Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sightseeing in San Francisco

We headed into San Francisco again today. I drove as far as San Bruno, and from there we took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) to Powell, which brings you out right in the centre of the shopping area, just down from Union Square.

After a bit of window shopping, we headed to the famous Sears Restaurant on Powell Street for lunch. Since 1938, Sears has been a landmark restaurant in San Francisco, and their silver dollar pancakes are famous. We always enjoy eating there - I love their traditional Reuben sandwich. It’s like stepping back in time to the lunch counters of the past. You can sit up at the counter itself, or at one of the tables scattered around the restaurant. The food which is served on old china plates is simple and delicious.

Suitably refreshed, we hopped on a cable car and purchased a day pass. It’s tempting to get on the cable cars at the Powell/Market turntable but you have to queue there. If you go a few streets up or over, it’s easier to just hop on. You can buy tickets actually on the trolley - although it can be quite a hairy experience trying to get your money out if you are standing on the running board as I was, hanging on for dear life. (Luckily the conductors are patient!) The view is better if you can stand up on the running board, but you need strong arms and a good sense of balance. It is a lot of fun though if you can manage it. We decided to see if we could find Coit Tower, which is supposed to be one of the best vantage points in San Francisco. One of the taxi drivers we met on Sunday said it was well worth a visit.

After a fun trolley ride and a very long climb up a seriously steep hill - and then more climbing up steps - we found it at the top of Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park. Sadly the elevator and the steps to the top of the tower were closed today, but we still had a fabulous view from the park at the bottom of the tower. (And frankly after all that climbing I felt like I was high enough!) Coit Tower was built with a bequest left by one of San Francisco’s most colourful residents, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left funds to beautify the city she loved. It is a beautiful tower; the inside is painted with amazing murals and the outside is a lovely cream concrete. (You can see it in the photo above which was taken by my son.) The views all round are stunning - you can see right out to Alcatraz and all over the city.

Once again we had to get back early so my son could study for his GCSE’s, so we reluctantly descended and hopped back on another cable car, riding it right back down to the turntable. From there it was back on to the BART, and back to the hotel.

We have another nice meal planned tonight, at Alexander’s Steak House just down the road from us. Last night’s excursion to Benihana was really good fun, although I must admit I had serious indigestion afterwards. The food is delicious, and cooked freshly at the table in front of you, but there are some serious spices in some of it and I think they got me! It is a great experience though and we had a super time.

I’m absolutely dreading Friday arriving - I don’t want to go home. I’ have to count my blessings though, at least I don’t have to write exams when I get there!

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