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!

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§ 33 Responses to I Left My Heart In San Francisco

  • Chandra says:

    What a fantastic trip! Thanks so much for this post – I’ve been to SF many times and you’ve clued me in to a couple sights that I’ll definitely seek out the next time I’m there! I love the de Young Museum and I had NO idea there is an observation deck. Also, somehow in all these years, I’ve never been to Coit Tower – I must see those murals in person!

    -Chandra at Daley’s Dog Years

    • You are so lucky to be living in close proximity to SF! Yes, the next time you’re in this city do check out the observation deck in the de Young Museum which is located in the “Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Tower”. I could have easily spent a couple of hours just admiring the views from there! As for Coit Tower, the murals were an unexpected surprise—there are panels and panels of these exquisite paintings that go one forever. A real treat for the eyes 😀

  • Elizabeth says:

    Wonderful treat for you and me (the photos are wonderful)! Thank you! It’s 100 degrees here and now I want some clam chowder in a bread bowl. 🙂

    • LOL, sorry I’m giving you a craving for clam chowder in a bread bowl despite the 100 degrees temperature that you’re having right this moment! It’s still mighty chilly in Vancouver (it rained this morning…surprise, surprise), so a hot bowl of chowder is definitely now on my mind.

  • totomameee says:

    San Francisco is soooo PRETTY! The last I went it was during winter months. The whole place is jsut wet and dreadful and moody! Cannot go anywhere much because it keeps raining. Maybe I should take a trip down again!

    OH the dog in the red picture frame is TOto!

    One funny joke. It was the first time I had sourdough with clamchowder. And I didn’t know it was sourdough, i thought just plain bread. I told my husband.” Dear, I think the bread is spoil, how come it tasted ‘sour’! Hahaha only till we walk pass a stretch of restaurant that are advertising about sourdough, we have our ‘Ahaaaaaaa’ moments!!!

    Enjoy ur trip!
    It is really so funny how we are reporting at opposite end of the world hahaha!

    • SF in winter sounds very much like a typical Vancouver day (LOL)! If you have a chance, visit SF in summer—you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for sharing the humour behind the story of your first sourdough experience. That’s hilarious! Well, we always learn something new. And, yes, when I saw the Westie painting through the storefront window I was thinking of how much it resembles TOto 😀

  • Amy says:

    I found your blog through BlogPaws Blog Hop. I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco, and I loved reading about it from the eyes of a tourist. Thanks for the lovely pictures!

    • Hello Amy! Thank you for finding us while blog hopping. We’re so glad to know another pair of Dachshunds in the blogosphere—I LOVE the names of your two boys: Swift and Kool. There’s a nice ring to the sound of their names together! I’ll be heading on over your way to read more about your “Life with Doxies” 😀

  • M.C. says:

    Wow, what a thorough account!

    If you’re still around, I hope you get a chance to go to Fort Funston. A must-see site for any dog lover, even if you don’t have Miss Maple in tow.

    • Hey M.C. While I was in SF, I was thinking of Bowdu and Bowpi! We visited the Berkeley Marina and walked through an off-leash area—the distinct landscape of grassland set against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay reminded me a lot of some of your pictures. We underestimated the time allotted for the Golden Gate Bridge, otherwise we would have loved to check out Fort Funston as well as the Presidio in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Well, I certainly wouldn’t mind making another trip to SF simply for that reason 😉

      • M.C. says:

        Yes, it should remind you of some of my pictures… 😉

        We don’t go nearly as often during the summer months, because it gets VERY infested with foxtails. As do all the local parks, I’m afraid. But some more than others.

  • Kame says:

    Your photos is such a good treat for eyes…all are beautiful. What is that baby bird?

    Poor maple is still left alone 😉

    • Hi Kame! That little ball of feathers is a baby Seagull. Alcatraz Island has become a habitat for a rather large community of Seagulls. Around this time of the year, the younglings are just beginning to test their independence. But the mother Seagulls are still very watchful of them, so we were advised to keep our distance or else we’ll be given a souvenir that we won’t ever forget! Thank goodness for my zoom lens 😀

  • raisingdaisy says:

    What a great post! I feel like I’ve been there! We’ve vacationed in CA, but hadn’t gone to San Fran. That picture of the painted ladies dropped my jaw because we have an area that’s nearly identical to it, except ours is on flat land and by the ocean. Otherwise, with the parkland and the houses, they’re identical! For a second I thought you’d popped over the the east coast! LOL

    Glad you’re having such a wonderful time and that Maple is doing so well at home. 😀

    In answer to your question on my post, we’re using the Wahl Kennel Pro clippers on Daisy. We’re very happy with it – it comes with an instructional video as well as written instructions, plus lots of clipper combs that let you control how long or short you want your dog’s hair.

    • Oh, wow, that is truly a coincidence! I would love to see what the ‘painted ladies’ over on east coast look like—I bet they’re stunning, especially set against the ocean as you’ve described. I could go on admiring the architecture of these Victorian-style row houses. You’re so fortunate to have them right there in your backyard!

      Many thanks for sharing your experience with the Wahl Kennel Pro clippers on Daisy—much appreciated. I like the fact that it comes with an instructional video… that’s a must for me! I’ll be sure to look into this one. Thank you again 😀

  • charlywalker says:

    Ohhhh.. I left my heart in Ghirardelli Square……..great chocolate and lots of cholesterol…

    Lovely Post!

  • Carly says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco. Looks like an incredible trip!

  • Yuki the dog says:

    I love san Francisco! I really like the dog paintings, especially the schnauzer one. oh, and Chinatown-the food is sooo good! Yum. As a child I used to love going down the ‘crookedest’ street, (Lombard street), I thought it was the coolest thing ever back then. I also like the homes from the ‘full house’ opening, ha ha I used to watch it every Friday night way back in the day. I really enjoyed this post, looks like your having lots of fun!

    • It’s great to hear from other fans of San Francisco! We, too, checked out Lombard Street and were impressed by the stunning views (but I’m not sure if the residents living there were as impressed by the hordes of tourists, LOL). “Full House” was one of my all-time favourite TV shows while growing up! I always looked forward to watching the week’s episode in the afternoons once I had returned home from school 😀

  • furfilled says:

    Great trip report! I love SF, and it sounds like you really hit all of the highlights. I haven’t seen the murals at coit tower yet, so that’s something I’ll def have to check out. I LOVE the ferry terminal farmer’s market. The peaches must be glorious right now! If you go back for another visit, be sure to check out the California Academy of Sciences, across from the De Young. It’s worth a peek!

    • Peaches, strawberries, cherries, you name it! We had a great time ‘sampling’ everything there that was on offer 😉 I wish we had devoted a whole day for Golden Gate Park—we missed out on the California Academy of Sciences, but it’ll be on my to-do list the next time I have another chance to visit SF…hopefully…one day soon 😀

  • Kas says:

    LOVED this post! And as always, I love your pictures. Look like you had a fantastic time! I’ve never been to San Fran, but I’ve always wanted to go. Your pictures and account will have to do for now. 🙂

    • Thank you, Kas! I can now understand why San Francisco is always bustling with tourists. It is definitely a very popular travel destination. Hope you get a chance to visit San Fran one day and, when you do, I’ll be looking forward to your take on this city!

  • didiwright says:

    What a great tour and beautiful photos. I felt like I was there with you! I know it’s hard to be away from your loved ones (MM and Maple), but at least it looks like you’re having a fabulous holiday. Enjoy the rest of it, and I’m looking forward to more ‘holiday reports’ 🙂

    • Oh dear, I think I’ve been enjoying my vacation a little too much… I may suffer from post-holiday blues upon my return to Singapore (LOL)! On the other hand, I’m looking forward to settling back into a daily routine once again and, of course, reuniting with the two special ones in my life—MM and Maple 😉

  • lepawsvoyage says:

    Hi, we have enjoyed reading your blog since you started and decided to pass on the Versatile Blogger and Inspirational award to you. Understood you have received it but we insists. Cheers!

    • Hi Ros! Wow, two awards in one day—thank you, that’s pawesome 😀 Congratulations on receiving your blog awards! We’re coming over to see what new and interesting facts we can learn about Lele 😉

  • Hi, me and Rossi gal would like to pass on the Versatile Blogger and Inspirational awards to you. We know that you have already received them, but we still want to give them to you, as we really like your blog and truly feel you are deserving of the awards.

    Regards,

    Rossi gal and Mummy

    • Hello May and Rossi gal, thank you for the Versatile Blogger and Inspiration awards! We’re so pleased to be receiving them from you and hope that you’ll continue filling your blog with lots of informative content. Keep up the great work!

  • eardog says:

    As usual, gorgeous pix from your travels! Wonderful!

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