If you’re like me, you grew up loving 2001’s The Princess Diaries (set in San Francisco, CA). If you’re even more like me, when you visit a city, you enjoy going to the sites of famous movies. One of my favorite scenes from TPD is when Mia takes her grandmother to enjoy a day at the Fisherman’s Wharf. They arm wrestle a masked luchador, eat corn dogs,and take goofy pictures in an old-fashioned photo booth. So guess what? So did we! Follow us as we recreate some of the memorable parts of the movie!
Musée Mécanique is located near Pier 45 in The Fisherman’s Wharf, right next
to Fisherman’s Grotto. As the sign boasts, they have a plethora of antique and new coin operated games alike! There are some very unique items in there; things I have never seen before and probably will never see anywhere else. I highly recommend visiting, even if you aren’t a Princess Diaries fan. The best part? It’s free to get in and only pennies to play.
Meet the arm wrestler! Don’t be fooled – he’s tougher than he looks. Costing only a quarter to challenge him, you can choose from the hardest level (welter) to the wimpiest level (fly). I chose fly obviously. You get two tries, yet both seem to just fly by because you’re too busy being pinned down by this mechanical luchador! He’s strong, ok?! We took turns, Elyssa going first and being defeated. I suffered the same fate right after. We must have been causing a scene because people were stopping to watch us and laugh. We were just happy to be touching the same hand that touched Julie Andrews (and maybe a thousand other hands before and after her)! Don’t worry, I wiped it down just like she did in the movie.
Have you ever tried an old fashioned photo booth? It’s so much fun! It flashes with that *poof* sound and then takes about 10 minutes to print out your pictures (not for the impatient). The ink was still a little wet when we pulled it out. It smelled like it could give you lead poisoning too! Haha.
Do not make the same blunder we did and mistake this photo booth for the one in the movie. There are like FIVE different ones in Musée Mécanique, so make sure you go to THIS one for the legit experience. Of course it was the last one that we came across. We must have spent about $15 on photo booth pictures. Not that I mind 🙂
I highly suggest visiting the sites of your favorite TV shows and movies. It brings you closer to the characters! Who doesn’t want to relive the magic and have the joy of experiencing it all over again?
Although AirBnB was been around since 2008, I feel like it’s popularity has only peaked within the last couple of years. Or maybe I’ve been under a rock and you all have been using it this whole time?! Either way, it’s a new concept to most people. This past November, my closest cousin and I planned our first trip together to San Francisco, California. Only about a 1.5 hour flight away from Los Angeles!
This was my first time in The Bay. We didn’t really have a set itinerary, but we definitely knew that we didn’t want to spend a fortune on a hotel. Did you know that the lowest price I could find for 1 night at a 3 star hotel was nearly $300?! Say what?! Say NO! That’s why we decided to give AirBnB a shot. And I am SO happy that we did.
To tell the truth, Shaun and Kurt’s place was always the top of my list. How could it not be with the presentation they had on the website? From it’s stylish furniture, spacious room, and free cable, there really was no resisting it. The only thing holding me back was that it was located away from the action of San Francisco’s downtown area, about 30 minutes, in Bayview. But, after talking to other hosts and weighing multiple pros and cons, we landed right back on S & K’s doorstep.
From SFO, we took an Uber (also my first time using this) carpool for about $17 to Bayview. The neighborhood is nothing too extravagant, but it is in a fairly good part of town. It is a really cute 2 story blue building with a gated, private entrance. A big pro is that Shaun and Kurt give you your own 4-digit key code to get into the gate and your room! No hassle with managing key exchanges. There is a neighboring room for other tenants on the other side of the patio, but they were far enough that we never ran into them.
Based off my 4 C’s of Confidence, here is how I’d rate the place:
Not a speck of dust left. You never would have known that another tenant had ever stayed here! Seemingly clean sheets and immaculate bathroom – that’s really all I can ask for.
For two nights, we spent $274 in total. That is with service and cleaning fees included. Much better than 1 night at a hotel closer to the city.
I communicated mostly with Kurt through text and he would always respond very quickly! He answered all my questions about their place amicably. They have a binder with information about the history of their neighborhood, tourist spot, random recommendations, and transportation options.The BART was really easy to use and there is a bus stop very near the home. It is about a 10 minute walk to the stop.
As stated, it is about 30 minutes away from all the tourist spots. It could be a good or bad thing depending on how close you want to be to the traffic. It was very easy to hop on the BART or hail an Uber from their location. But keep in mind your budget!
Be sure to sign the guestbook they leave for their tenants. Take a picture of what I wrote and send it to me – if you ever end up staying!
Click below for a link to Shaun & Kurt’s amazing AirBnB! Tell them Tiffany sent ya!
I had prepared myself to walk. It is a big city, that’s what they do there. But I was not prepared for the journey I would take on this day. When we first arrived in Chicago, Danny texted Elena saying, “Tell Tiffany it’s really easy to get around on bikes! We can take trails…we can take them downtown…we can…”… At that point I blacked out. Ride bikes?! No one told me we had to ride bikes! Panic set in.
For those that know me, it’s common knowledge that “Tiffany can’t ride a bike.” It’d go something like this: “Hey, want to take our beach cruisers out on 4th of July….oh, wait, that’s right, you can’t!”. It goes from “Oh, I am so sorry for you!” to “LMFAO, WHAT A N00B!”. Haha, it’s okay, I take it all in good fashion. 20+ years of jokes kind of get old and my feelings don’t get hurt that easily anyway. Perks of having a family that jokes around all the time; you don’t take anyone too seriously.
Even though they probably both held secret grudges (not so secret on Danny’s part, he jokingly let me have it with snide remarks about my two-wheel fears), we walked. We walked everywhere. Because I do not live an active lifestyle, I have no clue how I did it! Apparently iPhones have a Fitness app that counts how far you have walked and how many steps you have taken. My phone was in my purse, so I don’t think it was totally accurate, but it counted 25,000+ steps in 10+ miles. Regardless, I felt really bad that I had to be the bitch that kept everyone on foot.
What We Saw in Downtown Chicago
I will have to say that Chicago’s skyline is pretty incomparable. If you didn’t know, I have a thing for skylines. Some people may argue that they all look the same,but they absolutely don’t! Yes, they are just a bunch of buildings lined up together. But can’t you see the difference in height? In color hues? In the way the sunsets peek through? Take a look at LA’s skyline or New Orleans’: totally different! Plus, Chicago has those two spikey thingys poking out from on top of the John Hancock building. That’s freaking hilarious. They look like antennas! Anyway, this was my view as we were walking down the long ass trail to downtown. We passed by this large body of water with artificial waves and sand attached to it, or as they like to call it a “beach”. I am from Florida, so I have to be a little partial to the real salt air and seashell-ridden sands. But, hey! I will give it to Illinois. They make do with what they got. There were girls in their bikinis attempting to tan and boys playing frisbee. Closest thing to the real thing that you can get, I suppose!
Downtown Chicago was how I imagined it. Bustling crowds attempting to make their way through the maze of skyscrapers. There were a lot of department stores and a lot of people coming out of their doors with more bags than they could carry. As I watched everyone scramble across the city and cross eachother’s paths so quickly, I found that it was difficult to tell between who were real Chicago inhabitants and who were the tourists. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I will say I give props to every pedestrian crossing the busy streets. I second guessed myself every time I had to cross. Danny was so good at predicting when lights would change, he always bravely put his foot forward and trekked across that road as if he owned it. I never gained that confidence, so I always just blindly followed him. Probably not a good thing because there came a point when I wouldn’t look right or left and just trailed after him like a baby following mother duck. Death for the followers.
The Famous Bean or Cloudgate
Opera House in Millenium Park
Outside the Taste of Chicago – Festivals Galore!
Boats on boats
On the 9th Floor of the Main Library
My $16 Mojito
Selfie Stick as we Sit
Where We Ate in Downtown Chicago
When you think of a signature Chicago food, what comes to mind? Yep, deep dish. We went to Pizanos on Madison Street for my first taste of Chicago pizza. Back home in Florida, on Thursdays I have a group of friends that always goes to a pizza place called Al’s for dollar slices and beers. I sent them a picture of my meal, not entirely sorry I was missing out on our usual dinner together. “Having a slice for you here in Chicago”, I texted.
However, I am not going to lie I was not super impressed. It’s funny because we actually originally ordered a thin-crust pizza but, because the waiter was new and confused, we got a deep dish instead. So we take what we are given! If you don’t know what deep-dish pizza entails, it is actually exactly what it sounds like. Chicago-style pizza is known to have high edges and a thicker tomato sauce. To most, that sounds like a party! But to me, a lover of hand-tossed or thin-crust with light tomato sauce, it wasn’t that enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong though! I like pizza as much as the next person! Imma nom-nom-nom that up faster than you can say “Yo, get away from my plate”. But I didn’t like how doughy it was. Just not a great aftertaste. Tell me if anyone out there agrees with me. If not, I am okay standing alone.
For dinner we had the very-healthy Sprinkles Cupcakes. I don’t remember why we didn’t have a real meal. But I think it had something to do with the fact that our feet hurt SO bad, we had to sit down and soak our feet for a good portion of the night. I remember getting home and being like “What is walking? Why do we do this?”. We probably were like “Getting up is required to get food? Naaaaaaaah.”
Do you have any experiences like this? Let me know in the comments.
If a friendship lasts longer than 7 years, it will last a lifetime.
I woke up this morning not remembering where I was. Oh, and with my leg splayed over my friend who doesn’t like to cuddle. Over dinner the night before, we all discussed what our strange sleeping habits are. I assured her that my only weirdness is somehow ending up diagonal in the night. But, much to her chagrin, I was wrong. I apparantly also inadvertently trespass on other people’s space! When we woke up, I asked her how her sleep was and she responded coyly with “Danny’s bed is super comfortable…..oh, and, you lied, you ARE a cuddler.” The smile on her face had meant she was taking it graciously though. I gave her permission to kick me next time. That usually works.
Our home for the next 4 days would be on the bottom level of a 3 story apartment in Chicago. Even though my phone displayed that it was 7am, the room remained pitch black. I pondered on how this was possible for a while, but upon looking around the room, I realized there were no windows. So weird! I did sleep well though, having recovered from the night before. Danny’s boyfriend Chris had cooked us an amazing meal for dinner (ending with some rum-soaked peaches topped with homemade whipped cream for dessert. Only I didn’t taste any peaches, if you know what I mean). The only home cooked meal I have had for a long time.
Flashback to when we first arrived at Midway International Airport: it actually was not a struggle at all. From Jacksonville, it was an easy 2 and 1/2 hour direct flight! What I was most worried about was using the trains. Or, as tourists from smaller cities know them, dreaded public transportation! I was already preparing myself to get lost in the subway. I tried my hardest not to look like a tourist. But it is hard not to when you are constantly looking around and jumping at the sound of every stop made. All I kept thinking was “Well, at least I have a change of clothes! Ugh, this luggage is heavy. No! Not more stairs! I wonder if they have any restaurants in the trains for the tourists who get lost on their journeys?”. Obviously I was confident. Per Danny’s directions, we took the Orange Line to the Brown Line. If you know what I am talking about, good for you. I am glad I had Elena with me because what I was imagining was a kid drawing literal orange lines and brown lines on the sidewalk. I don’t know what to do with that!
When we finally made it to Danny’s street, I was in awe of how cute it was! If you don’t count the constant clattering of the train tracks (which eventually turned into white noise), it is an incredibly quiet area. If Danny’s blinds weren’t open, I wouldn’t have had any clue that other people choose it as a route to their destinations. I couldn’t wait to make our home in a real Chicago abode.
I had expected to eat well in this city. If I had a shitty time or didn’t enjoy any of the architecture, I could live with that. But if the food was subpar? Take me back home. My first taste of Chicago was at a taco joint called…”Taco Joint” on North Halstead Street. And…it…was…GOOD. Ever had a salmon taco? Me either. But I had a delicious ceviche taco! We paired it with a beer-mixed drink called “Traditional Red”. We were disappointed because there was no wine it in, having thought we ordered a SANGRIA. But, when I read the menu again, I realized it said SANGRITA. So it all makes sense now.
My dad would be proud of my Modelo. It was a spicy wake-up call!
One thing I will say about Chicago is there is FREE STUFF EVERYWHERE. Literally, the minute we walked into the FREE zoo, there were girls handing out FREE cans of Red Bull. It just so happens that all of this was taking place in a FREE country! Kidding. But I could not believe that the zoo was free: there were no gates, no entrance fees, and no one to check your tickets. It wasn’t a small, janky zoo with sad looking animals either! They had rhinos, penguins, polar bears, meerkats, and a lot of other exhibitions that the Jacksonville Zoo does not have. And I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to enjoy a zoo without sweating your face off in 90+ degree weather!
Located on North Clark Street. They are open most days from 10am – 5pm.
When the night winded in, we headed over to Chris’ house. Two words: Bachelor Pad. To the max. He had a chalkboard wall adorned with business plans and a list of “Places to Go”. In the bathroom, there was a makeshift lamp made out of an old wine bottle. It was so revealing of his lifestyle. More importantly, the man can cook. We were entertained with a cute ass cheese plate for an appetizer, sausage and brussell sprouts, and a salad that we had all made with love. Fresh from the herb garden on his rooftop. We spent a lot of our time out there – shucking corn, cutting tomatoes, and trying to differentiate between this green leaf and the other. “This one is rosemary … or sage….or….kale? I don’t know put that in the salad.” Despite our uncertainty, the salad was scrumptious. Didn’t even need the drizzling of a balsamic vinegar dressing like I usually like.
My first night in Chicago can be summarized into one, simple statement: there is more to explore. The aching in my feet from that initial day would not compare to what would play through into the rest of my trip. I say I wanted to explore, huh? Well, I got my wish…