I'm not amused with this website. I had written a long blog for both Saturday and Sundays activities in San Francisco so as to be up to date by the time Caroline arrived out from the UK to join me for the last part of my trip (I mean who wants to wine taste alone!) but the site crashed and I lost my blogging. As I was not in the mood to write it all again and since Caroline arrived finding time to write has been hard, I am writing this as a summary now of all the things I did while in the city to at least have a record of what I did.
Saturday was a day spent discovering the city by myself. Since many people had told me how much I would love San Francisco (and some people had told me this more than once, you know who you are :-) my expectations were very high.
I rode the trolley from Castro (close to where I was staying) down to Fisherman's Wharf. Rather amusingly I declined getting on the first bus that arrived to my intended destination, in favor of the historical San Fran Trolley, and lo and behold the old trolley I caught had originated in Philadelphia! I did not stay long at Fisherman's Wharf since it was very touristy but had a quick look around and then walked up to the famous Lombard Street. I realized I had found it when I saw the large groups of yet more tourists taking photos of this windy steep road in which cars snaked down under the guidance of traffic police. It is very true to say that San Fran is bursting with tourists. For lunch I walked down to one of the piers and had a crab salad and a wine flight (just getting ready for Sonoma) while looking over the Marina, then walked to Ferry Plaza and spent some time browsing the fabulous restaurants and food stalls making a mental note to come back another day with Caroline. I picked up sushi on the way home and as Christian was going to be out at a party I had an early night, I was also tired from the days walking, this city has some VERY steep streets.
Sunday I got up early and caught a bus to the marina area so I could go running. That was the plan and it turned into a 3 hour excursion, since I had to walk from Christians place to Castro area to pick up the bus. The bus took about 40 mins to get to the Marina area and I realized I needed to save some energy after my run as to catch the bus back I was going to have to walk the 6 very steep blocks back that I had just walked down to start the run. It was lovely running along the Marina through Chrissy Field and along the coast towards the Golden Gate Bridge. It looked magnificent rising up through the fog and I realized just how lucky I have been to run in some amazing places around the world. This was definitely one of them and very inspiring. I got back to Christians around noon, packed my things and took a taxi to my next Airbnb accommodation which was in the Richmond part of the city. Caroline was going to meet me there once her flight arrived from the UK later in the day. The apartment was nice, had a bit of a funny smell (but nothing a Glade plug in I bought could not solve) I think because it was a basement unit and it was also a little noisy since it was at the bottom of a family home, but that did not matter since we were spending very little time there. Caroline arrived fine and we went straight out for dinner to a great place called Foreign Cinema. It was in the Mission District of the city, which while I am told is "up and coming" was also the kind of place you wanted to keep your wits about you, there were all types of people wandering around. The cinema had a cute patio area and old black and while films were projected onto a white wall at the back. Food and service were both excellent and it was a great start to our week of food and wine tasting.
On Monday Caroline and I visited Alcatraz, this is an extremely popular excursion and luckily Caroline had booked our tickets weeks in advance. It took a while to actually get to the island (lots of waiting in line and then getting everyone onto and off the ferry) but once there, the self-guided tour was very informative. We also lucked out since a docent (that was a word I'd never heard before!) took a small group of 12 of us to the old hospital wing which was closed to the general public for a mini tour, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It seems they do offer these ad hoc small tours from time to time but since there must have been over 2000 people looking around Alcatraz we were lucky to have found this. Once we got back to the mainland we walked down to Ferry Plaza (the amazing food hall I found on Saturday) and had a lovely long lunch at the Slanted Door and then some ice-cream from the Humphry Slocombe stall and then wandered around looking at all the other lovely food places. I think Caroline loves food more than I do :-)
We were up early again Tuesday morning since we were leaving later in the day for Napa. En route to our morning Magic Bus Tour we picked up our hire car so we could dump our bags in the boot. We had booked a convertible (I mean why not!) which was a total treat for me really being on a travelers budget, and when we arrived to collect it we had been upgraded to a V8 engine, bright red, Camaro. I know very little about cars but Caroline was extremely excited and started busily texting her husband to inform him of our luck. Reluctantly we left the beautiful car parked and made our way to the allotted meeting point for the Magic Bus Tour. This was a tour that took us around parts of the city influenced by the Beatniks and Hippies and focused on the music scene in the area and the summer of love vibe of the 60s. The bus was totally pimped out hippy style and even had bubbles blowing out of the back of it as we drove through the city. From time to time screens would drop down inside the bus with video footage of the city and music videos of what the guide (who was dressed in 60s hippy gear and in total character and quite frankly rather annoying by the end of the 2 hour tour as she was very over the top to say the least) was explaining.
After the tour we picked up the car, put the roof down and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge out of the city to Napa.