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Archive for October 3rd, 2009

San Francisco

We left early Friday morning and even despite a few delays, we finally landed at SFO around 11:30 am local time. We hopped a cab to the fabulous Omni Hotel. (Travel Tip: For the best deal, use third-party travel sites like Kayak.com or Expedia.com and once you’ve found your top three hotels, check their websites to see if the hotels themselves are promoting even cheaper deals than those third-party sites.) We arrived a few hours before official check-in time and the couple in front of us had just politely been told their room wasn’t ready, so I stepped up to the front desk with my friendliest smile and even though our room wasn’t ready, the front desk clerk was more than happy to find us a similar room that was ready. He also recommended a 3.5 hour city tour and though the tour was already booked, he was able to squeeze us in with the tour company at the last minute with some sweet-talking of his own. So we dropped off our stuff (our room was perfect!), grabbed a snack from the snack shop next door, and waited for our tour.

Most people know that San Francisco is incredibly hilly, and therefore not much fun if you tried to explore it on foot. It’s also a runner’s nightmare, so even though I had every intention of jogging, I figured it could wait until we hit Napa. The tour was okay. We took a bus past Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, the Italian District, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to a museum, up to twin peaks, past the painted ladies (the houses featured in the opening sequence of Full House), through the old hippy hangout area of town (I forget what the tour guide called it) where Janis Joplin used to hang out. So we saw quite a bit of the city. The biggest downside was that our tour guide’s first language was not English, so it was difficult to understand him at times and we only caught bits and pieces of what he was saying. So enough talk, let’s look at pictures:

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A foggy Golden Gate Bridge

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View of the city from twin peaks (at least I think that’s what it’s called).

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The painted ladies. I was probably more excited to see this (and the Mrs. Doubtfire House, which I didn’t snap a good picture of) than anything else on the tour.

The tour ended a Fisherman’s Wharf so instead of going back to our hotel, we just stayed at the wharf and walked around.

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From the wharf, we could see Alcatraz.

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And the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Alcatraz from Pier 39. If the flag is any indication, it was windy. And cold. So most of our photos from here have me awkwardly holding my hair back in a faux ponytail. Like this:

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Shortly after this picture, we bought my husband a jacket because he was freezing his arse off in that thin short-sleeve shirt. Oh he had a jacket or two, back at the room, but we considered it a souvenir since it says San Francisco on it.

We ate dinner at a place called Scoma’s since it was recommended to us by a friend, but even though the food was okay, we were a little disappointed. It was sort of pricey, the portions were small, and we just weren’t impressed. I think we expected more East Coast style of seafood dining. After dinner, we kept walking until we hit Ghiradelli Square.

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The store even gives out free samples! But I couldn’t make up my mind on what to buy, so I walked out with nothing at all. Instead we went to the little wine shop across the plaza and did our first California wine tasting. I ended up buying two bottles of sparkling Shiraz and had them shipped to us because 1) it’s delicious and 2) there are only three places in the US that make it. It’s a good holiday wine, so I’ll have a bottle for Thanksgiving, when all the family comes in town, and another bottle to take to the in-laws’ house for Xmas. They just arrived yesterday and they kind of look like champagne bottles. I’m so tempted to break into one early.

We got back to our room around 10 pm to discover this:

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When I booked our room, I noted that it was for a birthday celebration (my husband’s) and even though his birthday wasn’t until the next day, we were pretty excited to come back and find a huge piece of chocolate cake and a small bottle of champagne waiting for us. And of course, I even lit the candle that came with it and forced him to make a birthday wish. Thank you, Omni Hotels!

A sweet ending to a wonderful first day.

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