I Left My Heart In San Francisco
July 14, 2011 § 33 Comments
After some intermittent postings here and there, I am happy to be reporting once again to you from the blogosphere. For those wondering, I am still hovering in the Northern Hemisphere. MM, however, is doing a remarkable job of keeping Maple company while her momsy
vacations takes a long-needed break. Unfortunately, the weather in Vancouver is still not quite reminiscent of summer yet so last week I went searching for sunshine in… sunny California!
With a flight-time of less than 2 hours from Vancouver, it is difficult for a self-confessed urbanite to resist the temptation of a one week staycation in a cosmopolitan hub like San Francisco. For the longest time, San Francisco has resided at the top of my travel list but the opportunity to visit this city never really came to fruition until now. Together with my parents, who last did a road trip down to San Francisco 33 years ago(!), we packed our bags for an 8-day adventure in San Francisco, Monterey/Carmel, and Sonoma/Napa.
San Francisco is truly in a league of her own. As I wandered through the city streets, parks, and hillocks, I could only imagine with delight the wonderful adventures our blogging buddies, Lori and Gus, from According to Gus would have as they explore this city (one of many on their whirlwind trek through the US). San Francisco is both a dog-lover’s haven and a cultural feast for the eyes!
On our first night in San Francisco, I was perusing a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle in our hotel lobby and was pleasantly surprised by a fullspread article on local San Franciscan celebrities and their beloved pets. If you look closely, you’ll see Coco the Toy Poodle cradled in the arm of former San Francisco 49er, Roger Craig. [Note: I’ve come to realize that the longer I’m apart from Miss Maple the greater the tendency I have to hone in on Toy Poodles!]
The Golden Gate Bridge—an amazing engineering feat and currently the ninth longest spanning suspension bridge in the world. If you don’t mind negotiating the pedestrian lane with tourists, joggers and bicyclists, then by all means make some headway through the crowds and walk the bridge!
When in San Francisco, do not miss the de Young Museum located in Golden Gate Park. Here is a little known fact about this facility… There is a tower with an observation deck on the 11th floor (admission is free). The 360-degree views of San Francisco’s skyline will mesmerize you.
From Golden Gate Park, we took MUNI #5 to Alamo Square. This neighbourhood park (with a lovely off-leash area for the dogsters) is situated on a hillock overlooking the city. But what makes this little green oasis so famous are the ‘Painted Ladies’, a row of beautifully refurbished Victorian-style houses. For those familiar with the American television sitcom, “Full House”, you may recall the swooping panoramic scene of Alamo Square in the opening credits of the show. Click here for a retro video that will surely send you back in time!
Another stunning attraction worthy of a visit is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The permanent exhibits are categorized into different genres of art ranging from architecture & design to photography and painting & sculpture to media. Admission is free every 1st Tuesday of the month, which worked out perfectly for us!
We were quite fortunate that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (situated at the Ferry Building) is open three days a week, one of which falls on Tuesdays. So, after our viewing of the SFMOMA collections, we took a leisurely 15-minute stroll down Market Street to the Ferry Building. Naturally, we followed our noses to the fruit and vegetable stands.
That afternoon, we were scheduled for a tour of Alcatraz Island. Tickets for the ferry ride to Alcatraz do sell out fast, so it was a good thing we heeded the advice of the website and pre-booked our tickets online a few days in advance. With all the fanfare that Alcatraz receives, however, I was initially weary of falling into a tourist trap. But ‘The Rock’, which now falls under the purview of the US National Park Service, proved to be more than just a tourist attraction—it is also a wildlife and horticulture preserve.
Upon our return to shore, we walked down the Embarcadero and made a pit-stop at Pier 39 where we took in the sights and sounds of this shopping/dining/amusement playground-by-the-waterfront. I also happened to stumble upon a cute dog boutique—the sign on the door caught my eye.
Our last stop of the day was Fisherman’s Wharf. By then, we had worked up quite the appetite—all the better for us to check out the flagship store of Boudin Bakery and indulge in their signature San Francisco sourdough bread (made from a specially-cultivated mother dough), served with piping hot clam chowder. Perfect for a chilly San Francisco evening by the water!
San Francisco is comprised of many distinct neighbourhoods, all of which contribute to the vibrant and eclectic nature of this city. Chinatown is one particular neighbourhood imbued with lots of history and old-world charm. I think we could have spent one week exploring the streets and alleyways of Chinatown and there would still be plenty of nooks and crannies to uncover. For example, if not for the help of one local that we stopped along the way, we wouldn’t have discovered Great Eastern Restaurant on Jackson Street—a hidden gem for a very nice sit-down dim sum lunch.
Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill is accessible via a bus but, after a filling lunch of dim sum, we opted to walk. The journey along Kearny Street involves quite a hike (a sure way to get a feel for San Francisco’s topography), but the vistas are well worth the effort. What really struck me, however, are the murals spanning the rotunda walls within Coit Tower. The scenes depicted in these art deco paintings appear as if they could spring off the walls and come to life—the details are truly immaculate.
With our time in San Francisco winding down, there was just one last adventure we needed to partake in… a cable car ride! It’s fun, thrilling, and a great mode of transportation when your soles are begging for a break.
I hope one day to make a return trip to San Francisco—if I’m ever lucky enough, perhaps MM and Miss Maple will be able to accompany me. I have a feeling they will *heart* San Francisco as much as I do!
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It’s Wordless Wednesday (well, so much for being wordless…LOL)—time to blog hop!