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Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

Berea, Ohio
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1,439 posts
75 reviews
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Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

PART 1

The staff at Bohème is super. Charles, working the front desk Monday a.m., steered us to a North Beach tradition, Curley’s at 1624 Powell, for breakfast and suggested a route to walk to pick up our rental car. (Later he graciously hauled my suitcase down the stairs.)

While it’s true that we didn’t go to Alcatraz, eat a hot fudge sundae at Ghiradelli Square or even ride a cable car, those were our personal choices for our 48 hours in SF, but to miss Chinatown, the second-largest Chinese community in the western hemisphere, especially when it was adjacent to where we were staying, would have been a shame. Grant Ave. is the main tourist street with its colorful facades and red lanterns and jammed with shops carrying all kinds of Chinese merchandise, and I was absolutely captivated by the window display at Old Shanghai. Inside I was drawn to the purses made of silk and chose a black evening bag and a bronzed green messenger bag. Hip elegance! Then I ventured up the stairs to see the women’s clothing and was shown an exquisitely made silk jacket, more expensive than anything I’d ever bought to wear but also something I expect that I’ll love wearing the rest of my life.

At Union Square we stepped into Williams-Sonoma, an ultra-grand three-storied version of ours back in Ohio. Giada from the Food Network was to appear that day at noon to sign her new book, and 450 tickets had been distributed, so that one could stand in line (and there were already hundreds in an impressive line running down the staircases and out the door before 10:30!) for that privilege. Quite a shopping culture here and a strong and innovative entrepreneurial spirit with a diverse array of small specialty shops in addition to the mercantile behemoths. I bought a sunblocking hat on sale at a little shop of Australian goods while Allen occupied himself on the sidewalk trying to acquire a signal for the GPS unit we’d brought from home to use in our rental car.

We were to pick up a Sebring convertible at Alamo on Bush St. at noon and found a sizeable line of folks there for that purpose, too. Surprisingly a staff member took us out the end of line after asking if we had a reservation and if we had an out-of-state driver’s license and directed us into the garage. Before long we were on our way, top down, in a white Sebring, back to Bohème for our bags.

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1. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

Sounds fun, your silk jacket sounds really pretty, I love shopping in San Francisco! :)

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San Francisco
San Francisco
California
Berea, Ohio
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1,439 posts
75 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

What's your favorite shopping spot in SF, syrahgirl?

PART 2

Though sadly we were leaving SF with much left unseen, we made one final quick stop -- the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. I have a shot of Allen with the quirky monkey puzzle tree, but I would have liked to explore this glorious haven more.

On to coastal Highway 1 and cliff’s edge driving with roadside views of the Pacific crashing below. I don’t have the confidence to tackle this, but Allen, who’s also worked as a professional trucker, was in his element (and absolutely gleeful later in the week driving the Big Sur coastline). We pulled over several times, so that he could appreciate the stunning views and then stopped about 30 miles south of SF in Half Moon Bay where historic Main St. is a quaint stretch of shops, galleries and a few restaurants. The big event of the year, the Pumpkin Festival, had happened over the weekend, and the sign in one store window read -- "Closed today due to post festival exhaustion". We ate a late lunch on the patio at Chez Shea, which features international organic cuisine – chile rellenos for Allen and three mini-tacos with cubes of pork shoulder, grilled pineapple chunks and fresh salsa for me.

The highway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz runs between acres of farmland (strawberries, Brussels sprouts, artichokes and, of course, pumpkins) and the ocean, and this interested Allen as he grew up on a farm in Northwest Ohio and as a young adult raised corn and soybeans. We pulled into Año Nuevo State Park in hopes of seeing the colony of elephant seals; a sign indicated the rookery area was closed and I’m still pondering the other sign –“Be careful of endangered snakes”. Our last two pull-offs before Santa Cruz were to behold those daring souls in wetsuits who were windsurfing and kiteboarding.

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Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
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Berea, Ohio
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3. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

PART 3

The newly renovated 10-story Dream Inn located on Cowell Beach was our destination as we swapped boho-chic for retro-sleek. The décor incorporated the essence of Santa Cruz, long known for its surfing and amusement park / beach boardwalk. Orange, brown and lime color scheme, midcentury modern furniture, striped carpet, five-foot paisley tube pillow…groovy! Our room (about $218 total) had a king bed, glassed-in shower, iPod docking station and large flat screen TV and a private balcony with views of the Monterey Bay and the old-time municipal wharf. Likely we’d be lulled to sleep by the sounds of ocean waves and yelping sea lions. In booking the five accomodations for our seven nights in CA, I’d intentionally switched it up some. That’s part of the fun of vacation for us.

We ambled to the end of the wharf, where a colony of sea lions haul out to sleep and sun, and settled on Stagnaro's Bros. there for dinner after a local exiting the restaurant delivered his enthusiastic recommendation, particularly urging us to take advantage of the Monday special of $10.95 for a large bowl of cioppino (stew made of several kinds of fish and shellfish, tomatoes, and white wine) which we’d never tasted. Before dinner as we’d sat on the west side of the wharf to contemplate the sunset, we’d met another 60-something man from Mariposa, and discovered he had a connection (His dad was an alumnus) to Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea where I work. Another memorable day, and by 9:30 we were ready to cue the Pacific and sea lions for our lullaby.

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Berea, Ohio
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75 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

Thanks so much to Puter, TA's Santa Cruz expert, for suggesting the Dream Inn. It was a hit with us, and I'll post a full review under "Hotels" after I finish this daily trip report.

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Santa Cruz
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Dream Inn
Dream Inn
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5. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

I love all the shops around Union Square, sounds like you had a great time in Santa Cruz, thanks for the fun reports! :)

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6. Re: Trip Report / Day 3 -- SF/Monterey Bay Area First-Timers

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