First off, let me say that the TA community was amazingly helpful in planning this trip, so a hearty "thank you" to you all! This report is for our San Francisco/Wine Country trip from April 8th-17th, 2013. Yes, nearly 5 months later, I'm finally getting around to this...
DAY 1: We flew into San Francisco on Monday, April 8th, late afternoon. All went well with our Delta flights, and we actually arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Before leaving the airport, we purchased our 7-day MUNI Passports, which were so very worth the money. We hopped on BART into the city, getting off at Powell. We hauled our luggage the approximately 6 blocks uphill to the Chancellor Hotel (yes, I dragged the big suitcase!). Great location, and the room, while small, was just right for what we needed.Being from a small, quiet town, I loved hearing the noise of the city through the open window. After freshening up a bit, we walked over to The View for a drink. Great view, but we found the decor pretty blah and too "suburban Marriott". We ended up sharing an order of fish tacos (ok, but nothing special), and the service was awful. Headed back to the hotel to crash, as we wanted to get on the road relatively early the next morning to head to Napa.
DAY 2: We were supposed to call City Rent-a-Car a short time before we wanted to be picked up to get our car. We called, and I swear the driver was at the hotel within 5 minutes--impressive! We had a brief moment of panic as she drove us over to the office, when she stated that she was driving the car we were getting. Um, no. The rental car was the one thing my husband was very specific about, and we had not rented a compact Toyota. Turned out she was just mistaken, and we left the garage with the shiny red Mini Cooper S we had reserved. This was one of the splurges of the trip, as we could have rented a generic car for less than half the price, but my husband decided that if he was going to drive Highway 1, he was going to have a blast doing it. :)
(I will post the Napa portion of our trip on that forum)
DAY 5 (Friday): We had spent the night the the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach. What a great hidden gem! While the room was VERY small (and the shower even smaller), the atmosphere of the place was so cool. We enjoyed a classic English breakfast by the fire before heading out to explore Muir Woods. While we hadn't intended on a long hike, thankfully we had dressed for one. We ended up hiking the Lost Trail/Ocean View Trail, which took around 2 hours round-trip, with quite a climb and countless stairs. The hike was SO worth the beautiful views at the top! It was also nice to get off the more heavily-traveled path and enjoy some peace and quiet in the woods. Once we finished the hike, we drove to Sausalito for lunch. I can't remember where we ate, but it was a tiny Indian/Mexican (I think) fusion place. The food was amazing, and totally unexpected. After lunch we headed back into SF. We dropped the car off at City Rent-a-Car in the afternoon, and they gave us a quick ride back to the hotel. After cleaning up, we hopped on a bus to Fort Mason Center for the Off the Grid Food Truck meet-up. I LOVED this! We ended up waiting in line forever for food from Koja, and had some sort of Korean BBQ sandwich and Kimchi fries that were just outstanding. We wandered with our food over to the water, where it was FREEZING, and caught a beautiful sunset while eating. We grabbed some creme brulee for dessert, then headed back to the hotel for the night relatively early, as it had been an exhausting day.
DAY 6 (Saturday): It was a beautiful morning (actually, we had perfect weather the entire trip), and we were up early to head to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. We took the streetcar over. Waited in line for a ridiculous amount of time for some Blue Bottle Coffee...SO worth it! Enjoyed our coffee and breakfast sandwich out by the water for awhile, before getting on a bus. The plan was to find the Filbert Steps. Well, we ended up getting off at the wrong stop, but still managed to find the steps. Made our way all the way to the top (what a workout!!) to Coit Tower. We decided not to go up in the tower. Funny story--while there, I needed to use the restroom. There is an outdoor restroom thing...that darn thing got the best of me! It was very confusing to figure out (or maybe I just could have read the instructions posted outside). I kept walking in when the door opened, but then it would close and open right away again. Apparently it needs to go through a cleaning cycle between uses...who knew?! Some lovely Japanese lady tried to explain it to me in very broken English. My husband found this hilarious.
Anwyway, we walked back down the other side of Coit Tower, into North Beach. We found a friendly local who pointed out which way to go and made some suggestions of where to get some lunch. We ended up at Tony's for pizza and a few Anchor beers. The pizza was great, and the place had a great atmosphere. Afterwards we kept walking, and grabbed a cannolli at a little bakery around the corner before walking over to Lombard Street. We walked up the hill and caught a cable car back to the hotel to take a break.
We had tickets for the night tour of Alcatraz, so we later took a bus down for that. The boat ride over was wonderful, though it was nearly impossible to hear the guide's story over the speakers. We really enjoyed the tour, and the views of SF at night from the island were stunning. My husband was too tired to stay for the portion of the tour where they lock you in the cells, so we skipped that and headed back on the first boat. We were too worn out from the long day to go anywhere for dinner, so we just grabbed sandwiches at the Starbuck's around the corner from the hotel on our way back.
Time for bed. Part 2 will have to wait until tomorrow.