It's amazing what a full night of sleep will do for the spirit! I was up, bright eyed and full of vigor by 7am ready to take in a full day of San Fran sights.
First stop: Golden Gate Park. Having only skimmed it the day before, now was time to really explore. We walked through beautiful rose gardens, dodged several sprinklers and arrived at the Japanese Tea Garden, which much to our surprise is free on Friday mornings! Score!
After taking in the luscious scenery and feeling totally zen'd out we did what every first time tourist must do when the visit San Francisco...visit the Golden Gate Bridge.
After taking in as much of her as we could through all the low hanging fog we hopped a bus to Lombard street, which we were told would provide us a nice walk on our way to the Marina. It was on this walk when we realized that Jürgen's camera had died. There is no reason to recount the full sequence of events which transpired after this realization, suffice to say it was a bit tense but everything worked out. We even ended up visiting a local camera store which was selling a specific lens Jürg had been searching for, which came in handy during the rest of our trip.
When dealing with moments of tension, it's always best to follow them with something sweet, so a trip to Ghiradelli Square was necessary. I am not a big fan of sweets, but when ordering ice cream I only have eyes for one flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip.
We then strolled along the waterfront into Fisherman's Warf, which in all honesty is sort of like a nicer Ocean City and slightly less lame Navy Pier. But you have to go if you are a San Fran first timer.
Stroll a little deeper into Fisherman's Warf and you will come to Pier 39 where you will get a front row seat to watch a great show entitled: Sea Lions Sunbathing.
Then we marveled at the crooked/corkscrew/squiggly part of Lombard Street
After which we proceeded to walk quite a distance to Coit Tower and pumped up pur heart rates climbing the stairs to get there.
In all honesty, Coit Tower was a bit of a let down for a few reasons: 1) It costs $7 a person (cash only...lame) 2) You take an elevator to the top of it so you miss out of the whole "huffing and puffing" experience that you expect when climbing up a tower and 3) Once at the top they have plastic panes on every opening so getting glare free photos is tough. Just my two cents.
Despite being a tad disappointed with our Coit Tower excursion, we found a cute, steep brick staircase (called the Greenwhich steps), travelled down them and back to the Piers where we enjoyed some early evening breezes before jumping on a boat to....
The Rock. Also known as Alcatraz. I decided to sign up for the night tour because I thought it would be a little spooky. I live life on the edge, what can I say?
It was at this point when it started to cool down significantly in San Francisco, and being on a boat over a choppy ocean not only causes ones naturally curly hair to immediately expand in width, but it also marked the beginnings of a nasty tickle which was growing in the back of my throat. A harbinger of things to come.
|My windswept hair is giving Jürgen a mullett.|
Scratchy throat aside, a visit to Alcatraz is definitely a must do for the San Fran tourist. You get fantastic views of the city from the island and you learn a lot. You don't get as much time or freedom to explore when you do the night tour (and it does get cold) but I am still glad we went.
After the tour, we met up with my friend Brittany and her friend Phil for dinner at a restaurant called The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. It was great to see her, meet Phil and catch up. The meal was good, not amazing, but definitely good.
Sadly this was another fitful night of sleep, and I awoke with a full on sore throat and a slight tightness in my sinuses which was quite unwelcome. Determined not to succumb to it's nasty ways, we first ventured to the San Francisco airport to pick up our rental car for our upcoming Napa adventure. This whole process was very easy and made even better by the rock star parking we found near our apartment. Score.
First stop: The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Also known as, the Farmers Market to end all Farmers Markets.
We did pick up a little breakfast, but we literally could have made a meal of just the samples at every vendor's tent. beautiful stone fruits, sweet apples, creamy cheeses, grassy olive oils. It was a food lovers paradise.
After sufficiently oohhhh'ing and ahhh'ing at nature's bounty we met up with Brittany and a dear friend of mine named Brian who I have known since I was twelve (that was quite a while ago FYI).
Brian had a show that afternoon so we parted ways after an hour pr so but Brittany stuck around while we navigated Chinatown. San Francisco apparently has the best Chinatown, and while it was impressive as far as size, it was super crowded and I am not one for crowds. What can you do?
We ate lunch at a spot many people insisted we go called The House of Nan King. The food lived up to the hype, but it was quite an experience. Soon after we sat down an older gentleman came to take our order and asked us if we had ever been there before, to which we all replied "no." With a swift nod, he took all of our menus from our hands and said "I am the chef, I will take care of you."
I am an adventurous eater, and most of the time I would relish the opportunity to have a head chef take charge of my dining situation, however this place was cash only and we were limited in our spending along with some dietary restrictions. We were a bit uneasy as to how it would all turn out, but I can happily report that we made it out on the other side unscathed. They brought us three dishes, fish, chicken and beef, all of which were delicious and well prepared. The service is no nonsense and they get you in and out pretty quickly, but I would recommend it. Just don't tell them you are newbies if you want to place your own order.
At this point my throat was ragin' and my head was getting stuffy. Basically I was down for the count and I knew that we might have to cut this day a little short, so I did what any person who spent their formidable years in the late eighties and early nineties would do...paid a visit to The Painted Ladies. Aka "The Full House Houses."
To be honest, some of the ladies need a new coat of paint, but it was nice to sit on the hill overlooking them and chill for a bit.
By now Brittany needed to head to the other side of the bay, and we needed to head to Walgreen's and stock up on Benadryl. I was going to kick this cold/allergy attack/ devil possession in the butt if it killed me. However another fantastic way to ward off evil spirits is with Burbon, so our final stop of the day was a modern day speakeasy called Burbon and Branch.
It doesn't look like much from the outside, and you cannot take pictures inside, but it's an awesome local spot. You have to have a password to get in (don't worry it's on their website) and a host or hostess will lead you through a dak windowless bar, pull open a bookshelf where you will find yourself in the Library. We made friends with a very nice bartender, and had some great drinks. As I was feeling under the weather, I wanted to hearken back to the days when my mother would spoon feed me burbon when I had a cold, so he concocted two fantastic Burbon based drinks which certainly helped ease the pain at the back of my throat, or at least replaced one burning sensation with another. We used this time to recount our stay in San Francisco and get excited about the next phase of our trip in wine country.
Once home I swallowed one of those bad boy Benadryl's, and despite my best efforts to take in an episode of Friday Night Lights, I was once again asleep by 9pm.