The Journal

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my daily blog! My name is Stephanie, and I'm a wedding + lifestyle portrait photographer based in Warrenton, VA. Feel free to browse around and check out some of my recent work!


Hawaii Trip | Part I

San Francisco | Travel Photographer

Brandy and I didn’t really plan much before departing Virginia. I felt as though the entire trip came from a spontaneous idea that turned into, “wow, this is actually happening!” Although, since visiting last year for business, I wasn’t concerned about what we were going to do. I had a good sense of the island life, and knew we were going to have a great time! We did a little research of “must dos” before leaving, but we were in agreement that we wouldn’t set standards/expectations. Let me just tell you that this was one of my all time favorite trips and I want to share some tips/advice for YOU, if you decide to visit San Francisco/O’ahu, Hawaii!

Day One: San Francisco

First of all, we got incredible plane ticket deals, round trip from Dulles to Hawaii. After a couple of years of research, it seems like plane tickets can range from $680-$1,200+! Most of the time when there’s a great deal also comes with a bit of a layover. In this case, we were EXCITED for a layover because it was an overnight in San Francisco! Not just that, but enough time to explore around for an entire day. We did get a hotel for the night, but definitely worth it! My sister hooked us up since she works for Marriott, so we got an incredible deal and stayed at the Marquis. She even surprised us with candies in our room, wishing us a safe and fun trip! She’s so thoughtful! Brandy and I joked before leaving that we were going on a honeymoon! LOLOL! Sorry, Julien! ;)

Before arriving in San Fran, we didn’t coordinate how we were going to get from the airport to our 20-minute away hotel. We noticed that they had a rail system, but didn’t know where to catch it or how often it arrived or even where it would take us to our hotel. We ended up using an Uber driver. Now that we are experienced San Franciscans (that’s a term, right? HA!), we now know that you can take the BART rail system from the airport! It’s right on-site and WAY cheaper than an Uber! :)

The Marquis graciously held on to our bags as we ran around and explored the city, but first thing was first! We made sure to find a yummy lunch spot! On the way out, we needed a plan of action for transportation. We found a day pass for all transportation around the city, whether you wanted to travel by bus, trolley or rail, for $21 a person. WORTH IT! It’s really not that intimidating either once you have a map! In fact, Google Maps makes it EASY by showing colored bus routes and arrival times! YES. We grabbed a transportation map and found the closest stop to head up towards our destinations. On the flight to San Fran, we did manage to write out some ideas where we would like to visit and made a plan of action that way. First stop? Lunch!! After flying all day, we craved a big bowl of salad and found a cute hole in the wall restaurant called Crave. The salads were very filling and delicious. For those who have a sweet tooth, they had pastries there too! From there, we were off to start our real adventures!

San Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel Photographer

We grabbed some coffee and headed up towards the trolley. San Fran was pretty chilly for August, so holding on to a cup of hot coffee kept me warm. Anyone else do that? Not necessarily because I like coffee because, in reality, I’m a fan of Chai Tea Lattes. ;) After attempting to keep warm, we managed to catch the trolley in the middle of the route rather than the start. If we jumped on the trolley at point one, we would have been in line for at least an hour! We jumped on at a random point close to Crave, and there were zero lines! Yay! So we rode it up the road to Lombard Street where we landed at the top of the “crookedest street” in the US, and even the world(?)! It was a beautiful view of the city/Coit tower in the distance, and I felt as though we were dropped off in Europe. We walked down and up the street admiring the beautiful homes, foliage, hydrangeas and the views! So fun and definitely a must do when visiting San Fran!

San Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel Photographer
San Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel Photographer

Of course, another big tourist thing to do is the Golden Gate Bridge. The last time I was here, I drove over and viewed it from the Marin Headlands. I recommend doing this on a clear day! We were there on a cloudy day and didn’t have a car accessible, so we decided to take the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge visitor center and walk across the 1.7-mile bridge! Great views along the way and exercise! Although, watch out for bikers!! There was walking traffic in both directions on one sidewalk AND bikers! Eventually, the bikers were pushed to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I wonder why they don’t naturally separate bikers from the walkers from the get go. Anyways, it’s definitely worth the walk for photo ops!

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After our ~3.4-miles, we hopped on the bus and headed towards the Painted Ladies. Honestly, we had NO idea what the “Painted Ladies” landmark was all about, but we found out quickly! We were walking up a street admiring GORGEOUS homes, but we noticed a bunch of people sitting on the side of a hill staring towards us. We knew we were missing something, but we walked passed and continued along the road looking for this famous painting of ladies… Lol! Turned out the homes we were admiring were the “ladies” and each house was painted a different color with incredible attention to detail! Thanks, Google, for clarifying that! ;)

San Francisco | Travel PhotographerSan Francisco | Travel Photographer

After exploring the “Painted Ladies”, we were ready for a little relaxation since we were up since 4:00 a.m. that morning traveling! Whew. I’m not naturally a morning person! We checked into our hotel room and prepped for a night out! There are COUNTLESS food suggestions … I mean, it is a city … But we ran across an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with the best Pho! The small bowl is PLENTY of food! #whatthepho So. Good. After filling up, we headed up to the Marquis rooftop overlooking the city for a glass of wine. I’m still surprised we were up for a drink after traveling all day, considering we had been up for almost 24-hours, but so many great conversations about life! A great ending to a very eventfully first day! Hawaii Trip Part II will be tomorrow on the blog to avoid overloading this post! ;)

San Francisco | Travel PhotographerI had to take a photo of the “Yoga Room” because I thought it was a genius idea for an airport!

San Francisco | Travel Photographer

Here’s a quick run down if you have less than 24-hours in San Francisco:

— Learn about the BART rail system before you arrive at the airport!!! Cheapest transportation method to and from the airport! // It only cost us $9 to travel from the Marquis rather than $32 by Uber pool!

— Purchase a day pass for $21 to use the buses/trolley/rail and pick up a transportation map // Google Maps is a HUGE help when planning your trips around the city.

— Hop on the trolley for fun!

— Walk along Lombard Street (zig-zag road)

— Walk the Golden Gate Bridge or view from Marin Headlands on a clear day

— Explore hole in the wall restaurants

— Quickly check out the Painted Ladies (beautiful homes!!)

— Grab a drink at the Marquis rooftop bar

— If you’re interested in visiting the Academy of Science Museum, purchase tickets in advance! We missed out on this opportunity, but apparently, Thursdays are THE days to go out and enjoy the entertainment!

— Wear LAYERS and possibly a rain jacket!!

Conclusion — VISIT SAN FRANCISCO!!! :)

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