Our first stop of the day was in Santa Barbara. This is a nice little town on the beach. We explored a few shops, then went down to the pier for dinner. Our stop here was nice, but we didn’t let it last too long. Before we knew it, we were back in the van.
After a little bit more driving, we decided to stop for dessert at the Madonna Inn. We entered the Madonna Inn restaurant and bakery, and were accosted with adorable but almost overly sweet decor. I, of course, LOVED it. Apparently the hotel rooms are decked out just as all the main areas are – I wish we had been able to stay the night! We ordered and enjoyed our desserts, then spent a bit of time exploring the building. It felt just like a maze! I was able to get a few photos, but I don’t know if they really capture the feel of this entire building.
After some exploring and souvenir shopping, we all hopped back into the van and got on the road. From here, we felt we just had to power through the rest of the drive, so nothing too exciting happened. We dropped Stacy at Leilani in San Jose. Leilani was confused as to why I wasn’t coming on the plane with them as she knows I am going to visit her in Hawaii, but I explained that I will be coming next week. After dropping those two, we continued on to San Francisco. Mom and I dropped Nicola and Olivia at their house, and then continued on to yet another new hotel – the Marriott Marquis. By the time we made it to the room, it was late and we were exhausted… needless to say, we didn’t have a very exciting evening.
Mom and I woke up early the next morning to get on an early bus for yet another Hop-On, Hop-Off tour… this time of San Francisco. This tour took us all over town to see all the important sights. This tour was very different from the one we did in LA in that we actually had a live guide who was also the bus driver. This guy was awesome. I can’t remember his name now, but he told us all sorts of cool stories between telling corny jokes and even singing to us. While driving through Chinatown, he spent at least a full minute singing and whistling “Kung Fu Fighting” to us.
Our guide was also a very informative guy, and the history of San Francisco really is fascinating. Much of the history we learned was centered around the Great Earthquake of 1906, which I have previously mentioned in my post about the Fairmont San Francisco. In fact, much of the history of the city of San Francisco is based around this disaster.
San Francisco was the site of the first Chinatown in North America. Today, it is also the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. In 1906, the Great Earthquake demolished San Francisco’s Chinatown, and the Chinese population of the city did not have enough money to rebuild this area. They ended up appealing to the City of San Francisco, and promised if they were helped to rebuild their Chinese center, they would also build a tourist attraction to help garner funds for the city itself. This went ahead, and this is why there is now a large tourist district in today’s Chinatown, with souvenir shops and Chinese restaurants.
The Great Earthquake wreaked havoc on the entire city. In the aftermath of the quake itself, San Francisco was overrun with fires, to the point that they actually ended up blowing up an entire street to create a division between the fires and the still-safe part of town. Most of San Francisco today is from the post-earthquake years, but there is still a section of town that survived from before this devastation occurred.
San Francisco is full of some beautiful old buildings, and the city has such a historic feel. My favourite story of the day was that of Alma Spreckels. Alma was born Alma de Bretteville, and this statue that stands in the middle of Union Square is modelled after her.
While Alma was modelling for this statue, she caught the eye of a man many years her senior by the name of Adolph Spreckels and they began a five-year courtship before being married. Adolph was the head of the Spreckels Sugar Company, so Alma often referred to him as her “Sugar Daddy” – coining the term that is still used today.
What tour of San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge? We chose not to get off the bus here as it was FREEZING, but we were able to snap a few photos. The fog was so thick we couldn’t even see the top of the bridge!
We saw many beautiful houses along this tour… here are just a few photos.
And here are a few famous ones. The yellow house in this picture is the one that Jimmy Hendrix used to live in, and he also had a recording studio in this house. Interestingly, apparently Janis Joplin used to live around the corner.
You may recognize these houses from the old classic Full House. The yellow house is the one they used for the show. There is a park across the street called Alamo Square, where the cast can be seen in the introduction of Full House.