Where's Ariel?

August 13, 2012

Seen on the street in San Francisco:

I hope she enjoyed her trip. Apparently, her co-workers missed her!

Everyday adventures

Sampling San Francisco

May 04, 2012

Ready for a return to San Francisco?

Here are a few more highlights:

Mission Dolores is the oldest building in San Francisco. It was the sixth mission established by Father Junipero Serra (in late 1776) and the building was completed in 1791. The Mission was built with adobe walls four feet thick, and original redwood logs lashed together with rawhide strips still support the roof. The Mission survived the 1906 earthquake, but the parish church next door did not. The current basilica dates from 1918. A small museum, cemetery and gift shop complete the Mission Dolores complex.

The original Mission
 Sunday we woke to fog, cold temperatures and wind—and wouldn’t you know, that was the day we planned to go to Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Promenade, all on the water. It was chilly, but we equipped ourselves with jackets and scarves—and this outing turned into one of our favorites. Crissy Field is restored coastal habitat, with tidal marshes, dunes and historic military structures (Fort Mason and Fort Point). We took our time strolling down the path, snapping photos of happy dogs, birds, flowers, sand dunes and a fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge. We fortified ourselves with a stop at the aptly-named Warming Hut, the park store and small restaurant/coffee shop. 

 After lunch, we drove to Ocean Beach and then down Hwy 1 in search of photogenic beaches. The sun peeked out, but the fog still rolled over the hills like water. We spied swimmers, surfers and wind-surfers braving the cold Pacific:

 On our last day, Susan, a college friend of mine, made her way into the city to meet up with us. She gamely tagged along as we crisscrossed the city trying to see things we’d missed, and returning to the Golden Gate Bridge to get photos without fog while Laure gamely put up with our chatter as we caught up on each other’s lives.

One of our destinations was the Hyde Street Pier, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Built for automobile ferries between San Francisco and Sausalito, the pier now houses a number of historical vessels, including the ferry Eureka, the square-rigger Balclutha, the steam-powered tugboat Hercules, and a number of smaller craft.

A quick stop for Irish coffee at “the” place to get it, the Buena Vista, and we were off for the Golden Gate Bridge again to try to get some shots of the bridge without all the fog of the previous day. This time, nature cooperated.

We ended the day with dinner at the Cliff House. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the sunset, but apparently this is a great place to do so.

View from Cliff House
I’ve left out descriptions of some of the places we visited, such as Japantown and the “Painted Ladies” (Victorian houses) near Alamo Square. Even though we packed our days full of sight seeing, we still missed so many places of interest: the Conservancy of Flowers and other attractions at Golden Gate Park, several fine museums, the Yerba Buena Gardens, Alcatraz and the whole of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to name only a few. We didn’t even ride a cable car—though we did ride everything else! And we didn’t get out of the city to explore at all. I feel like I’ve just had a taste of what San Francisco has to offer.

Guess we’ll just have to go back.

Everyday adventures

The Pedometer Broke*

April 30, 2012

At this time last week, I was eating breakfast at Tyger’s (the California Scramble: eggs, avocado, mushrooms, cheese and tomatoes—yum!) and reluctantly planning our final day in San Francisco. Laure Ferlita and I made the trek cross country to gather material for articles and scout subjects for a new online art class. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it!

Even though I was born and raised in California, I’d never been to San Francisco for longer than an overnight stay with my sister-in-law about 15 years ago. I remember nothing about the city, except that we ate at an amazing restaurant where the chef cooked up some French fries (not on the menu) for my 2-year-old son so he’d have something to eat while the rest of us indulged in more grown-up cuisine.

I did some research beforehand, trying to make sense of the different neighborhoods (Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Haight-Ashbury, etc.) and how they fit together. The online travel boards agreed that having a car wasn’t necessary, that public transportation was readily available and reasonably priced, while parking and driving were headaches.

Well, yes and no. And yes. Public transport was available, but the size of the city made it difficult to get from location to location quickly—and while there is plenty of public transport, sometimes it’s a bit confusing to figure out which method will get you where you want to go (street car, cable car, bus or metro?) and how many hills you’ll have to climb in the meantime. (Being from flat Florida, we found even those hills described as having “gentle inclines” taxing to the cardiovascular system.)

We’d planned to rent a car for part of the visit anyway, hoping to get out of the city to Muir Woods or Point Reyes, and by the time we picked it up, we were ready to brave the traffic of San Francisco in order to see more in less time. The traffic was indeed headache-inducing and so was parking, but we managed. And no, we did not drive Lombard Street (known as the world’s crookedest street) but we did take pictures of the foolhardy brave folks who did. I did the driving and Laure the navigating, and I could not have done it without her. She also made a fine coach through what seemed to be constant parallel parking.

Even with the car, we still averaged around 10,000 steps a day, logging more than 16,000 on our busiest day. Some of the things we saw included (click to enlarge photos):


Fortune cookies being made at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company:

You can bring your own fortunes to be inserted into the cookies. We just bought a bag of already-assembled cookies. My fortune said, “Opportunity awaits you next Tuesday.” That was last Tuesday. I'm still waiting.

Brown velvet sea lions at Pier 39:

Life is good.
Japanese Tea Garden (located in Golden Gate Park):

They are not kidding. See below:

This garden has a real aura of peace and tranquility even if it’s busy with visitors. I'd come back here.

San Francisco Botanical Gardens (also located in Golden Gate Park), beautiful flowers and friendly squirrels:

Coit Tower/Fillbert Steps:

For some reason, the murals at Coit Tower, located on Telegraph Hill, charmed me. They were part of the Public Works of Art Project (under the New Deal) and are mostly done in fresco, according to Wikipedia.

"Old Man Weather"

Views from the hill are pretty spectacular:

Just steps away from Coit Tower, a hidden walkway and set of stairs winds between homes perched on the hill, giving us peeks into backyards and more beautiful views of the water (these are either the Filbert Steps or the Greenwich Street Stairs--I'm not sure which):

Wouldn't this make a wonderful place to write or paint?
Hope you’ll return Friday for part two of the San Francisco travelogue! We felt like we barely scratched the surface of what there was to see in the city. Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are your favorite memories?

*Not really—the battery just wore out!