Tuesday, August 5, 2008

San Francisco, Day 2 and 3: Tourist Spots and (ouch!) Those Steep Hills…

Got an early start and walked toward Fisherman’s Wharf, about a mile away from our hotel. Walked across a nearby park which overlooked docked boats, the Bay, and Alcatraz. Older Oriental men did Tai Chi throughout the park, their fluid movements barely affecting the morning dew under their feet. People jogged, walked their dogs, and biked along the trails.

Fisherman’s Wharf was quite touristy, as we’d been warned. Still, San Francisco was a gorgeous city with several tourist activities to choose from. Below is my summary and opinion of the ones we did:

* Ghirardelli Square. Cute spot and free chocolate samples. What could be better?

* Taking the Cable Car throughout the city. While a good way to see the city and hop on/hop off where we wanted, it was overcrowded and took almost an hour to buy tickets and get onto one.

* Boat tour under the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. This was one of my favorite tours; I’d recommend this to anyone wanting to get good photos of the Golden Gate. One note: it gets COLD out on the Bay. Mark Twain was reported as saying his coldest winter he ever spent was summer in San Francisco. He’s right.

* Trolley tour through the city and going across the Golden Gate. Another favorite. It’s 2 hours and takes you around Pacific Heights, through the main city highlights, across the Golden Gate (which offers amazing views of the Bay and the skyline), plus little tidbit spots such as where Robin Williams lives and the location of the “Mrs. Doubtfire” house they used for the movie.

* Seeing Chinatown. This situation proved interesting, perhaps because of the one spot we happened to select. Two drinks and a small order of egg rolls cost $20. Right when I was ready to ask for a cost breakdown, the owner got into a shouting match with one of the customers, presumably over pricing. At one point I thought I saw him go get a knife. We hastily paid our check and got the heck out of there.

* Touring some of the local ships/boats docked along Fisherman’s Wharf. While interesting, I must say that this experience will help my writing. One of the ships had a rickety ladder going up to the door. It reminded me of the swaying rope ladders between 2 cliffs in the movies, where the actress typically slips through and the hero saves her. Walking up this set of stairs felt the same way, so now I can use that for any rickety-bridge scenes which may appear.

* One other note about San Fran: The hills are STEEP. At one point, we figured getting off the Cable Car next to the street our hotel was on would be easier than returning to our original departure point. Saying that somewhere is “only 6 blocks” means something different in San Francisco versus Baltimore. Some of those city blocks are at a 45-55 degree angle of STEEP. Found that one out the hard way, and learned that Advil can be a person’s best friend!

Stay tuned for writer’s conference blogs and cool entertainment!


Willena said...

Although I have lost touch with her now, I once had a friend that grew up in the San Francisco suburbs. She could never be convinced that SF was/IS one of the world's greatest cities. I'm glad you were able to find out why.

What was the name of the hotel where you stayed?

The Writers Canvas said...

The first hotel was a basic one called "The Coventry Inn" on Lombard Street. It's 3 blocks (easy walking ones!) from Union Street, whose cafes/shops/restaurants remind me of the Woodley Park area of Wash DC. Hotel was nothing fancy but was in a great neighborhood.

For the conference, I stayed at the downtown Marriott at 4th Street and Mission.