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TRIP REPORT: San Francisco

Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 06:23 AM
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TRIP REPORT: San Francisco

Thanks to everyone who contributed to my thread about going to San Francisco with my wife for a conference.

We arrived Thursday 11/20....flew into Oakland and used Pacific Limos to get to DT San Fran. Very good transportation...we used them on the way back as well.

We settled into the Marriott on 4th and Market down by the Moscone. It was a nice hotel, but built (and priced) to accomodate corporate expense accounts and not real people. I enjoyed the view from the 39th floor restaurant at night. The hotel is laid out poorly...having to negotiate a maze to get to your room from the elevators. There are three banks of elevators going to differing heights which was nice since we never had to wait for an elevator.

After settling in, our stomachs were still on KY time and we asked the conceirge for a restauarnt reccomendation. He sent us to John's Grill on Ellis Street. Apparently a famous place even though I had never heard of it. Prob. b/c I have never seen the Maltese Falcon. John's was good. The t-bone I had was excellent as was the other steaks and fish that the others ordered. the Roqufort salad was also very good.

The next morning they went to the conference and I rode the cable cars to get a feelof the city and to go down to Fisherman's Wharf to see about tickets for Alcatraz. Fascinating, interesting and tacky tourist all rolled into one. I wandered about until time to get back to the hotel to meet the rest of the party and go back down there to catch the ferry to Alacatraz.

We had to go to Alcatarz on the evening/night tour b/c the others were full. It's not as weird as you'd expect and neater and yo get the sunset through the Golden GAte as well as the light of the city when you come back. One of the most well-done historical tours I have ever been on. You're given a headset with actual prosioners speaking and let's you wander at your own pace.

We got back to land and went to eat at the Stinking Rose...which of course is a touristy thing to do...but we were tourists so it was OK. The food was excellent. The best hummus I've had in a while and excllent grilled prawns. Our waiter, Ray, was excellent as well. We walked back to the hotel through the Financial District and a little of the tawdry section of town.

Continued
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 06:35 AM
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I relaxed on Saturday morning and then we went to Chinatown after the conference on the hunt of Yank Sing for dim sum. We never did find it and settled (or were coralled) into the Grand Palace. It was good, but not everything that I hoped a Dim Sum experiece would be in Chinatown. I beleive we were taken advantage of a bit b'c we were a bunch of hicks that didn't speak any Chinese. We wandered around gawking at Chinatown after that and then the wife and I broke off from the group and headed to Gharadelli Square and the Maritime Park at Hyde Street which is done very well if you're interested in naval history. We also went back down to Fisherman's Wharf and went through a neat little arcade museum with old games (think about the thing that Tom Hanks wished on in "Big") and let her complete seeing things at Fisherman's Wharf. We really didn't eat supper Saturday night since we sampled an In and Out burger at the Wharf since I had recently read about it. They're good. We them grabbed a bite back at the hotel to finish up.


Sunday was interesting, but not fo good reasons. One of the women with us got sick and after the conference she needed to go to the hospital. The Marriott was very good about taking care of us on this (or maybe just covering their liability, whatever). We got to spend about 6 hours in "real" San Francisco and some "interesting" people in the ER at St. Francis Hospital.

Continued
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 06:48 AM
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She was on the mend by Monday and my wife and I had planned on renting a car that day anyway and getting out by ourselves. I had went to the Presidio/and Golden Gate Rec Area by myself on Sunday morning. (and learned that I'm horrible with public transportation) We went and explored some of the areas I had staked out the day before including Crissy Field and the beautiful gardens around the Palace of Fine Arts. We also went down to Haight/Ashbury and did a very quick two block sweep of the area (did you know that there's a Gap on the corner of Haight and Ashbury?..Dead hippies are rolling in their graves) We also headed down to Alamo Square and got "the picture"....AFter that we went to the GG Bridge and headed over to Sausalito. We looked arouond a bit and had luch at a great little hole-in-the wall italian place with great focaccia sandwiches.
After that we headed up to Muir Woods and awed at the redwoods. This should be a stop on everyone's list. We also went out to Muir Beach and enjoyed walking/exploring the beach while the tide was out.
It was getting late and we went back to have dinner at the Cliff House. Unfortunately, it was dark by the time we got there so we missed the sunset that we had come for, but the food was good and it was a nice night. We drove back (making a tour for Lombard Street, b/c after all, we are tourists) and packed up.

Headed out Tuesday and the Pacific Limo driver was nice enough to make a detour to Treasure Island off the Bay Bridge so we sould get a nice shot of the city.

One note about the flight back....after all the times I have flown, I had never flown through Kansas City untill that night....When you change planes, you have to go back out into an unsecured area and them get rescreened to get back into the gate that's right beside where you just got off. The waiting area is a CAGE with no restrooms or food...you have to go out and get rescreened to go anywhere. If you're itenerary has you changing planes in Kansas City...DON'T
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 12:14 PM
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Well, except for one of your group getting ill and having to go to the hospital, it sounds as though you had a terrific trip! I'm happy for you!

The Muir Woods really are something, aren't they?

I was wondering if I might ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind? I'm going to San Fran at the end of January. I've been a number of times, this will be my boyfriend's first time. I was planning on taking the ferry to Alcatraz during the day, but the night tour seems interesting. Do you still get to see the outside? (In the daytime, you can see the barracks and the cell block plainly and was wondering what the effect would be like at night.) What time do you get back/how long is the tour?

I've always wanted to visit Sausalito. (The only opportunity I had, the tour I was on was running late and we had 45 minutes.) I was thinking of taking the ferry to Sausalito (we won't have a car) in the late morning and having lunch. What can I expect? Enough to keep a guy interested?

Any tips/suggestions you have would be appreciated!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 03:41 PM
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EXCELLENT TR, BR ! I'm ready for another trip to SF after reading this.

We just saw "Bay Area Backroads" last Sat and it previewed the Alcatraz Night Tour.
We will def put that on the "to do" list for 2004.
It said the tour takes you to more places on The Rock than the normal daytime tour takes you.
Plus, just thinking about a sunset from there as you mention would be awesome!

Hey! Fodor's GTG on Alcatraz!!!
Hahahaha....We'd be breaking INTO The Rock!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 04:03 PM
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I think the maze-like hallways must be a Marriott trademark. The one on Columbus near FW is that way and I just stayed at one in Pittsburgh that was quite a maze as well.

I've been to the Grand Palace and found it to be good, but definitely not the full dim sum experience. And they didn't have the variety. We like New Asia on Pacific, but ended up at Grand Palace a few weeks ago because it was the middle of the afternoon, we were hungry for dim sum, and New Asia is only open for lunch and dinner, closed in between.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2003, 07:09 PM
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Hi BigRed,

Wonderful report... enjoyed reading everything! Thanks.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2003, 07:29 AM
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Chele60...

The night tour leaves the Pier at 4:30...so you'd have light until whenever the sun sets in January.

Having never been on the day tour I couldn't tell you how it compares. It does cost more and I assume you get things you don't during the day. You're given the option as you get off the boat of being in a tour group with a NPS ranger. He does his program in several stops up the hill to the cellhouse and which point it's dark and you get the audio headsets to do on your own. There were also about 3 "special" breakout programs that night as well that dealt with different topics like living in soliatry, and some other things I can't remember b'c we didn't do them. The only thing I wish I could have done is walk around the outside more while it was still light. We go back to the city around 8ish it seems.

Sausalito was interesting and the ferry stop is right in the center of town. There are several little shops/art galleries/restaurants. We spent a couple hours there and didn't see it all.

Plese post if you have any more questions
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Old Dec 5th, 2003, 07:53 AM
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BigRed, been gone a couple of days, but thank you for getting back to me!

It sounds like the night tour might be the best option for us. I like the idea of sunset and then seeing the lights of city on the way back.

Again, thank you!
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Old Dec 5th, 2003, 08:20 AM
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Great trip report!
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Old Dec 5th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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I have only one question: What exactly was it that the dead hippies were rolling in their graves?
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Old Dec 5th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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dwood, The Haight, while still pretty cool, has seemed to gone a bit commercial, ie The Gap and probably a Starbucks?
We love to watch all of the young "hippies" jump into their BMWs and drive home to Marin Co. Well, we saw one do that anyway.

I did laff at the fact that while I was waiting for Mrs K to come out of the umpteenth tie dyed store, one street person walked by me and eye-balled me twice before saying "Hello Officer".
Pretty funny.
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Old Dec 5th, 2003, 12:41 PM
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Kal: I know what you mean about the Haight getting commercial. I must be getting old 'cause every place I go, it's not like it used to be.

It's hard to find jazz or Dixieland in New Orleans; New York City seems polite and friendly lately; it's hard to find a real cowboy in Texas.

Oh well, I guess I'll go take a walk on the beach (72 degrees and sunny in south Orange County today).
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Old Dec 6th, 2003, 05:34 AM
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Thanks so much, BigRed. Nice report. Question for you re: Alcatraz trip, because I'll be traveling with a person with some special needs. Were there restrooms on the ferry and available on Alcatraz?
 
Old Dec 6th, 2003, 09:17 AM
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BigRed..thank you for the report on the Alcatraz night tour! You've just given me the perfect holiday gift for our 16 year old nephew. A day with us in SF taking him to our favorite eating places and a night tour of The Block!
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Old Dec 8th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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Cassandra...there were restrooms on the ferry (but it's only like a 10 minute ride...if that)

There are also two sets of publci restroom on the island...one down by the dock and one at the top near the lighthouse
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Old Dec 9th, 2003, 04:02 PM
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PamSF, It would also make a good b'day present for a certain Big Guy you met recently in Yountville. :-"
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Old Dec 12th, 2003, 10:21 AM
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Message: Thanks the report was great. I am leaving for San Franscio on Tuesday. We arrive around 3pm . We are staying In the Tuscon Inn on the Wharf. I planned on just walking around the area that first day. The weather should be good the next day i was thinking of a day trip to Napa Nay ideas on a tour company? My Husband doesnt want to drive. The Thursday - Saturday weather forecast is for 50 -80% rain so I would like to doe the city tour and maybe Alacarz etc Can you suggest the any tour companys and any restursnts



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Old Dec 12th, 2003, 02:12 PM
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rnbtr,
You won't be far from the cable car turnaround at Aquatic Park where you can pick up a muni pass. For a quick but great ride, hop a cable car up to the top of the crooked part of Lombard St. and walk down it. It won't be far to walk back to your hotel. I'm not a big fan of the 50s but, regardless, we liked Lori's Diner at Ghirardelli Sq. (which you can see from the turnaround) for simple, inexpensive food (and milkshakes) with the same great view as McCormick and Kuleto's next door. I'm certainly no expert on restaurants and we didn't get to try many in the area so I hope others will answer. In the opposite direction we also really liked the Fog City Diner. In fact, I wish I could just zip down there for lunch right now.
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Old Mar 26th, 2004, 05:19 PM
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Topping for nytraveler10
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