San Francisco - revisited

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Motel 6 San Rafael
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, May 21, 2012

We returned to the Bay area. Motels in this city are not cheap - and if you do find one, they will charge $25 a day to park your car - or more! So, we tried to balance things out and add a little excitement by staying on the north side of the Bay in San Rafael and accessing the city by commuter ferry. The ferry from Larkspur gives a 30 minute direct service into the San Francisco Ferry Plaza in the heart of Downtown. The car parking at Larkspur is free which helps to ameliorate the $17.50 return ticket price. We left our Motel at 7:35 and were walking down Market Street in Downtown at 8:20 - impressive!

We then decided to buy an all-day Muni-Pass ($14 each) giving us unlimited travel on local buses, Street Cars and Cable Cars. Given that a single ride in the Cable Car is $6 we thought we'd get good use out of - and we did! After the daily coffee and bagel stop, we boarded a Cable Car in the direction of Fisherman's Wharf and got off at Lombard Street - the zig-zag road we drove yesterday. This famous street was already awash with tourists and getting decent photos was a hard job on account of other people in the way, the steep gradient and traffic trying to use the surrounding roads! From there we walked down to Ghirardelli's for a break - and some chocolate. I was treated to a wonderful luscious strawberry that had been dipped in chocolate - nice. As well as refreshments and chocolate on sale, there are some working exhibits demonstrating the four-part process for making chocolate. See the video for a view of these.

From there we walked past Fisherman's Wharf to Pier 39 and lunch. We decided on Bubba Gump's a themed sea-food chain of restaurants developing a theme on the film character Forrest Gump. We had great views out across the Bay from the end of the pier and enjoyed some really good fresh sea food. 

We decided to digest that before taking our boat trip in the Bay and so went by Street Car and bus in search of the Painted Ladies. We got to Alamo Square with its nice park and row of well-kept Victorian houses on the east side. Climbing up the park gave an impressive vista of both the houses and the Downtown skyline as a backdrop. One of the houses sold in 2010 for $4m!

From there we retraced our steps to Pier 39 and boarded the boat for a tour of the Bay - even though the Golden Gate Bridge was completely obscured by clouds. Photos from the day are here. The tour was fascinating and as we'd had the privilege of seeing the Bridge in full sunlight the previous day, we felt this murky view added to our enjoyment rather than subjected from it. The fog meant that the boat had time to fill to deliver its 90 minute tour and so we circled Alcatraz Island slowly - twice (see the video for a look). We decided against a tour of the Island - saving that for a future trip :-). The harbour was busy with three massive container ships moving in or out of the port during our tour.

As we had enjoyed our visit to Nick's Lighthouse Restaurant (Fisherman's Wharf) so much the evening before, we decided to revisit rather than chance a new location. Again, we were not disappointed - excellent fare. To walk off our supper we went to the Cable Car Turnaround at Beach and Hyde and joined the permanent queue to get onboard. We managed to get front seats (side-on) and greatly enjoyed riding at dusk - a completely different experience. Do look at the videos below. The gradients are so steep, it's amazing that it hangs together. We just had time to catch a bus along Market Street back to the Ferry Plaza to catch the last ferry back to Larkspur at 9:35.

A brilliant day out in an amazing city. A must-see place for everyone!
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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