California: getting started

First of all, easiest 5.5 hour flight ever. A weekend Globe, a bad movie (Robin Hood), an EnRoute magazine and a few episodes of Modern Family and there we were in San Francisco. One crazy-ass cabbie later and we were at our hotel, the amazing Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square. Our room…well, it’s actually quite ridiculous to call it a room. It’s a two-bedroom suite, twice the size of our condo and twice and nice inside. I’m not kidding when I say that I would happily live here. We had just enough time to drop our stuff, take pictures of our swish new spread and poke around Ghirardhelli Square a bit before the daily wine and cheese tasting. That’s right: the daily wine and cheese tasting. We sat around the fire pit (it was getting a little chilly outside) and savoured the feeling of not giving a shit about anything.

For dinner we hit the first of several (reportedly) great beer places we’d  picked out, La Trappe. It was a tiny little basement bar…Nellie called it a cross between Smokeless Joe and C’est What, which will only make sense to Toronto beer drinkers. There was a 49-page beer menu but, quite frankly, we never made it off the first page draft list. There was more than enough there to occupy us. I had a St Feuillien Grisette Blanche, a Bavik wittekerke and a Caracole Nostradamus. Nellie had a La Chouffe golden ale, a St Feuillien tripel and a Brugse Zot dubbel. They were all good, though my Nostradamus was a little harsh. Nellie’s dubbel was better, and I could see why they were pouring them for half the people in the bar. Our frites were good (wasabi mayo and curry ketchup…tasty!) and my sliders were excellent with a little leftover wasabi mayo added in, but Nellie’s mussels were a little disappointing. Still, it was a great find for our first meal, and wasn’t the slightest bit touristy. Actually, one other interesting point: drinking beer seems to actually be a trendy thing in this city. There were groups of girls there last night you’d expect to see dancing in a club, but instead were sitting in this basement bar drinking Chimay all night. Weird, but awesome.

We hit the hay pretty early since we were still on Toronto time, and slept like the dead. Even though we’re at street level, noise doesn’t bother us and the blackout curtains made our gigantic home like a cave. We’ve been up long enough to have some breakfast, watch a little Freaks and Geeks, write this, shower and get ready for our first proper day of exploring San Francisco. Now let’s hope the rain holds off!

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