Friday, May 19, 2017

Three Days in San Francisco - Part Two

Time to start another over programmed day! After a quick breakfast in the hotel we made our way through an empty Financial District to the Embarcadero and the Ferry Terminal. The iconic building is home to a great indoor market everyday, and a farmer's market 3x a week. There were maybe 70-100 vendors selling many different food items with varied ethnicities. We did not end up buying anything from the outdoor market since we were not hungry yet. We did end up buying some Italian style donuts from an indoor vendor. If we lived or worked anywhere near this place it would be trouble - so many great items for a lunch, snack, or to bring home and cook.

Our next stop was Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies, or more popularly known as the Full House-houses. Parking in this residential area was a challenge, especially since we were not the only ones with this idea. A bummer about the experience was the park was under construction and mostly fenced off. These are not the only pretty homes in the area and if you want a fun game to play when you visit walk around with Zillow open on your phone.

We didn't stay in Alamo Square long because we had a lot more boxes to check-off. We drove over to The Presidio to take in a few attractions. First stop was the Yoda statue outside the Lucasfilm corporate office. We peeked in the windows and there were a ton of great items on display in the lobby. Too bad we didn't come on a weekday. After visiting Yoda we went to the visitor's center for our National Park stamp. It would have been a better experience if we remembered to bring our stupid National Parks Passport. We are always forgetting that thing.

Our next stop was the Palace of Fine Arts, yet another park surrounded by beautiful buildings and homes. The small parking lot was a nightmare filled with impatient people and folks who were just oblivious to the world around them.

After a quick walk around the Palace we drove to the other side of the Presidio so we could visit Fort Point. We had to dodge and be mindful of 100's of oblivious cyclists taking advantage of the long bike path and challenging hills. The only thing we knew about Fort Point before visiting was that it was used as inspiration for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The fort was built during the Civil War to guard the bay. When they were building the Golden Gate Bridge they thought they'd have to tear it down but then someone figured out how to tweak the designs to build over the fort. The hassle of navigating through the masses was worth it for the views of the city, bay, and bridge. The fort itself is an added bonus.

Finally it was time for lunch. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed into Sausalito for lunch. Our chosen spot, Fish, was located in a marina north of downtown. There was a long line to order at the counter and limited seating. We split up so Dave could stalk tables while Holly ordered. There were some decent local beers on tap that went well with our fish & chips and crab legs. After lunch we ventured into crowded downtown. While pretty, it was just another tourist trap city. They took easy advantage of the folks that arrived into town via ferry from San Francisco. Sidewalks were too narrow to accommodate the crowds. After browsing a few shops we headed out of town to our next destination.

We heard Muir Woods would be crowded so we thought the strategy of hitting it late in the afternoon would work. When we arrived all parking lots were full. Cars lined the road for miles. We drove about 2-3 miles away from the park entrance before deciding to turn around. As luck would have it we arrived at one of the lots while a car was leaving. The attendant let us in. Score! One of the reasons the park was so crowded was a rare free admission day. So much for actually remembering the National Park pass. With limited time we kept our visit to the main path and the elevated path on our way back out. It was worth the trip and the parking hassle.


After an hour-long drive back into town we decided it was time to relax with a drink. Dave found Barbarossa Lounge via Map App near our hotel. It was a nice craft beer/cocktail lounge that apparently is deserted until later in the evening. We had the place to ourselves (which we consider a good thing) and got to relax. The bartender chatted with us for a bit and gave us a few local tips.

One of the reasons we picked our hotel location was proximity to Chinatown for dining options. We made reservations via OpenTable at Begoni Bistro. Their website was nice and they actually had beer beyond Asian styles and Miller. When we arrived at 8:00 it was empty, but filled up soon enough. It ended up being one of the best Chinese food meals we have had. We chose simple entrees like General's Chicken and Shrimp Pan Fried Noodles - they were just fantastic. Maybe we should visit Chicago's Chinatown someday.

Even though the North Beach nightlife was close-by we decided to call it a night after dinner. We had successfully over-programmed ourselves and the next day was likely going to be the same.

Here's the map of the area with circles around what we covered:

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