Morris and I got away for a six-day vacation (which included Memorial Day weekend in there), and we visited San Francisco. We stayed at the Cornell Hotel de France on Bush Street, right near the corner of Powell Street (which is a cable car route). It was a beautiful hotel, and we enjoyed our stay and our breakfasts there. We flew out there suuuuuuuper early on Thursday morning, then spent some time eating a nice lunch in North Beach and shopping in Chinatown.
We spent Friday afternoon at Alcatraz—I can’t entirely describe it as a pleasant visit, since the place is horrid, but the audio tour was fascinating. And even though I was having some health issues (thanks, rheumatoid arthritis!) and was using a cane, the whole thing was made doable since the ferry staff allowed me to sit rather than standing in line, and there was a tram and an elevator available on Alcatraz Island, all of which made it navigable. And after we returned to Fisherman’s Wharf, we lucked into a free lunch. Don’t tell me there’s no such thing—we both had an appetizer and an entree, plus a (non-alcoholic) beverage, which would have rung up around $75, in exchange for our opinions on the food, service, and pricing. (Okay — it wasn’t 100% free, since we left a nice tip for the server, but still!)
On Saturday, we hopped into a van with 10 other customers for a day tour with Incredible Adventures, during which we visited Muir Woods and two wineries near Sonoma, the town of Sonoma, and Sausalito. Jill, our driver and guide, was phenomenal (and an excellent driver), and we seriously loved Muir Woods and the Robledo Family Winery, and we were thrilled to meet up with my sweet friend Tanita Davis (author extraordinaire) and her husband, David, while we were in the town of Sonoma, but the whole day was really wonderful!
Sunday, we went to Golden Gate Park to visit the Japanese Tea Garden. We caught a tour run by a volunteer from San Francisco City Guides (free tours run by volunteers out of the SF Public Library, donation optional to keep the program running). Our guide was Jay Streets (accompanied by his goldendoodle, Norton), and he knew SO MUCH about the history of the gardens and about the Hagiwara family, Japanese immigrants who did much to improve the gardens and who ran the Japanese Tea House until they were interned in camps during WWII. The stories and details were phenomenal, and put things in historical context, reminding us of the dangers of not studying history.
The first two photos above were taken in the Japanese Tea Garden, and the third was taken outside the De Young Museum.
That night, we went out for a really nice dinner at Café Claude, where we sat at the bar for dinner (we made a late decision and got reservations, but for the bar). We had fabulous cocktails, a good meal, and a really enjoyable time listening to the live jazz trio that was playing in the bistro. Definitely a nice night out.
The next morning, we joined a scheduled tour of Chinatown with Linda Lee of All About Chinatown tours. She came highly recommended by one of Morris’s tai chi students, and she was decidedly entertaining and knowledgeable, though I have to add a caveat that there were parts of the tour that made me feel a bit uncomfortable, since we strolled through a few groceries as if we were peering into an aquarium or something (“look at the ‘weird herbs’ and the live frogs!”). We finished with lunch at a local restaurant, including dim sum and a few other dishes.
Tuesday was our last day in San Francisco, but since we had a red-eye leaving around 11 p.m., we had a full day to spend in town. We kept it super low-key, first at Joy’s Place on Post Street for coffee (excellent lattes, excellent music, no rush at all), and then at the Palace Hotel for cocktails (scotch for Morris, rosé bubbles for me). We visited some other places as well, but it was an easy day and one of favorites.
Cocktails at the Palace Hotel
It has taken me just over a week to get around to writing about it because I’ve been pretty wiped out since getting back, but I’m finally getting my feet back under myself.