1999 San Francisco

Saturday 22nd May

We had a pretty good flight, landing etc. Waited for one and a half hours for our Virgin transport to the hotel and got here to find a room instead of the suite that Andrew paid for all is well. Andrew has bought Laura two Furbys for company.

We had a wander around Fullmore Street, found some really great shops and interesting fodder places. Saw some lovely Victorian houses like the Purple house. Ate at Ruth Chris Steak House, amazing steaks lovely wine, then fell into bed for some zzz’s as it was about 4am home time by then.

Sunday 23rd May

Hot muffins and coffee for breakfast, then armed with a map off the intrepid explorers go! Andrew has first choice for exploring today, so after buying a bus pass (no mean feat!) we set off for Ghirardelli Square. Wow! A sensory overload of amazing little shops selling woods, clothes, kaleidoscopes, ornaments of every conceivable nature! We bought nothing but decided to walk to cool Laura’s brain down till we find out which bits we can’t do without.

We walked for hours taking in Fisherman’s Wharf where we stopped for lunch, an outsized sourdough roll containing clam chowder for me and chilli for Andrew.

At Pier 39 we watched the sea lions for a while, then sat at the sea front looking out at Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and watched the world go by.

We checked out Gaylord’s Indian Restaurant for dinner (and decided we prefer Stony Stratford).

Our hotel then felt like a good idea as we had walked many miles, we returned knackered but happy to bed!

Tomorrow is Chinatowns turn.

Monday 24th May

The intrepid explorers set out for Chinatown today. We decided that the cable car was the best and most fun way to go. It is a case of get on and hang on as people are allowed to stand on the outside runners, and there is no such thing as sorry we are full, good fun!

We wandered for hours, lunched at The Floating Sushi Boat which was delicious.

We walked out of Chinatown to see two lovely churches, one in pictures and a mini Notre Dame, then walked up the straight end of Lombard St. to Telegraph Hill and the Coit Tower, both very steep hills. We went up the tower and the views are incredible, all of San Francisco set out before us, well worth the trek.

Sauntering downhill we found Chinatown again and stopped at a cafe for coffee and wine. A ride on the cable car took us back to Van Ness (all our journeys start from Van Ness 3 blocks down and 3 blocks across from the hotel) where we dumped the loot bought today and freshened up for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Full of yummy fajitas and burgers and wine we wend our way back for coffee and brandy and the wakening of Furbey as Andrew has bought a screwdriver to start him up.

He chatters unintelligibly for a while then announces he is tired and begins to snore. We decide he is right so it’s zzz’s all round.

Tuesday 25th May

Today we decided to go to the Golden Gate Park, it’s a lovely day so we walked taking in some of the Japanese section, which is very picturesque.

Our first stop was the Japanese Tea Gardens and some Jasmine tea. It’s a really beautiful garden with lots of lovely little buildings and gorgeous plants and trees. We wandered on from there to the Asian Art Museum to have lunch in the garden and see the paintings, sculptures, pottery etc.

Whilst there we took photos of mother duck and her seven ducklings and some terrapins sunbathing on the rocks in a little pond. From there we made our way to the Botanic Gardens and the Arboretum where we sauntered for a couple of hours, taking in all the trees and plants from around the world.

Then went up to Stow Lake and walked around most of it encountering a flock of hungry pigeons.

With weary feet we found a bus and had a pizza with wine in a nice little bistro. We are retiring early tonight, the intrepid explorers have blistered feet.

Wednesday 26th May

Spent time bookings for trips to Napa etc. for wine tasting. We walked down Octavia, stopping off at Lafayette Park for a rest from climbing big hills, and on to Pacific Heights.

We meandered, looking at lovely Victorian houses, then continued down till we found Ho’s Chinese restaurant where we stopped for lunch.

Full and rested we continued down to Fisherman’s Wharf, wandered a while, then on to Ghirardelli Square for coffee and window shopping.

We then queued for a cable car to Union Square and looked around Macey’s, the view at the top is pretty good. We walked again from there back up to Sutter, then down Van Ness to Harris’s for some lovely steak’s and wine. I think we walked at least halfway round San Francisco today, so time for bed.

Thursday 27th May

Caught a bus to Union Square and wandered around a few shops, decided that Saks has not the right type of clothes for Andrew.

We lunched at a Mexican restaurant, then later found Lori’s Diner, {a 50’s cafe playing Elvis and Patsy Cline}for coffee and pancakes. It has a motor bike over the counter and and old Edsel car at the back of the cafe and red glitter vinyl booths and stools, really cool.

Wandered up though Chinatown, then down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we bought a fleece jacket each, as it’s very cold today. Andrew’s is navy, I wanted a tangerine one, but Andrew said that I looked like Kenny, so we got me a red one. Now I look like a beef tomato, but he says that he won’t lose me!

We picked up our tickets for our evening cruise to Alcatraz. It’s a really good tour with guides to tell you the whole history, from army barracks when it was used as a fort, right through to present day. There is an audio tour through the prison with tapes recorded by past prisoners and wardens, which really adds to the atmosphere. It was a really brilliant evening and Andrew and I agreed that it’s one of our favourite places so far. The skyline of San Francisco all lit up for the evening was something to behold too…..

Friday 28th May

Well today started pretty badly, at 6.30 a.m. we finally got the phone call from virgin to say that we were booked on to the Napa Valley wine tour, which should have been confirmed on Wednesday. We got to the departure coach near Union Square to find we’d been booked to see an aquarium instead and the Napa tour was full already! This left us the other side of town with nowhere to go. We came back to the hotel thinking unspeakable thoughts about virgin.

Instead we’ve rented a bright red Beetle, it’s Really Cute. So, our day improving rapidly off we set on the 49 mile tourist route. It’s a great way to check up on how thoroughly we did it all on foot, there really wasn’t much we’d missed out. Twin Peaks was one place, the highest in San Francisco, but you do need a car for this. I was well worth the trip but very misty at the top.

Wended down again and stopped for late lunch at the Beach Cabin on Great Highway near Seal Rock, excellent food and brewed in house beer. We finished the 49 mile scenic route then found Lombard Street, a must to drive down at least once!

Parked up near Ghirardelli’s and stopped for coffee then bought me a baseball hat in black which says ‘Spoiled’ { which I am.}

Had wood smoked pizzas with a sampler of six different beers (again all brewed in house) for dinner at the Steelhead Diner. Another lovely day - but they are going too fast now.

Toto the Furbey farts nearly as much and as loudly as Andrew - he really does learn by example!

Saturday 29th May

The intrepid explorers set off for Sausolito this morning to find some sunshine without the wind.

It’s my turn to drive today, so Andrew’s brave and fearless, as I’ve never driven abroad before.

We went over the Golden Gate Bridge and it was a beautiful day. We parked up and strolled down past the Marina, there are some lovely yachts here.

The Galleries are pretty unusual too, we found one selling Red Indian jewellery and crafts, another sold amazing designer glass work, as well as the usual paintings.

We had lunch at S’comas - red clam chowder and prawn sandwiches, and steam beer.

We wandered around some more, bought Andrew a T-shirt and a yellow peace lily for the vase in our cute little red Beetle.

We zoomed back over the bridge and up to the Legion of Honour for a coffee and some culture.

It’s a beautiful old building full of incredible paintings including 3 Monet’s, lots of sculptures and pottery etc. and an organist playing classical music live to accompany your meanderings.

Leaving there we drove down to Seal Rock where we’d booked dinner at the Cliff House restaurant with beautiful sea views. The first European type meal we’ve had here, totally yummy and with lovely wine and vintage port for Andrew.

Sunday 30th May

Another beautiful day, so we headed out to Sonoma Valley via the Golden Gate bridge and up into the hills.

We stopped at Viansa Winery where we tasted some lovely wines, the best of which was La Nebbia Nebbiolo 1997. I had a glass with a lunch of barbecued steak and chicken sandwiches which we shared. Afterwards we drove off to Sonoma itself, a lovely old fashioned little town where we wandered, taking photo’s, checking out wine and coffee and enjoying the scenery for an hour or two.

Then to Glen Ellen which is very rustic and pretty to find the Jack London Winery and Olive Press a really good place to stop. Unfortunately the wine tasting was finished for the day, but you could still try the olive oil, balsamic vinegars, and raspberry champagne vinegars. If you are an olive oil connoisseur this is where to buy your oils.

On the way back we stopped at the roadside at the Cherry Tree to buy some cherry cider and fresh cherry juice - excellent stuff.

Andrew found the cruise control for the Beetle on the way back, “Look,” he said waving his arms and legs around doing the dying fly impression “the Beetle can drive itself now”

Had Tony Roma ribs for dinner in our suite.

We are meeting up with John Foggitt’s friend Kerensa tomorrow……

Monday 31st May

We met Kere at our hotel at 10 a.m. and set off to Muir Woods to visit the Redwood trees. They are so tall and indescribably beautiful, we meandered for a while, taking photos and taking in the atmosphere.

Andrew got really bad stomach cramps again, (the ribs seem to have affected him badly) so we dropped him back at the hotel.

We stopped at Beebles Pie Place for a delicious chicken pie and orange juice in Union St. then Kere and I continued with our day out and I drove to the San Andreas Fault, and after a video stop drove over the bridge and up to Half Moon Bay, a really pretty area. We stopped off by the sea for a walk, just outside Santa Cruz then drove on to Big Basin, through some really lovely places that I can’t remember the names of. Big Basin was almost deserted when we got there, so we walked and talked and admired the even larger and taller and incredible Redwoods there. Kere told me that the Redwoods have to be burned on the bark in order for the seedlings to reproduce and grow. We found the Mother tree and the Father tree, the oldest and largest trees I have ever seen. There is something so tranquil about sitting in an empty forest and listening to the trees and birds.

We found a Redwood with a hollow centre, I went and sat inside and felt that the tree was lending me it’s tranquillity and peace, it’s an amazing experience.

Kere and I set off back to San Francisco, it was a lovely drive back, through the redwoods for a few miles before hitting the freeway again.

I am so glad that Andrew at least got to see Muir Woods. Kere has been a lovely companion and has told me a lot about the trees and about San Francisco in general, I have thoroughly enjoyed our day together.

Back at the hotel Andrew is feverish and still has cramps, but seems a bit more cheerful.

Tuesday 1st June

Today is wet, windy and misty, so we headed to Stinson Beach hoping it would be quiet there by the sea. It is a lovely long sandy beach, the sea was moody and wonderful, we walked for ages. Eventually we headed inland again and parked up at Fisherman’s Wharf for a hot coffee and a bowl of clam chowder each to warm us up again. We are taking things easy today as Andrew’s stomach still isn’t 100% yet.

We had not been over the Oakland Bay Bridge yet, so decided to do that today. Such a weird bridge, we didn’t realise till we were in lane to cross it that it is a double decker bridge. The bottom half takes you across to Berkley, with a stage half way across to get off at Treasure Island (closed) and the top half, with the pretty view brings you back.

We drove through Berkley and then down to the marina which is very pretty, parked up and took some photo’s from wobbly floating bridge. Then drove back on the top of the bridge, as it is absolutely persisting down.

Ate at A Sabella’s tonight’s restaurant choice, prawns in pernod for Andrew and filet mignon for me. Back to the hotel for a glass of rather lovely Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 1997.

Then bed, which incidentally got a new mattress today.

Tomorrow we will go to Carmel if the Lord and Master is up to it.

Wednesday 2nd June

Today we almost made it to Carmel, I drove up highway one, the coastal road, with lovely views of the sea all the way.

We stopped at Santa Cruz for a wander around the {famous from the song boardwalk} an old amusement arcade and fairground.

We rode on the giant dipper, a wooden roller coaster, {the 7th oldest in U.S.A}which opened in August 1924. We were brave and fearless, it’s one of the worst roller coaster rides Andrews been on and I hate them anyway. Andrew won me a cuddly seahorse too.

We ate at a good Mexican place, fajitas and a banana, pineapple & coconut smoothie to die for. Arrived at the Monterey Plaza Hotel around 6 p.m. Our room is nice with a great view of the sea and a balcony.

Had a walk by the sea & a beer, then went to change for dinner at the hotel, which was overpriced and way below average.

We will get to Carmel tomorrow!!

Thursday 3rd June

We woke up at 6am to torrential rain bouncing off of the balcony. By 9.30 it had stopped raining, but was cold and rather bleak.

We decided to go to the aquarium which was amazing, we took lots of photos. The cafe there did a good pizza for lunch too.

The sun has got her hat on this afternoon, so we drove along the coast to Big Sur, with stops along the way to take pictures of the sea.

Carmel….. yes we got here at last!

We are staying at Hofsas House which is painted pink, and have a lovely room, balcony & sea view what more can you ask?

Carmel is very picturesque, pretty houses, loads of art galleries and quaint little shops and of course the beach.

We ate Italian tonight at Pernille fresh fish and a bottle of Chateau Julien Grand Reserve Monterey Merlot 1996 an excellent wine, one of the best we have had here.

There was a lovely sunset on our way back to the hotel.

Friday 4th June

Carmel is really is gorgeous, we could live here. The little Art Galleries are brilliant, we particularly enjoyed the Weston which has loads of Ansel Adams photography, some truly wonderful prints. Andrew bought one of his books there.

Another place we really liked was the New Renaissance Gallery, some brilliant seascapes, and three paintings by Seiver, one in particular a snip at $6580, of Paris at the turn of the Century.

The consultant, (who was trying hard to sell it to us) showed it to us in the viewing room, it was amazing how much the light changed it. In full light it was sunlit, clear and light. But as she turned down the light it grew more moody and on dim it looked cloudy, misty, the houses lights were lit and the pavement looked wet as if it had suddenly rained.

We looked around the original Blue Dog Gallery, then bought some chocolate & a pretty Carmel T-shirt for me. We lunched in a local bakery beef and chicken rolls and a delectable apricot gooey cake thing that Andrew found, then drove down to the sea and wandered taking photos and walking, the sand is so white it hurts your eyes.We found a crooked house that I’d love to live in, the cypress trees are all windswept and interesting, the whole place is just perfect.

We reluctantly left {we have a plane to catch tomorrow} and drove to Big Basin to show Andrew the giant Redwoods. We followed the same trail as Kere & I did the other day and found the Mother Tree where we sat inside, incredible and wonderful.

It’s time to head back to San Francisco, time for our last dinner at Ruth Chris Steak House….

Saturday 5th June

Packed and then reluctantly took the cute little red Beetle back. We walked down to Fillmore St. to the Thai Stick for an excellent lunch.

The weather is amazing today, San Francisco has it’s hottest day since we arrived so we want to stay and explore some more…

The Pictures