San Francisco Trip in November 05
After we dropped off our Daughter and her husband Saturday at the airport in San Francisco, we went on up to the City. What a wonderful bright and sunny day it was and it was warm for this time of year.
We drove up and took Van Ness all the way to the end where we turned around after taking a look at the water and ship in the museum. Right on Bay starting the scenic drive, we went past the Green and all the dog walkers and kite flyers. Along the Cressy Field restoration park, we stopped and watched some of the sites with romping dogs and children. The bike riders are like a maze trying to dodge them as the think they are the only ones in the world and have the right away when they just donít know how to control the thing they are riding. They are like lemmings following the blind rider in front of them.
From there we wound around the old landing field that has been restored to its natural habitat over past the warming hut and down to the old Fort Point National Historic Site. This is a must for all new comers to visit the City. I think I remember being there when I was a little boy, but have no idea when it was; deja-vu all over again, as Yogi would say. Anyway, we walked all over it, in and out, and up and down looking at every nook and cranny. It is amazing how they must have lived in that day and survived in that place with what they had to work with. The huge guns and all must have been a real job and when they shot them the ear ache must have had a lot of deaf ears. If you go here be sure to take the road up to the Golden Gate bridge overlook and museum just up the road. When you leave, continue on the Scenic Drive and stay off 101 staying to the left or east side of the bridge.
We continued along the Scenic Drive past the beaches and great views of the surf past Lands End and up to the Legion of Honor. Carol was impressed with the wedding party being photographed there. Continuing we wound around to Point Lobos past Sutro Heights to the Cliff House where we had a late lunch. We checked in after a half hour wait to get a parking place and the wait for a table was another hour and a half. While we were waiting, I over heard someone say if there was an open table down stairs on the wooden floor it was first come first serve without a reservation. Looking over the rail I saw someone take out their credit card and raced down there and as they got up I moved in. Carol saw me and came down and we had a ringside seat over the ocean. The waitress was the best we ever had and took our order as the table was cleaned and prepared. I watched all the regulars do the same thing as people started to move out. It was like a bunch of Vultures circling over head and on the perimeter. It doesnít take long for a traveler to learn the ropes if you keep your ears and eyes open. Carol was stunned and kept looking around for someone to tap her on the shoulder until we ordered, and then got comfortable. We ordered the Coconut crusted Halibut with Pineapple chutney in a Coconut milk sauce and Couscous and worth every dollar; boy was it good. If you go there, go downstairs and sign up and then get over to the wooden floor and wait for the first call or table. They have two restaurants, the Bistro upstairs and the fine restaurant downstairs. The Bistro is a liter menu but almost as much with out the variety. The Sutros Resturant downstairs is the best pick if you really want to dine in style. Our lunch only cost about $65 including the tip (remember its San Francisco and the meal we had was like nothing we ever had before). We could have stayed upstairs at the Bistro and had fish and chips for the same price, grin. http://www.cliffhouse.com/Sutros-restaurant.htm Check it out on the internet and put the phone number on your cell phone just in case.
After lunch we drove down along the water and watched the wind surfers with their sail wings pulling them along at breakneck speed. Passing the Old Dutch Windmill we turned into Golden Gate Park and followed the Scenic Drive through the park and out the panhandle and past Haght-Ashbury. As we entered the Park we saw the tulips and passed the Buffalos. There were people all over the place and walkers everywhere. We drove past so many lakes and came to Snow Lake and drove around it and on past the Botany Gardens. Some day I want to go in and see it again. I havenít been in it since I was a little boy and the Tea Garden would be on the same ticket. We came to the new De Young Museum and it is huge they are just starting the Academy of Science.
The trip home was uneventful with tractably no traffic. I was thinking all the way home about the waitress and when she asked if we were ready for dessert. I kept wondering how much that would cost and still it was working on my appetite and as we pulled into town, I drove over to the Mall and got my dessert anyway. It only cost me $2.09 for a strawberry-sunday that would have cost me ten times that over there.
We started taking trips to San Francisco
There are two ways to get there, one by BART; the other by car and the cost of bridge tolls, parking and gas. Other than that lets get going. I like to take BART so hold on, we will start at the Pleasanton station where you can park way out in left field any time or wait till 10 AM and park near the entrance. There is a dollar parking fee now and when you park note the space number. Take that space number to the parking machine and put in your trip ticket and enter the space number. The parking fee will be deducted and you will not get a citation. If the lot is full or you want to leave earlier go on to the Castro Valley station where there is always plenty of parking where it is free, but harder to get to.
You do not have to rush, they run every ten minuets and going is not as crowded from Pleasanton. Oh, I forgot to tell you to get off at the Fairway Park station and transfer to the next S.F. train. There are no transfers you just get on and off. You only pay when you leave a station.
When you arrive at the station you go to the machine and buy your ticket. Some machines take twenties so have some bills if they are out of change. Enter the amount and insert money. Then go to the parking machine and enter the space number. San Francisco downtown is about $12 round trip don't forget to figure the parking fee and the return trip amount. When you get to embarcadero get off and change over to Lite-rail it is cheaper and you get a transfer. You can use it within 4 hours to get on and off as you go. It is also good on any Muni including the Trolleys. We are over 65 so it only costs seventy-five cents. The K line street cars (Trolleys) go from the Castro to Fisherman's Wharf and is the best way to get there. Across the street from the Embarcadero station is Market One, and inside is a food court with the best prices and variety in town. Out the back door and over the tracks you can take a walk through the old Ferry Building where there are some eateries there too. It is a good time to take a ferry across the bay and visit Sausalito and Angel Island. Pick up a bag lunch and enjoy the trip. Back on the K line in front of the Ferry Building or Market One, the ride in the old antique Trolley is a fun experience, I remember as a boy. Arriving at pier 39 you will find mimes, magicians, acrobats, jugulars and arcades. The many shops and eateries are fun, but expensive unless you settle for a soup bread bowl. Then there are the Sea Lions, they are a site to see all over the place. Walking west you can take a tour on the Balcutha sailing ship (moved to Hyde Pier; East of Van Ness at the foot of Hyde Street at Jefferson). Try the Ferry fleet to Alcatraz. Continuing west take a look at the new Wax Museum and Ripley's on your way to the Maritime Museum and don't forget to take a tour through the WWII Submarine like the ones I used to sail on. It can take a full day to get through this tour and you can stop for dinner if you can afford it, at A. Sabella's Restaurant. Or from this point you can take the 15 muni bus from Beach a block up from pier 39 to Broadway and have dinner at Tommaso's a block east at 1042 Kearny Street
. We have been going there from dating days in the 50's, the best Pizza and Italian food there is. Back at the City Lights, continue on the 15 to the Montgomery BART station for the ride home.
Anytime you want to modify the tour you can skip some stuff and walk up to the Cable Car by Columbus or the one at Ghirardelli Square. Both go over Nob Hill where you can get off and transfer to the California ride and back before continuing on to Powel. It is a good time to walk through The Fairmont Hotel and take the fast outside elevator for a thrill. On Sutter Street, off the Powel Cable Car line is the Marines Memorial Club Hotel where there is a Marine Library and lodging for retired vets. There is a nice restaurant on the fifth floor too. The next block is a 50's restaurant Lori's Diner and then you come to Union Square and the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, where you just have to take the fast outside elevator to the roof. It is just a short walk down to the Powel BART station where you can take the BART home or lite-rail someplace else. The L line goes to The Zoo and beach. It also transfers to the Cliff House on Muni Bus. The N line goes to the beach near Golden Gate Park. Get off at 9th and check out the new De Young Museum and on the weekend take the free shuttle through the park. There are a lot of restaurants on 9th too. At the beach end of the N line you can get a coffee and scone in the little coffee shop there. Crapes on Cole in Noe Valley is a great treat and you can take a walking tour around Haight Ashbury area and see the Victorians. They have been restoring those old ladies to their original beauty. The driver knows where they are. The Bus transfer up to the Cliff House is a reminder to me of the old days when I enjoyed ice skating before the Sutro burnt down. Speaking of Ice Skating, they have a new rink at the Moscone Center in Yerba Buena Park. Back to the Montgomery BART station and three blocks south across Market is the Moscone Center where there is a skating rink, IMAX, restaurant, Sony video center, Exploratorium, play ground, and the Old Carousel that used to be in the Play-land at the Beach. It has been restored and is as fast as ever. They give Sr. discounts too.
The options are endless depending on your interests. The F line goes out to Stones Town Mall and takes a while to look around and eat. The walks are within three blocks of each site give or take a block. Remember it is still cheaper to take a cab or Pedi cab than parking. The Pedi cab (rickshaw) goes up and down the wharf for about $10.00 for two, but the Trolley is cheaper. The old restored Trolley line goes out West through the Castro District, and is an interesting ride through old San Francisco with interesting sights along the way. The turn around at the end is a little tricky so it is wise to get off before to catch the return Trolley. Don't be afraid to ask for directions; the conductors are very helpful.
Another way to get there is on Amtrak from The Valley to Emeryville via bus to S.F. or get off at Richmond and get on BART from the same station. Amtrak also goes to Jack London Square where you can eat, take the ferry, use BART at Broadway and 12th, or continue on to San Jose.
There is a way to San Jose too from Embarcadero BART station. You take the N line east around past the ball park to the Caltrans Train station. It goes to the San Jose Amtrak station where you catch the downtown free shuttle every five minutes. From there you can take Amtrak or Caltrans back home. If the Ace Train is running you can take it back to Livermore and use the bus to get back to your car in the Pleasanton BART parking lot. The ACE train trip from Stockton or Manteca is a fun trip to San Jose too. They have free trial trips if you call their office. In San Jose they have Lite-rail all the way to Mountain View where Ames research center is at Moffett Field. The Lite-rail goes past Great America and if you use the ACE train it stops there also. The Innovation Museum is worth the trip where they have an IMAX.
There is an IMAX in Danville next to the BART station on the way home. A great place to eat is Mimi's or Amichi's Pizza place in the Safeway center on Tassajuara.
There is a fun trip out to the SFO airport. BART goes into the terminal and you take the shuttle tram to all the areas. In the south terminal I always visit he USO lounge and give them a donation and have a cup of coffee, it helps. Matter of fact it make the trip worth while. I have always enjoyed the USO's, when I travel and need a place to rest and freshen up.
These are just a few options when you visit the city, more later.
I am planning a trip to Monterey from Modesto. I will take the Amtrak to Richmond and transfer to BART there. BART goes to S.F. Airport where you catch the shuttle to Monterey. It stops at the Double Tree. From there you can rent a car, take a cab or us the bus. Most sites are in walking distance anyway. I am a vet and use the Naval or Army lodging nearby, from $65.00 a night at the Navy Lodge or $12.00 each first come first serve at the old Del Monte Hotel. There is a hostel near by up the hill from the Double Tree too. I do recommend reservations before heading out. You can also make the same trip via Amtrak from the valley. They bus you from the Merced Station to the Double Tree in Monterey.
I also want to take a trip to the Fremont Centerville Station Via ACE or a round about from Amtrak and Bart with an Amtrak back to Sacramento and on to Modesto. It only takes a full day, but if you like trains it is a neat trip. You will have just enough time for lunch at the old Centerville Depot Diner before the trip back to Sacramento. Email me for instructions.
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