I knew I’d really arrived in San Francisco when I found myself stretching out on a mat, with the baby globetrotter wriggling at the other end, in a baby yoga class at The Yoga Tree Studio in the hip Valencia district. I could tick all the boxes on a checklist of clichés – dim lighting, flickering candles, deep breathing and mantras, expensive gym wear … And I loved it! It offered a restful and healthy pause in the midst of a hectic city break.
I wanted to take the baby globetrotter to some of my favourite places in the city, as well as explore one or two new ones. So we walked miles along the Embarcadero, her red buggy buffeted by the brisk December breeze. Marching around the circumference of the Giant’s impressive AT&T stadium in South Beach was a first for me and it was fun to take a mostly uninterested four month old down to the Embarcadero to see the galumphing sea lions with their nostril-invading smell.
It could be said that I’d chosen another supremely buggy-unfriendly destination, as SF is renowned for its hills. Yet I found it surprisingly easy to get around. We rode the touristy but delightful Mason-Powell streetcar, took the buses and trams that clutter the grid of streets above ground and the subway that runs beneath them. One bracing but brightly sunny day we hopped on the ferry across the Bay to Sausalito. Browse the quaint shops and strolling along the waterfront, we could look back across to the captivating San Francisco city skyline, a view I’m sure I could never tire of.
Everywhere we went we found people who chatted and helped. My experience so far is that travelling with the baby globetrotter can lead to much more meaningful and interesting interactions than travelling alone. There was the former Marine we met on the streetcar who, at 80, and still in amazing shape, teaches leadership courses. There was the chic woman who’d just moved house and was in the process of building in an international life that would take in the UK because she loves London so much. The aspiring writer in the Sausalito coffee shop who was following his creative dreams. The hip assistant in a trendy jewellery shop in ABC Mall, who went positively gaga over E.
The weather was also very kind to us, and one gloriously sunny day found us drinking in the green lushness and beautiful views of Lincoln Park before enjoying the riches of the Klimt-Rodin exhibition at the Legion of Honor museum. Or at least, I savoured it, the baby globetrotter was the perfect captive audience!
Muir Woods had long ago been recommended to me as a ‘must see’, and I’d not managed to get there on any of my previous visits to the Bay Area. So on a crisp Sunday morning we piled back into the car, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge once more (which will never cease to send thrilling shivers down my spine) and wound up the wooded slopes of Mount Tamalpais. The ground dropped away at the edge of the mountain road, leaving glorious views of the Pacific. Arriving bright and early at the National Park entrance – there are sometimes distinct advantages to having a young baby wakes at dawn – we bagged a parking space, picked up some leaflets at the wooden board rangers’ hut and headed into the forest.
To say the redwoods were impressive would be an understatement. One of the clearings was called The Cathedral and with my head straining to lean back far enough to see the tops of the trees soaring into the bitter blue sky and with even the baby globetrotter (momentarily) silent, the enclosed silence did indeed feel reverent and precious. The majority of the huge coastal redwoods (the tallest is a staggering 80m hight) are around 600-800 years old. This might sound ancient, but they are actually a fairly youthful bunch, as the oldest tree in Muir Woods is 1200 and they can live up to 2200 years of age!
It was great to have finally ticked Muir Woods off my bucket list (thanks Eunice for that long-ago tip!) and I loved the Legion of Honor museum, in its delightful hilly parkland setting – another new discovery for me. As always, San Francisco had provided an exhilarating and varied stay, and I left wanting to come back again soon. When I look back on this particular trip, one of the most memorable highlights will always be that baby yoga class!
If you liked this, you might also like:
- Golden Gate City, my other blog post on San Francisco – which has links to lots of other useful sites about the city
- This overview Of my 100 countries travel blogging project
- My first post on travelling with the baby globetrotter travelling in another extremely hilly city, Lisbon