Today I am writing from San Francisco! Well, San Carlos, actually. I am a lucky girl. My roommate, whose name is also Kristin (and who I shall refer to as “KP” from now on), has apparently become important enough at work that they want to send her away to courses at places as cool as (just outside) San Francisco. I tagged along, and I’m adventuring without her all week, but we are moving to stay in a hostel actually in San Francisco when she is done her course Friday and will do some exploring together then. You can check her blog out here – I’m sure she will be doing a couple posts throughout the week as well.
We got in to our hotel in San Carlos early yesterday evening, and had just enough time to get settled and go for a walk to the grocery store and to find dinner before we both crashed. It was most definitely a travel day. I was eager to get the lay of the land, but there doesn’t seem to be much right around the hotel. Usually I am such a hardcore planner when it comes to travel, but KP and I had both been so busy recently that neither of us had time to plan much of anything – and I have much more time to fill than she does, since her course is her priority for the next few days.
As soon as I decided that I was coming to San Francisco, I dropped a line to a business contact of my mom’s who lives in the area. I met Rich a couple months ago when he and my mom were both in Edmonton for business, and he had said to let him know if I was ever down in his neck of the woods. Once he heard I was coming, he immediately offered to spend a day showing me around. That day ended up being today! Here’s the only picture I have of Rich and I, just so you know who I’m talking about (we’re at the America’s Cup grounds here, but we will get to that later).
Rich picked me up bright and early this morning. The best part of the day was that I had no idea what we were going to do; I was just along for the ride. It was awesome to have a local guide who could recommend some less touristy things to see and do during the rest of my time here.
We began our day with a drive around the west side of San Francisco. Rich was hoping I’d get a bunch of amazing views on this part of the trip, but, as luck would have it, it was quite foggy early in the morning, so I couldn’t see much. We did stop at a beach early on, and though I could barely see the water off in the distance, the fresh ocean air was undeniable. It had been far too long since I was last near the ocean.
Next we spent some time driving through Golden Gate Park. I didn’t take any pictures, but just soaked up the beautiful trees and plants, and enjoyed the views. I can’t believe how big that park is to be just in the middle of a major city!
We stopped for breakfast at Cliff House, which is a beautiful and somewhat famous place. It is a large building on the edge of the ocean – the views are amazing – and the walls are lined with head shots of celebrities dating back many decades, most of which are autographed and addressed to Cliff House.
Next to it is a site where a real indoor salt water bath house used to stand, which was fed directly by the ocean.
The food was delicious and the coffee strong and flavourful, just the way I like it. I had the Joe’s Special, which is a San Francisco dish dating back to the 1920’s. It is eggs with ground beef, spinach, mushrooms, onions, parmesan cheese, and who knows what else! Interesting combination, but yummy all the same.
Our next stop was at the famed Golden Gate Bridge. I don’t think I need to write too much here as I won’t be saying anything new or exciting, but here are some photos to enjoy. It was still a little foggy at this point, but I think that makes the bridge look almost a little mysterious.
I love this view of the city and the bay from the bridge.
Below Golden Gate Bridge, there is a civil war era brick fort called Fort Point. I have to say, visiting this site was one of the highlights of my day. Rich explained to me that Fort Point was built to guard the bay, and it used to be stocked with so many cannons and so much fire power that it made San Francisco virtually impenetrable. Rich also explained that back when he was young, this was one of his favourite places to come to play tag with his buddies. Apparently the surfaces and rooms have been better restored since then, but the structure is still the same.
The best thing about Fort Point is that next week, there is a group running performances of Macbeth inside the fort. Apparently, while watching, you have to follow the actors throughout the building. I’m a little upset that this is not happening while KP and I are still around, but in case any of you happen to be interested in the details, you can find them here. How much fun would it be to spend an evening running around an old building like this watching a Shakespearean play unfold? I can’t think of many better things to do.
After Fort Point, we drove for awhile, and before I even knew what was happening, we were driving down the winding section of Lombard Street! It literally came out of nowhere. I don’t know who decided to build this road, but it was fun to drive down.
Our next stop of the day was at Coit Tower. This tower was built with money left behind by Lillian Coit upon her death – you can read her story and more about Coit Tower here. Basically, going up this tower led to an amazing panoramic view of San Francisco.
Our last stop of the day before Rich brought me back to my hotel and rushed off to catch a plane to Spokane was at the America’s Cup grounds. I’ve never been much into sailing, but I’m definitely not one to pass up a chance to experience a part of any live sporting event. Unfortunately there weren’t any races going on today, but it was a nice day to spend on the grounds regardless. There were some pretty fancy yachts docked at the pier, and we got to see all the exhibitions that were set up for the event.
Rich dropped me back at my hotel by about 4:15 PM and I was pretty darn exhausted. The day was so busy that I was happy to spend the evening doing nothing more strenuous than walking to Starbucks. I did walk a little further than that and discovered a residential park bordering on the water, so I spent some time there, but other than that it has been a mellow evening.
It was discovered for me that there is a train station close to the hotel that goes right into San Francisco, so it looks like I will be adventuring into the city solo tomorrow – we’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck!