For the last part of our honeymoon we decided to spend a little time in the big city – San Francisco! We had reservations for a high room in the Union Square area with a balcony and views of the city.
We had spent the past 3 days in Big Sur (2-5 July). We got married in Pacific Grove on the 3rd of July and spent the rest of the day hanging out in Pebble Beach and Carmel. On the 4th of July we went on a couple hikes in Big Sur, and drove California Highway 1 on the spectacular Big Sur coast. But now we were ready for a change of pace.
We left Big Sur early on 5 July so that we could arrive early and have at least an extra afternoon in San Francisco. We did stay along the coast on the way and stopped to check out the Pigeon Point lighthouse about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay. The lighthouse is in decaying condition and has cables that hold it upright. However, the views of lighthouse and the surrounding area are terrific. We decided to stop in downtown Half Moon Bay for lunch and had a couple of terrific sandwiches at the Garden Deli Cafe in the San Benito House historic inn. There is a nice little garden area beside the hotel, so we took a seat at a table and enjoyed our lunch. Half Moon Bay looks like a great place to spend a couple of days.
The drive, with traffic, was a little longer than we expected and we arrived around mid-afternoon. After getting settled in we headed out to check on bike rental places by Fisherman’s Wharf. A search of “Things to do in San Francisco blogs” had produced several blogs that highly recommended biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and riding the ferry back from Sausalito. After a quick check with the Hotel Concierge to get directions to the nearest public transportation and the Ferry Schedule, we headed out with at least a little hope of taking a bike ride.
Unfortunately a bike ride wasn’t going to happen on this trip. We were already running late, then the San Francisco public transit let us down. From our location in Union Square the transit ticket booth recommended a F-Line Trolley car as the fastest way to Fisherman’s Wharf. They were probably right on most days, but on this day it would be over 30 minutes before the first overcrowded, barely able to get on, not even going all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf trolley car would arrive.
Trolleys heading in the other direction toward Castro passed us every 5-6 minutes. The line of people waiting to get on grew, and we were concerned we would not even get a spot on the next car. Some how we squeezed on, but it was tight, uncomfortable, the ride was jerky, and the conductor kept talking and laughing at his own jokes. The speakers were not very good so I could only understand one word out of five. It may not sound like it but I’m glad we decided to ride on the trolley and I’ll do it again. There was an interesting plaque on the inside wall of the car. It gave a history of the style of car we were riding on. It also said that the trolley car we rode in was painted with a San Diego exterior paint design. I had seen a San Francisco Railway Museum on the attractions list but it hadn’t interested me. After seeing the variety of paint designs, and reading some of the history of trolley cars, I will add this and the Cable Car Museum to a list of things to do next time.
Even before we arrived at the bike rental stand we had decided it would be more of a fact finding quest. The guy at the desk agreed, it was too late to head toward Sausalito with plans to ride the ferry back. We’ll add riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge to the bucket list and make it happen next time. Luckily we had plenty of other things on our list. We decided to get a bite to eat near Fisherman’s Wharf and then see some of the other sights on our list.
The start of the Powell-Hyde cable car line was very close to Fisherman’s Wharf on Hyde Street and we knew the other end of the route was near our hotel, so we decided to try that out next. It was a very busy/crowded day in San Francisco and the lines for the cable car were extremely long. Waiting an hour or more to get on the cable car didn’t sound good so we decided to move to the next thing on the list, the “crooked” section of Lombard Street. This is where our luck finally started to change, of course first we had to hike up a very steep Hyde Street toward Russian Hill. It is only 5 blocks from the start of the cable car line to Lombard Street along Hyde Street, but is is one of the steepest 5 blocks you’ll find anywhere. We watched a couple of completely full cable cars pass us by on the way up. If the lines were not so long, the Cable car would definitely be the way to get up this hill. When we got to the top we decided to walk down Lombard Street. The views of Lombard Street from the top are not as impressive/classic as the ones from below, so back down we went.
We had not given up on riding a cable car so we walked back up Lombard Street to the cable car stop. There were only a couple people waiting there and we figured that there would be at least a few people getting off each cable car to check out Lombard Street. We were able to get a couple spots on the next cable car that came along. I definitely recommend the top of Lombard Street as a good place to catch the cable car. The cable cars are crowded, so stand on the running board instead of sitting if you can. If you sit someone can and probably will stand in front of you which will spoil the view of the city. Keep your hands in the car, there will be temptations to point, but the cars from the other direction come up fast and close! My wife pointed at a bad time and only a quick warning from the Gripman on our car saved her from getting hurt. He followed up with a dirty look but we were grateful for the timely reminder/warning.
Once we got back to the Hotel we decided to drive out to the Golden Gate Bridge, and cross over to Sausalito for dinner. The sun was setting by the time we got to the bridge and I was worried that we wouldn’t get good color in the pictures because of the lighting. My new camera’s low light capability came through again and we got a few really nice pictures of the bridge and of us.
Sausalito is a cute little town at the first exit on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a lot of options for shopping and food, but it also closes down early. We were down to one option by the time we got there, but enjoyed the meal and walking along the bay. I took an interesting picture of the moon rising above San Francisco after dinner before we headed back for the night.
On the 6th of July we had a sailing tour of San Francisco Bay planned for the early afternoon. This gave us time to sleep in… it was a honeymoon after all. We decided to drive to The Presidio, and after wandering around for a while we parked by Crissy Field. My favorite picture from the Crissy Field area was at the Lita Vietor View point. Lita Vietor was the wife of John Vietor, an heir to the Jell-O fortune and founder of the San Diego Magazine. The Golden Gate Bridge is “in the clouds”, but I love this picture.
We left our car parked at Crissy Field and took public transportation back to Pier 39 for our Sailing tour. We sailed with the San Francisco Sailing Company and thanks to Groupon we got a great deal. The Captain and crew were friendly and it was the most fun that we had during our time in San Francisco. I sail small boats in San Diego harbor, but this was a whole different thing. The Captain said it best… “an average day in San Francisco Bay would be considered a raging storm in San Diego.” I don’t think he was exaggerating. Although it was over 70 on the pier, the jackets were essential on the sail boat. Although my camera’s battery died early into the trip I got some great shots on the way out past Alcatraz.
After the sailing trip it was time to make our way back to the car, by way of “that cool dome that was in Bicentennial Man, you know the park where Sean Connery meets his daughter in The Rock”. Well I didn’t really know, but my wife did and this place was at the top of her list. I was clueless, I had seen both movies, but didn’t remember seeing this place. She was right it is a very cool place, the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition. The paths around the reflecting pool are a great place for a walk. The park is well laid out to have a picnic with a veiw, and the dome in the center of the structure defies description. I’ll just say that the dome is so much bigger than it looks in pictures. The scale of this place is over the top huge, built to impress. It succeeded!
We had dinner that evening with family at the beach. It was a relaxed place and we had a great time. Travel and bucket list stuff is good fun, but family and friends are what life is all about. The next morning we got up and headed back home on Interstate 5, a long hot drive, but it was the fastest route. A few things were different when we got back… we had a lot of great memories, several hundred pictures to sort through, and we were married!
Here are a few more of my favorite pictures from San Francisco:
Finally, not the “best” picture, but I love it:
If you get a chance check out the two earlier posts for this trip: