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Trip Report yk's San Francisco + Bay Area Trip Report (focus on food and museums)

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Before I begin, let me first start by thanking all of you guys from SF/Bay Area who answered my questions and made suggestions to my prior threads. My mom and I had a great time there, and everyday we were greeted with gorgeous weather (blue sky, cool breeze, not a wisp of cloud).

When?
6 days over Labor Day Weekend, 2008

Who?
Me, mid-30s. My husband could not take so many days off, so I asked my mom to join me instead. My mom just turned 65 last month, so she is entitled to many senior discounts. We have both visited SF at least 1/2 a dozen times in the past.

Why?
It was prompted by a fall fare sale on AA - $344 r/t from Boston. My main goal was to visit my relatives in the Bay Area, whom I have not seen for quite some time. Also, I have 2 friends who had given birth to their childs within the last few years and I wanted to meet them.

In addition, despite my prior visits, I have never stepped into any museums in SF. So museums were a huge focus on this trip.

Transportation
For our 6 days there, we used public transportation during the first 2 days. I rented a car for the last 4 days (for ease of visiting relatives who live outside of the city).

Public Transit
We used BART, Muni buses, F street car, Golden Gate Ferry on this trip. Overall, it was a breeze to ride. During my planning stage, I found the Muni website a bit difficult to navigate, but it got easier once I got accumstomed to it.

Driving
I brought my Garmin Nuvi with me, so driving was no hassle. I did have to park on the street in Chinatown one day, and found parking a car on a steep hill a bit of a challenge despite an automatic car. Traffic was not bad over the holiday weekend, but our last day (Tuesday after labor day) we did hit afternoon rush hour traffic. It wasn't too bad compared to LA traffic which we encountered last year.

Where we Stayed
Thanks to Priceline, we were able to stay at 4* Business hotels for 2* hotel prices. We were there for 5 nights, and because of weekdays + weekends, I had to break up my bid in order to find something cheap.

Our first night was at the Hilton Financial District, which is located at the eastern edge of Chinatown, across the street from Portsmouth Square. I got this with a $120 bid.

Location-wise, it's not very convenient for public transport as it is a 15-min walk from the closest BART; and very few bus lines nearby. However, the proximity to Chinatown is great for us, as it was just 1/2 block walk for great Chinese food.

We were upgraded (without charge) to a Deluxe BayView room, which usually costs about $50 more. On the 16th floor, we had a great view of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, and of course, the bay.

My biggest complaint about the hotel & room is the poor sound insulation. I believe the hotel was previously a Holiday Inn, and perhaps they didn't spend the $ for building materials. I could hear foosteps from upstairs and out in the hallway despite carpet, and could hear the elevator "ping sound" (sound to announce the arrival of the elevator) even though our room was 1/2 way down the corridor. Lastly, we heard traffic noise bright and early the next morning.

I would not recommend this hotel unless one needs close proximity to Chinatown.

For the next 4 nights, we stayed at the Hyatt Embarcadero. I won this with a $85/n bid.

I like this location much better. It is right above BART/Muni, plenty of bus lines along Market Street, the F Street trolley, plus near the Ferry Buildling. I also prefer this to Union Sq area; given that I am not interested in shopping at all. It is more quiet and subdued compared to the shopping frenzy around Union Sq.

Our room has a view of the Ferry Building and the East Bay. It is much more quiet than the Hilton; both in terms of street noise and in sound insulation. Overall, no major issue with this hotel.

Parking at the hotel is $57/night ($50+tax). Instead, I parked at the Embacadero 4 garage for $30 (max 24 hours). The garage is a 1 minute walk from the hotel, and is open 7 days a week (closes between MN to 5am).

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