Tuesday, July 26, 2011

San Francisco touring

The one thing you cannot do as a tourist in San Francisco is avoid tours.  Well, you could, but then you'd miss half of the fun.
One of the places I wanted to see was the Rock.  Yes, Alcatraz.  Tickets were sold out for the next week, so there was no hope of me hopping on a tour to the infamous prison.  However, I was able to catch a bay cruise that motored me around the island and then on to other highlights in the bay.
The boat meandered under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was shyly hiding behind fog.  I have one thing to say about the bridge:  it's huge!  I find it interesting that it's so iconic of San Francisco that it is constantly being painted to keep it beautiful (and because it needs it with the salty sea air).

After walking back onto solid land, hunger descended upon me.  Hillstone, a restaurant just across the street from pier 33, looked pretty appetizing.  Of course, in order to get to the restaurant, you have to walk a block to a stoplight, then cross the street and walk back.  But it was worth it.

Hillstone was probably the best food in my entire San Francisco journey.  I got nervous approaching the door that exclaimed "proper attire required."  Does that mean dressy?  Who knows.  They let us in.  Waitstaff decked head to toe in black, and a too-happy hostess attempting a 70s look fit in with the dark wooden decor.

Being next to the water, many of the menu items were seafood.  I settled on a Chicken and Friends Sandwich.  (Not seafood)  It had chicken, it had ham, it had avocado.  Sold!  I didn't know it until my first bite, but it  had a house bbq sauce as well.  Scrumptious!  If you're in San Francisco, eat there.  Eat that.

Service was prompt, the food was delectable... though I think the waitress was in training.  When asked to repeat something or questioned about the one of the items she listed off, it was a blank stare for about 30 seconds before a very hesitant response.
The famous "Painted Ladies"
Moving along, after lunch was another walk along the piers to look for San Francisco bus tours.  An Australian teenager sold us on a hop-on hop-off bus tour.  We stayed on the bus through most of the route, given the hour (hopped on at 4:30 and most places closed around 5).  We saw the Painted Ladies (very cool), dropped off some Germans to "shop" on Haight and Ashbury, cruised by city hall with it's beautiful dome...

Did you know that George Lucas rents out a building on the Palacidio for $5 million a month?  Or that there's a Disney museum?

The one area I wanted to see was Golden Gate Park with the Modern Arts Museum, flower conservatory, and Japanese Tea Gardens.  Alas, it was too late on Friday...I consoled myself with the thought that maybe on Saturday we could go with the bbf (and pass on Ghirardelli Square?  I don't think so).

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