Sightseeing in San Francisco and dinner at Coi
Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
192Trip End Oct 14, 2011
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Where I stayed
I checked out of my hotel in Berkeley and drove over to my new hotel in San Fransisco. I couldn't check in yet but I was able to leave my car there. Then I took off on foot.
I didn't have much of a plan. I just looked at a map and walked toward the nearest attraction. The first place I visited was the St. Boniface Catholic Church. The sign by the door said that services were until 12:00 and they were open until 1:00. It was about 12:15. Great. I had 45 minutes to check it out. When I went in there were a lot of people there. The interior is a bit dirty and warn but it's an attractive church with a lot of decorative painting. I sat down and got out my camera. Then a service started. So much for signs. I didn't want to get up and walk out so I waited for the service to end. Then I snapped a few pictures and left.
The next place I went was the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. It's a very modern design. The ceiling curves up from all sides to the 255-foot central spire. There is a thin strip of stained glass going up each of the four sides forming a cross.
My next stop was the Grace Cathedral. It's a large, dark, Gothic cathedral with some nice architectural features. Among them are two labyrinths that are copies of the one at the Chartres Cathedral, one at the rear of the church and one outside. I had to wait quite a while to get a picture since there was a steady stream of people following the path of the labyrinth to its center and back out again. I can't say I saw the attraction but many people apparently do.
Then I walked by the famous block of Lombard Street, frequently claimed to be the crookedest street in the world although Ripley's Believe It Or Not! once gave that award to a street in Iowa. After that I went to the San Francisco Art Institute. It's a school but they have a couple galleries as well as a lot of works by the students on display. It also has good views of parts of the city.
I intended my next stop to be the submarine USS Pampanito. Unfortunately, when I got there it was already closed for the day even though it was supposed to be open for another two hours. I've been curious to see a U.S. World war II-era sub since I toured a Soviet sub in Kaliningrad. I'll have to try again another day.
On the same pier as the sub is the Musee Mecanique, a museum full of vintage coin-operated arcade attractions dating from the 1880s, including fortune--telling machines, player pianos, photo booths, pinball machines and Ms. Pac-Man.
After all my change was gone I started heading toward where I was having dinner. The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was on the way so I stopped in. This is where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio had their wedding pictures taken. The outside was completely covered by scaffolding but the church was still open. There were a lot of people inside and I got the sense that a service was going to start soon. I didn't want to sit through a second Mass so I quickly left.
I went to the City Lights bookstore, which played a large part in the Beat movement. The neighborhood is also famous for the Condor Club, which was the first topless club in the U.S. when Carol Doda appeared in a Rudi Gernreich topless swimsuit. She went on to become one of the first women to get surgically enhanced breasts when she got silicone injections. The bookstore is still run by the same person and stocks an interesting mix of books. I browsed through there for a while and then headed past all the strip clubs to Coi.
I came across reviews of Coi when I was looking for good restaurants to visit on this trip and decided to stop in. They are one of three San Francisco-area restaurants with a Michelin two-star rating. They did not appear on Restaurant Magazine's World's Best Restaurants list in 2010 but have been added to the 2011 list at number 75. Chef Daniel Patterson is famous for using locally sourced and frequently foraged ingredients in his dishes.
Although I can't say much for the neighborhood with a strip club as a neighbor, the interior of the restaurant was nice. They have a small private room and two dining rooms each decorated in a somewhat different style. One of the interesting decorations is a series of prints of MRI's of various food items.
I ordered the 11-course tasting menu with some vegetarian substitutions. I actually received I believe it was 15 courses. It was a very good meal. Chef Patterson personally brought out one of the dishes but I didn't know who it was until afterward and I missed my chance to chat with him. I got a kitchen tour. It's quite small as is the kitchen staff but then the restaurant is relatively small as well.
It was around midnight when I left the restaurant. I thought about taking a taxi but I decided to walk. The neighborhood around the hotel isn't the best and I had to deal with a number of homeless people. This is the first place where I've noticed homeless people with cell phones.