Friday, May 9, 2014

A Few Hours in San Francisco

We were meeting our friend Eddie McCoy in San Francisco to kick-off the Big Sur Marathon Weekend and Eddie's completion of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. On paper his flight from Atlanta and our flight from Chicago would arrive within 3 minutes of each other. In actualality, it was 35 minutes.

We were spending the night in San Francisco before trekking off the next morning to Monterey. We stayed at the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf hotel mainly because it was very close to Pier 39 and Ghiradelli Square - which were sights we were going to take in quickly Saturday morning. The hotel definitely catered to tourists and we noticed many of international guests hovering around the lobby.

Another reason for picking the Sheraon was its easy walking distance to Rogue Public House. This is an offshoot of the popular Portland brewery. Local options were much farther and mostly closed by the time we arrived in town. Rogue had a decent selection of beers available, about 20 of their own and another dozen guest taps. Food was good and our selections included mahi mahi fish and chips, fish tacos, and the kobe burger. We didn't stay out very long since we were jet-lagged and had very trying days. We agreed to set alarms for 8am and text each other when we were ready.

Dave got up to turn off the alarm and checked the Facebook. Apparently Eddie could not sleep and spent a few hours walking around. Good thing since he scouted out some great places to take in the city views. We walked a couple blocks over to Boudin's - a great San Francisco bakery and maker of sourdough bread. Some of our selections included bagels, cinnamon rolls, croissants, and chocolate chip cookies.

After breakfast and obligatory Fisherman's Wharf pictures we took a mile walk and headed to the curved pier at the San Francisco National Maritime Park. This location gave us great views of the cityscape, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. We were fortunate that the skies were clear and the fog didn't roll in. Our next stop was Ghiradelli Square. Since it was almost 10am Eddie and Dave decided ice cream would be a good idea. We took in the display of how chocolate was made and let Holly give a tour of the bearings in the machinery.

A few minutes later we were standing on a corner waiting for a cable car. We got onto a crowded car and moved to the inside-center. At the next stop, the top of the crooked portion (curvy, not corrupt) of Lombard Street the car cleared out and we got to move over and hang off the side. We rode for about 15 minutes into the center of downtown near Union Square. This experience was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

At the turnaround, we found a cab and headed back to Pier 39. We wanted to look for small souveneirs and view the sea lions. It happened to be Coast Guard Appreciation Day so we got to watch them setup and bring some boats into the area.
Back to the hotel and into the rental car. We drove to the bottom of Lombard Street, saw the crowds, and decided not to bother driving down it. Once we starting mapping our route using Siri we ended up going around the block and ended up at the top of the Lombard hill. There was no line! Dave made a quick decision and turned left so we could enjoy the fun of all the hairpin turns. A few hours later we ended up in Santa Cruz, an edgy beach town, for lunch at Seabright Brewing. Great beer and food, but their men's room decorations maybe were too much for a place that allows kids.

The rest of the ride to Monterey was through the California agriculture area. Now we know where our produce comes form. Lots of farms and road stands selling avocados, strawberries, etc. we saw lots of workers in the fields picking the berries.

Finally some views of The Pacific Ocean came into sight and we were ready for the next part of this adventure.

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