Saturday, January 06, 2007

San Francisco Trip

It seemed like a great idea at the time, but things have a tendency to go awry when it involves me. I wanted to see the New Year fireworks from a spectacular place, and Las Vegas was out of the questions because it gets too crowded to walk and I get claustrophobic, so San Francisco was the next best thing - I had hoped to see the fireworks framed by the Golden Gate bridge. I made all the plans, invited a friend to come at the last minute and got sick about 3 days before leaving. My first error was to assume that I would get better in time for the trip - in fact, I didn't get better until a day before coming back from SF. My second mistake was to assume that because it's warm and sunny in Arizona, it would be so everywhere else - no, in fact, it's Winter everywhere else and I realized it fully during this trip. My third mistake was to invite someone along - as bad as I was feeling, it would have been better to be alone than to pretend to be feeling fine for the sake of a companion who is not sympathetic to your plight. This is all I'm going to say about the bad aspects of this trip, from this moment on I'll share only the good ones.

Fisherman's Wharf - the main touristy area in SF, by the bay area. Whether you like seafood or not, it's the place to go. The small shops, the small restaurants, which I found surprisingly affordable for SF. The place makes you forget you're a visitor and don't really have a house in town to bring all the stuff you want to buy.......everything to please any gourmet! I was having a lot of fun going to all these litte shops, as sick as I was feeling. The smell of the ocean, the food - I'm allergic to seafood/shell fish, but boy, was I tempted to eat the crabs, the shrimp, the clam chowder.....all looked so yummy!!

And then, there's the well known spots: Ghirardelli's, where you must have a sundae or hot chocolate, you simply must!! Forget about buying the chocolate, they sell that all over America. Just go into the restaurant and have a Sundae! A great experience, but be prepared to wait in line - very crowded place. And of course, we must mention the Buena Vista cafe - affordable food and famous for it's Irish Coffee and seating family style. By that I don't mean that you sit and share with your family, but that you sit wherever there's an empty spot and share your table with total strangers who become friends by the end of the meal. I must say that SF has one of the friendliest people I have ever met! Everybody so nice and helpful, quite a pleasure. I of course, had 3 of the infamous irish coffees before stopping because I knew I wouldn't be able to walk to the bus - a must for anybody visiting SF!!
I must stop briefly to speak of SF's transportation - you really don't need to rent a car since transportation is readily available, affordable and the city is easy to navigate. All you need is a pass for whatever days you're in town, it will grant you access to all forms of transportation except Taxis. We bought a 3-day pass for $18 dollars and didn't need to bother with looking for exact change for buses and such, great idea. You should also get the SF Go Card, a great value for your money. It will grant you free access to most of what SF has to offer, and you'll get more that what you paid for with just a couple of uses.

On our second day there we went on a wine country tour through Sedona and Napa, included in the SF Go Card we had purchase. This was a 9 hour trip, visiting 3 wineries and learning about wine tasting, which I new nothing about. I learned that I definitely don't like red wine, dry wine, and absolutely love sweet wine which I was delighted to find out indeed existed - Riesling from Madonna Estates being one of my favorites. On our way there we stopped a this cute country store to buy snacks to fill our stomachs before tasting wine so early in the morning, and I fell in love with everything they offered - Garlic Artichoke Tapenades, Lemon Olive Oils, things I cannot find here in AZ, I was in heaven! Definitely a place to visit whenever visiting SF, or even if you live in the area.

On our third day, New Year day, we had to decide where to go in order to see the fireworks - the main purpose of this trip. My friend decided it would be nice to get on a boat to better see the fireworks, since they would be shown from the Bay Bridge as opposed to the Golden Gate. Although I new the fireworks would be just as visible from the pier, I agreed to this crazy idea - and a crazy idea it proved to be for Arizonans to be in the middle of the bay at midnight with only a jacket for protection, because you see, it's WINTER! Did I enjoy the fireworks? Don't remember, I was too busy trying to keep warm and trying to figure out how to work my new digital camera so it would capture nice shots - which didn't work, as show by the only picture I'm willing to post, the best of the lot. A word to the wise, if you ever go to SF to see the fireworks, do fall for one of those short trips on a boat to see them up close, because it's not the same as going on a big one, you end up on a dingy with questionable company and after the fireworks are over - around 12:15 am, you're still stuck in the middle of the ocean freezing and wishing you could swim over to shore. A miserable experience in fact. When I got back to the hotel around 2 am, my body was radiating cold as opposed to heat. This must be about the time I caught that cold which I brought with me to AZ.
All in all, it was a good trip, one which I must repeat my myself when I'm not sick.

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