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yk's Trip Report - Frozen in San Francisco, May 2009

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May 26th, 2009, 07:21 AM
  #1
yk
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yk's Trip Report - Frozen in San Francisco, May 2009

Hi Everyone, my husband and I spent 4 days in San Francisco over the Memorial Day weekend. For a change, we actually didn't do too much on this trip, so hopefully this trip report won't be as lengthy and verbose as my usual TRs.

It seemed like we visited SF during the worst few days in May. When I checked the weather forecast before we left, it predicted mostly sunny with temps to be in the low 70s daytime, and mid-50s at night. I packed clothes for 60sF temp. Unfortunately, the actual weather turned out to be cloudy and very windy the entire time, with high temperatures barely reaching 60F during the day. With windchill and no sun, it felt much colder - so cold that I ended up buying a jacket from Nordstrom (and paid 9.5% sales tax for it - mind you, no sales tax on clothes in MA).

Why San Francisco?
I had just visited SF last fall with my mom, over the labor day weekend. (Trip report here: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...nd-museums.cfm ) Therefore, I hadn't planned on re-visiting SF so soon. However, a few months ago, we received a wedding invitation from one of DH's friend, so I thought that's a good reason for a re-visit.

When?
We arrived late Wednesday night, departed late Sunday night over Memorial Day weekend - therefore we had 4 full days in the city.

Transport in SF
I was undecided about getting a MUNI pass before our trip. A 3-day pass is $18, which is not inexpensive, considering a regular ride is only $1.50 (plus free transfer). Even though we were there for 4 full days, we rented a car for the last 1.5 days, so we only needed public transport for the first 2.5 days.

In the end, we did get the 3-day pass, and I didn't regret it. True, if we stuck with regular metro and buses only, we probably would have spent only about $13 per person for all our rides. However, it was nice to be able to ride the cable cars (which I hadn't done for probably a decade), and it was nice NOT to keep watching the clock to ensure we can use a transfer, and it was nice NOT to have to have change for all the rides.

With regards to the rental car, prices varied a lot depending on the company. I wanted an in-town pick-up, and an airport drop-off. My favorite company, Hertz, wanted over $200 for this 1.5-day rental, no matter which discount code I plugged in. I finally found the cheapest rate at Budget - with some discount code I found on the net - for under $50 total. I thought that was a pretty good deal.
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May 26th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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yk, I'm overdue for a SF trip, so this was informative.

My sympathies on the sales tax. Alaska and Oregon do not have one, so I'm always affronted. Seattle will look at my AK driver's license and waive it. Santa Fe would not however, darn.

On our last two trips we walked and rode the trolley cars, so knowing about the muni pass is interesting.
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May 26th, 2009, 07:56 AM
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May 26th, 2009, 08:34 AM
  #4
yk
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Hotel Review
Westin St Francis


http://www.westinstfrancis.com/index.cfm

I'll start with the hotel review since I know *someone* here is patiently waiting for this.

I'm a huge Priceline fan, so naturally, I used PL for a hotel in SF. I started bidding 2 months ago and I probably paid more than I would have if I had waited longer before bidding. I only bidded for 4* in the SOMA and USE zones, and won the Westin St Francis for $90/n using free re-bids. After fees and taxes, the rate is around $106/n.

Thanks to a recent detailed description by 111op here: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...omment-5572518
I had a good idea of what to expect.

A few days prior to arrival, I emailed the hotel informing them of our late arrival (11:30pm), a polite request for a quiet King if possible, and my SPG account #. My email was never acknowledged, and I am 99.9% convinced that it was either never read or simply deleted right away.

We took the BART from SFO to Powell Street station, and it was an easy 5-min walk to the hotel. At check-in, there was no mention of PL. I gave him my SPG card which he had to manually enter the #. He informed us that our room will be a Queen room. When I asked if they have any King available, he typed away for a while and then said, "Yes, we do have a King room for you. That will be an extra $35/night if you want it." We declined. However, he did tell us that we have a renovated room in the Tower. [I didn't ask about a double Queen room, so I don't know if we could have gotten one for free or at an extra $35/n.]

Our room has got to be the smallest hotel room I've ever stayed in within the US. When I studied the fire escape plan posted at the back of the door, it was obvious that our room is the smallest size among all. (N.B. the smallest rooms end in even # in the 70s.) It must measure no larger than 150 sq ft. Basically, the Queen bed takes up the entire room. On one side is about 5 ft of space where there is a work desk and chair. The other side, and the foot of the bed both have about 2 ft of space. The flat-screen TV sits on top of the minibar at a corner. Based on the fire escape plan, the rest of the rooms are at least 50% larger in size.

Bathroom is small too, but has plenty of shelf space. The room IS renovated, with modern furniture, but with an antique-style chandelier which I thought is a nice touch.

There is no view - looking within the building. Walls are very thin: I don't know if the rooms used to be twice the size and they put up new walls to divide them up? We could hear the TV from next door, and the couple "doing it" every day too!

Just FYI, our room is called the "Traditional Queen with no views". Here's a photo from the hotel's website:
http://www.westinstfrancis.com/images/accm5.jpg

Here's my photo:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3799.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3800.jpg

Maid Service
Thanks to 111op, I found the note (a hanging thing for the door) where one can choose to decline maid service. What you do is every night, before 2am, you hang that note on the door. The next morning, attached to the note is a $5 coupon which you can use for food service in the hotel. I think it's a great idea - not only the fact that we get the $5-off, but also we helped save water and energy by declining new set of towels and sheets daily. Of course, no maid service also means no refill of in-room coffee or shampoo/soap/conditioner either.

We used the coupons at Caruso's for breakfast twice. Caruso's is the breakfast/coffee bar inside the hotel. Prices are not cheap, but the benefit is that I could run down for some pastries and coffee/OJ and bring them back into the room, pretending that we are ordering room service for breakfast. Pastries are $3.25 each. (they also have yogurt, granola/parfait, fruit cup, bagels etc.) Their muffins, esp the banana nut muffin, is very good.

Internet Service
Initially, we were going to order in-room internet service (@ $14.95/day). When we asked about it at the check-in desk, the agent told us we could access the free Union Sq wifi from the hotel lobby. We did and it worked very well.

Parking
Hotel parking rate is somewhere between $40-50/day. Union Sq garage right across the street is about $30/day. We only needed parking for one night (Sat), and thanks to Fodorites (http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...ion-square.cfm ), I found out that the Sutter/Stockton garage has the best rate for weekends.

Sutter-Stockton Garage
Evening & Sunday Rates
Evenings 6pm - 7am
Sundays 7am-6pm
0-1 Hrs $2.00
1-2 Hrs $4.00
2-3 Hrs $5.50
3+ Hrs $7.50


We parked there between Sunday 1am -> Sunday 9:30am. The final charge was $13 ($7.50 until 7am, then $5.50 between 7-9:30am). It would have cost us $31 if we had parked at Union Sq garage.

I think the Ellis-O'Farrell garage is just as cheap too, and is probably closer to our hotel. I didn't get a chance to double-check its rate beforehand so we didn't try to park there.

Location
The hotel is right at Union Sq - which isn't my favorite area of the city. Last time my mom and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero and I prefer that. Since I don't like shopping, Union Sq has no appeal to me. It's too crowded, too much visual stimulation from all the shop windows.

The positive side is easy access to the Powell lines of the cable cars. Instead of standing in line forever at the Powell/Market turnaround, we waited at the next stop (Powell & Ellis) and we were able to get on right away.
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May 26th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Interesting. I could never get the free Wifi to work when I was there. I even tried to access the free Wifi right from Union Square after finding where I could plug in my laptop (since I forgot my battery), and that failed also.

Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong with my Wifi manager because I've been having really odd problems at home also.

I think your room was not as good as mine. Maybe I got lucky. Certainly I didn't hear any "noises."

Did you find the printer to print out your boarding passes?
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May 26th, 2009, 09:46 AM
  #6
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Day 1
California Academy of Sciences, Driving tour by easytraveler, Dinner at Perbacco


We started our day with "room service" breakfast, which I got from Caruso's downstairs. One problem with our tiny room is that there's only 1 chair - so we had to take turns eating breakfast.

The sky was clear and sunny when we left our hotel. We headed down to Powell/Market and found the MUNI booth (thanks Faina!) to buy our 3-day MUNI pass (note: cash only). We then took the N-Judah line from Powell station to 9th/Irving stop for Golden Gate Park.

We were meeting Fodorite easytraveler at the CA Academy of Sciences, but we had a few spare minutes, so we popped into the San Francisco Botanical Garden (free). We were wandering in the fragrance garden when easytraveler called to let us know she has arrived, so we headed to the Academy.

http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3801.jpg

The California Academy of Sciences opened last September, just after my labor day trip. The hype hasn't died down yet, as it was very crowded even on a Thursday. Easytraveler had already gotten us passes for both the Planetarium show and the 3-D movie in the afternoon (a million thanks to easytraveler!).
http://www.calacademy.org/

We first started at the RainForest, which is a 3-storey glass dome structure within the building. One begins at the first level, then follow the spiral ramp up to the 3rd floor. As one goes up, you get a different perspective of the rain forest. There are many kinds of butterflies inside the dome.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3817.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3821.jpg

At the top of the RainForest, one then takes the elevator down to the basement level, and emerge into the underwater section of the rainforest. This was really cool, as we walk pass the underwater tunnel through the rainforest, with all sorts of fish swimming around and above us.

The rest of the basement houses the Aquarium and is divided to several sections. We enjoyed all of it, though it would have been nicer if it were less crowded.
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3804.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3813.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3816.jpg

Next, we headed for the 12:30pm Planetarium show - fun and educational. Next to the exit is stairs up to the living roof, where native plants grow.
http://www.calacademy.org/academy/bu...e_living_roof/
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3834.jpg

We ate lunch at the Academy cafe, which offers plenty of choices and everything looks so tempting. I had the tofu/shitake mushroom in miso sauce with a side of multi-colored cauliflower. DH had the lamb curry. Both were delicious.

After lunch, we watched the Bugs! 3-D movie. Then we spent another 30-45 minutes at the rest of the exhibits: African Hall, evolution etc. Altogether, we spent 5 hours there and pretty much saw everything. Of course, this wouldn't have been possible if easytraveler hadn't planned this out in advance and got us passes for the shows right at the beginning.

By the time we left around 3pm, it had turned much colder, with cloudy skies and fog was rolling in. Easytraveler drove us across Golden Gate Bridge and stopped at 2 viewing points for views of SF and the GG Bridge. It was so windy that we almost got blown off the cliff! Great views though, even despite the fog.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3835.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3839.jpg

Next we stopped at Sausalito and had drinks at Spinnaker. While the rest of SF was cloudy, it was nice and sunny in Sausalito. Great views from Spinnaker. We also spotted a blue heron:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3840.jpg

We headed back to the city and passed by Palace of Fine Arts and stopped at the Letterman Digital Arts complex within Presidio. There is a lovely garden in the complex with a great view of Palace of Fine Arts:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3841.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3843.jpg

We also saw the old barracks at Presidio, and easytraveler even drove us past the Presidio Chapel, where the wedding would be held.

We then headed over to Legion of Honor, Cliff House and Sutro Baths ruins, before dropping us back at our hotel. What a great way to see the city with an insider guide!

I made dinner reservations at Perbacco for that evening. I was really looking forward to it, after reading all the raves here. Unfortunately, DH developed a severe headache right before dinner... We still went, but he felt so terrible that he couldn't eat anything (which is very, very unusual for him). I still enjoyed my dinner very much:
Appetizer was Roasted Octopus - juicy and meaty
Entree was Truffle-herbed gnocchi with roasted wild mushrooms. The gnocchi melted in my mouth.

Since DH was feeling so poorly, I skipped dessert.
http://www.perbaccosf.com/
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May 26th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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Great trip report - I, too, just returned from San Fran. yesterday after a marathon vacation to Prague, New York and Chicago, and you are right about one thing - IT WAS COLD AND WINDY!!! I had a sweater, but kept praying that I wouldn't catch cold...

Sorry about the small room at the Westin. That was on my short list of places to stay, but finally settled on the Bay Landing Hotel, about 1-1/2 mile from the airport. The package I got included a rental thru Avis, and I have to say, the hotel was quite lovely and most importantly clean and spotless (free bkft, internet and parking, as well).

Sounds as though you went to many of the places I went to - the Palace of Fine Arts was fabulous! Were you able to visit the 'Painted Ladies' in Alamo Square?
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May 26th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Yes, SF can get very cold! We came yesterday, at 6 - 7 pm, and I would love to have a winter coat And we were coming from the "North" - Niagara Falls.
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May 26th, 2009, 10:33 AM
  #9
yk
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111op - yes, I did find the computer/printer at the Westin lobby, but we didn't use it. There was a line: and we decided to check in for our flight at our friends' house.

mscleo - No, we didn't get a chance to visit alamo Sq. Next time, maybe? I think the Westin is a fine hotel to stay, as long as one is sure he's NOT reserving the Traditional Queen/No View room. The King and double Queen rooms are about $20-30 more expensive per night when I checked Westin's reservation site.
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May 26th, 2009, 11:10 AM
  #10
yk
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Day 2
Ferry Building, Railway Museum, SF City Guides Walk


DH felt much better when he woke up in the morning, and very hungry, so we went for a real breakfast this morning at Kuleto's; about 1 block south on Powell Street.
http://www.kuletos.com/

We had standard breakfast fare: Western Omelette for DH, blueberry pancakes for me. Not earth-shattering good, but pretty decent. Breakfast is not cheap, but of course, we're paying for its location. However, it's still probably half of what we would have paid if we ordered real room service at the Westin (which charges $10 for a bowl of cereal, $5 for toast + jam, and $18 for pancakes).

Initially, we had plans to take a ferry ride over to Oakland, as DH loves the water. However, it was still very chilly this morning. Recalling the cold gusty wind we encountered yesterday, we both decided we wouldn't enjoy any sort of boat ride.

Instead, we went to Ferry Building (today is Friday) to check out the shops. Nearby, is the San Francisco Railroad Museum (free). It is fairly small, but has some interactive displays for visitors to learn more about the historic street cars that run the F-Line. We both enjoyed our visit, and took some photos of the various street cars.

http://blog.streetcar.org/sfrm.html
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3847.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3848.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3845.jpg

We went back to Ferry Building to pick up some dessert tarts from Miette (to bring to our friends' place at dinner), then back to our hotel to drop them off.
http://www.miettecakes.com/

It's now lunch time, so I took DH back to a place I ate at last year: Samovar Tea Lounge located on the upper level of Yerba Buena Gardens. It has both indoor and outdoor seating, and I love the food there.

DH ordered the Moorish platter (which I had last year), and I had the Moorish Salad. Everything was very fresh and tasty. I especially love the grilled halloumi.
http://samovarlife.com/food/

After lunch, we walked pass the Contemporary Jewish Museum (didn't have time to pop in) before heading to the meeting point for a SF City Guides walking tour. We picked the City Scapes and Public Places tour, which 111op has described in his trip report.
http://www.sfcityguides.org/desc.html?tour=11

Perhaps because of the holiday weekend, our group was huge with over 30 people. Our guide, who does this tour once a month, said this is the largest group he has ever led. He did a great job despite the large group size, and we had no trouble hearing him even with all the traffic noise.

It was an enjoyable tour, as we visited interiors of various buildings and many rooftop gardens - all of these I wouldn't have normally ventured in or even known of its existence. Many places forbid photos, esp banks for security reasons. One of the most impressive places we visited is the Wells Fargo bank (no photos allowed).

Here are a few photos of some places we visited:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3855.jpg (can't recall which lobby this is)
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3861.jpg (modernist building at One Bush)
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3862.jpg (facade of Shell Building)
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3866.jpg (one of the roof gardens)
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3867.jpg

As you can see from the photos, it was fairly sunny that day. However, the wind was unrelenting and it was fairly cold, esp if we weren't standing in the sun. Therefore, at the end of the tour, I decided I had to buy a coat/jacket to wear at the wedding tomorrow (I had brought a sleeveless knee-length dress plus a light sweater.)

DH went back to the hotel, while I did a 1-hour power shopping. I HATE shopping, esp under time constraints. Thank goodness for the Westfield shopping center. (what is it called in the past? I remember those curving escalators.) It is a miracle that I found something that I like, that fits me (I'm petite so most coats have sleeves too long), and fairly affordable at Nordstrom. It was over 50% off regular price.

After a quick change back at our hotel room (and putting on my new jacket), we hopped on the Powell-Hyde cable car line to my friends' place in Russian Hill. Their condo is just 1 block from Hyde, so the cable car line was perfect. The PH cars were the most crowded, but with the strategy I described earlier (getting on at the first stop), we didn't have to wait in line at the turnaround.
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May 26th, 2009, 11:24 AM
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wonderful report yk! thanks for sharing... Samovar Tea Lounge looks fantastic!
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May 26th, 2009, 11:26 AM
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(what is it called in the past? I remember those curving escalators.)

When it was built, and until Westfield acquired it, it was just "San Francisco Centre". Then Westfield bought it and redeveloped the "other side" (what used to be the Emporium department store, and is now Bloomingdale's and the rest of the mall on that side (including the gorgeous rotunda, which they were required to keep)).
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May 26th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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yk...just read the first couple posts of your report, but looking forward to reading the rest tonight.

I'll be in San Francisco for the July 4th weekend...and was also debating the 3 day muni pass. I was leaning towards getting it, now I certainly will...seems to be so convenient!
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May 26th, 2009, 11:36 AM
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Hi yk!

I am seriously impressed at how much of your report you have done already. Wow!
Did you make it to the Tiffany exhibit?
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May 26th, 2009, 11:46 AM
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It seems like they gave you a "Priceline" room at the Westin. I have used PL many times and so far, have always had luck when requesting a king or end of hall room, without them asking me for extra $$. I usually call the hotel directly and make the request in advance, asking if they could note my preference. Upon check in, if I don't seem to be getting what I requested, I ask and like I said, I have been fortunate to have always been accomodated. That seems to be the chance you take with Priceline.

Did you use biddingfortravel.com yk? If so,I would post a hotel review on it to let folks know what kind of room you ended up with thru PL. I use that site to get ideas about accepted offers and for reviews [which are all that up to date].

Waiting for more..
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May 26th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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yk
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One more word about the MUNI Transport Pass:

Just to be clear: regular buses, metro, street cars (including the historic F-line) costs $1.50 per ride, with free transfer (within 2 hours I think). However, Cable Car fare is $5 per person. Therefore, the MUNI Passport is a good deal only if you plan on riding the cable car at least several times (which is what we did).

In another thread, I had asked about getting the MUNI transport map:
http://transit.511.org/static/provid...2200713107.gif

It costs $3 and I didn't buy one. Instead, at the MUNI booth (where I bought our passes), there are FREE SF city guide booklets where inside has a decent map with the *major* transport lines (cable cars, metro, F-line, and several bus lines). I found that free map good enough for our purpose. That same guide has plenty of discount coupons inside for various tours - such as HOHO bus, ferry cruises, bike rentals etc.

Day 3
Farmer's Market @ Ferry Building, Maritime National Historic Park, Dinner at Spruce


Today is Saturday, so of course we had to visit the Farmer's Market at Ferry Building! Unlike the last 2 days, today was completely overcast and damp. Let's just say I was really glad to have a new jacket to keep me warm!

Our first stop was the Blue Bottle Coffee Company for some drip coffee ($2), then the first cook-to-order stall on the side for breakfast. DH had the egg sandwich with apple-smoked bacon; I had scrambled eggs with asparagus and red torpedo onions. Both were served with home fries. It was really tasty, sadly, the food got cold quickly because of the weather.

We didn't stay for too long, simply because it was just too unpleasant to be wandering in the cold. We next hopped on the F-line street car to the last stop at Fisherman's Wharf.

I am NO FAN of FW: to me, it's a purely tourist trap. Hence, I haven't been back for 15 years (last visit I was still a college student and enjoyed the souvenir shops etc). So why are we heading there this time?

I found out the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park (part of NPS) is located there; and they offer free weekend walking tours of the historic waterfront.

http://www.nps.gov/safr/
http://www.nps.gov/pwr/customcf/apps...t99144707.html

Expecting a large crowd (like the SF City Guide tour), we were surprised to find ourselves the only people at the start of the tour. About 10 minutes into the tour, 3 more people joined us. It was a great tour and I highly recommend it. We learned about the history of the fishing industry in San Francisco, the history of the Argonaut hotel (used to be a warehouse) and the Cannery next door (used to be the canning facility for fruits), the bath house, the restored Hyde Street Pier, the commercial fishing fleet, plus a stop at a third-generation seafood shop (with their own fishing boats) where we met a dungeness crab.

http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3871.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3870.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3872.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3875.jpg
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3874.jpg

Our tour ended at the Fishermen's and Seamen's Memorial Church:
http://i406.photobucket.com/albums/p...9/IMG_3876.jpg

What we saw was so different from what I normally associate FW with (aka, Pier 39), and I trust that what we visited on this tour is not what most tourists saw at FW.

Too bad we didn't have time to visit any of the historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier - but we will next time!
http://www.nps.gov/safr/historycultu...ic-vessels.htm

We caught the F-line street car back to Ferry Building and ate lunch at Out the Door (the cheap version of Slanted Door).

The food is surprisingly authentic and good! DH had a pork vermicelli, and I had the duck rice porridge. The rice porridge is very authentic, with lots of duck meat. We also split a steamed sticky rice, and I had a Hong Kong milk tea.

After lunch, I bought some strawberries and blueberries from the farmer's market, then we picked up our Budget rental car from the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero location.

Even though I had reserved for a compact car, we were given a brand new Chevrolet Impala (16 miles on odometer), which is really a full-size car. We drove to the Sutter-Stockton garage and went back to our hotel room.

We had about 2 hours free before we had to leave for the wedding. It would make sense for us to go do some sightseeing (eg, Palace Hotel, SF MOMA, or CJM), but I was feeling so cold and had a headache from the cold wind (from the waterfront walk) that all I wanted to do was to get in bed and get warm.

The wedding ceremony was held at the Main Post Chapel inside Presidio Park. A very nice setting, and probably a great view if the weather cooperated!

Reception dinner was held at Spruce, located in the Presidio Heights district. OMG, the food was incredible! We had a 6-course dinner, and everything was superb. My favorite is the seared petrale sole, dungeness crab, in champagne butter. But really, the food is so, so, so good.
http://www.sprucesf.com/
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May 26th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Keep it coming!

[Also, to clarify -- Cable car is $5 per person, per ride. Everytime you get on and off, it is $5, there are no on/off privledges and no transfers.]

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May 26th, 2009, 12:53 PM
  #18
yk
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 23,649
sf7307 - thanks for the info. I just remember being awed by those curving escalators when I first saw them in the early 1990s... I rode on them this time, and I literally got dizzy (ie, motion sickness).

Kristina - I re-read your TR before I left for my trip! There's so much useful tidbits there. I had to write this right away because I didn't take notes on this trip, and I found myself already forgetting lots of details.

LCI - Yes, the pass is definitely convenient, but not a money-saver if you have a tight budget.

Deb - I used to post reviews on BFT, but now I only post them on tripadvisor. I've noticed some reviews on TA where the posters also got the tiny room via PL but not 100% of the time. BTW, those tiny rooms are not reserved solely for PL winners. Again - they are listed as "Traditional Queen with no views" if you go through Westin's own reservation system.
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May 26th, 2009, 01:44 PM
  #19
yk
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Correction:

I was wrong about the location of our hotel room. It is in the Historic building (12 floors total) but a recently-renovated room. I don't know if the small rooms in the Tower building are as small.
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May 26th, 2009, 03:02 PM
  #20
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Day 4
Legion of Honor, two great Chinese meals


Our last day began with another "room service" breakfast from Caruso's; using up our coupons. Then it was time to check out and get our car from the garage.

We arrived at Legion of Honor at just after 10am. My main goal was to see the Artistic Luxury: Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique which closes end of May. We have reciprocal membership, so instead of $20, we only had to pay $10 for the special exhibit. OMG, we couldn't believe how crowded it was (museum opens at 9:30am). It was literally packed wall-to-wall. Since many of the objects are fairly small and require close inspection, this created lines everywhere. Having said that, I still really enjoyed this: lots of beautiful objects and Art Nouveau designs. My favorite is definitely the Lalique designs. We only spent an hour there as we had to leave, but I probably could have spent another 30 minutes or more.
http://www.famsf.org/legion/exhibiti...ibitionkey=977

We didn't have time to visit the permanent collection, as we were meeting one of DH's friend for lunch in San Mateo. They chose Little Shanghai - pretty decent Shanghainese food I'd say. My favorites were: scallion pancake, deep-fried dough, cold spicy noodles, and vermicelli soup with fried tofu. We also had the Xiao Long Bao (Shanghainese dumplings) which I thought was good - not great. Other dumplings we had I found the skin too thick and not delicate enough. But overall, very good Shanghainese food.

We spent the afternoon visiting a friend of mine in San Mateo, then drove over San Mateo Bridge to visit some relatives of mine in Pleasanton. We had dinner at Koi Garden in Dublin, the same place where we ate last time when I visited them.

The food at Koi Garden is very good as well. We ordered their Peking Duck set dinner, which included:
Peking Duck 3 ways
Steamed crab
Steamed fish of the day
Xiao Long Bao

In addition, we ordered a dish of freshly steamed shrimps.

http://www.koipalace.com/koigarden/shell.html?page=home

Once again, I underestimated the time needed to get to SFO, get gas, return car rental, ride the AirTrain to our terminal... etc. Fortunately, we had checked in for our flight and had BP in hand, and no checked luggage; otherwise, we probably would have missed it as we arrived at our gate just 30 minutes before departure and they had already started boarding.

Our flight home was uneventful. For once, I was actually able to sleep pretty well on a red-eye flight, even though the entire flight was full.

[We flew on AA and took advantage of the triple miles from Boston offer. I earned over 21,000 miles on this trip.]

~ END ~

I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Highlights of this trip
CA Academy of Sciences; private driving tour by easytraveler
Historic Waterfront Walk by NPS at Fisherman's Wharf
Fantastic dinners at both Spruce and Perbacco
Artistic Luxury exhibition
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