Our last day proved to be a glorious one. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!
We foolishly thought we could get tickets to Alcatraz that morning. It was Thursday, and the next available tix were Sunday. Doh! Actually, I had thought to buy them in advance, but as we couldn’t decide exactly when we wanted to go, I never did make the purchase. We’ll know better next time. At least it was a lovely day for our walk along the piers. Alcatraz being scrapped meant “plan B” kicked into gear, which was a harbor cruise. The forty-five minute ride took us down the bay, past Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and back around the other side of Alcatraz. At least we got views of both Alcatraz and the bridge that we hadn’t seen before.
After our cruise we began our forced march of San Francisco. I’m not exaggerating here. I have no idea of how many miles we covered in this single day, but it was a lot! From Fisherman’s Wharf, we walked down to Fort Mason. The weather was so beautiful we found ourselves wishing we’d rented a bike. Earlier in our travels, we’d seen the signs for the bike tours over the Golden Gate bridge and had mocked them. I had visions of trying to fight San Francisco traffic on a bike…no thank you! Instead we found an extensive network of bike paths that clamored to be pedaled on. Oh well something else for the “next time” list.
We meandered back from Fort Mason, past Ghirardelli Square to In-N-Out Burger. DH had spotted the iconic sign our first night in the city and knew that we had to have lunch there. We decided that the name should be changed to In-and-stand-around-and-wait-a-long-time-and out-Burger…but that probably wouldn’t fit on the sign. 🙂 We managed to find a table outside that wasn’t covered in pigeon poo and enjoyed our cheeseburger feast. After carbo-loading on starchy fries (In-N-Out cuts their potatoes fresh, but doesn’t give them a soak to rinse off the starch which leaves them a bit “gummy”when they come out of the fryer) we decided to walk up Hyde St to Lombard St.
We’d walked past Hyde Street and knew that it was steep. It wasn’t until we began our hike that we realized it was mountain climbing steep! OMG! Thankfully there were a few opportunities to wait for lights to change giving us a chance to catch our breath. Phew! Now I understood why so many people took the trolley to the top of the hill! I felt like we deserved some sort of a certificate for climbing to the top!
Surely we’d burned off our lunch and arrived at the top of the “crookedest street in the world”, Lombard. I had experienced the street during a brief visit to San Francisco as a teen and thought it the best thing ever! It didn’t disappoint this adult as we walked down the stairs that ran parallel to the street, while ogling the cars that were making the descent. That is one street I would definitely not want to live on!! Way too much traffic and way too little parking!
At this point, we pulled out the trusty map and decided to walk to Coit Tower. It was a straight shot up Lombard Street, so why not? Wow. More hills. How many hills does this city have? The only city I’ve seen that comes close is Seattle, but I think San Francisco wins the battle of the hills!
The view from the base of the tower was wonderful. Frankly I’d skip going to the top of the tower. $5 each meant standing in a very long line to board an antique (read “tiny”) elevator. At the top you’ll want to spend maybe 5 minutes admiring the view before standing in another long line to go down the same, small, elevator. Save yourself the $10.
From here we decided to head to Pier 39. We went the wrong way, but discovered a tree full of parrots, so that was a nice misadventure! (I thought it was parakeets that were talking over San Francisco?) Once at Pier 39 we wandered around before deciding to stop in at Bubba Gump Shrimp (so touristy, but I just had to!). We got a nice bucket of peel n’eat shrimp and a couple of beers to wash them down. Perfect! As I watched the (I’m assuming) neverending loop of the movie, Forrest Gump being played, I wondered how the employees tolerated it! We walked from Pier 39 to Pier 41 and realized that we’d missed the Sea Lions basking in the sun back on Pier 39, so back we went. I know that we didn’t see a lot of what people recommend in the city…Nob Hill, Chinatown, etc. But we had a wonderful time just roaming around.
We popped into a bar for a happy hour beer and a few minutes of jazz. Ended up back at the Irish bar we’d found our first night for a final pint of Fat Tire and caught a little of the Boston Bruins defeating the Montreal Canadians in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (as I type this a month later, the Bruins are still in it and one win away from the finals!).
Finally we had to make our way back to the hotel. We had wine to consume, and (sigh) packing to do. Believe it our not we grabbed In-N-Out Burgers again for dinner (it was easy and cheap after our not-so-cheap shrimp snacks earlier). After arranging with the hotel bellhops for a taxi to pick us up in the morning, there was nothing left to do but have those last few vacation cocktails and finish packing.
It had been a glorious vacation, but after two and a half weeks away, we were looking forward to going home. Our own bed beckoned and it would be so nice to stop living out of suitcases! (Even if clearing out those suitcases meant 4 loads of laundry to be done!)
To stave off post-cruise/vacation depression, I always have the next adventure ready to go. Now that Hawaii and San Francisco and Sonoma are in my review mirror, it’s time to look ahead to our Panama Canal cruise! Seven stops (eight if you include San Pedro, CA, where the ship sails from) will keep me busy with research and planning! Yay!