Monday, July 18, 2011

Retirement Trip to San Francisco

My daughters set up this blog for me so that I can share my travels with family and friends.  And what a fantastic trip to start this new chapter of my life!  Three friends and I left on June 28, 2011 for a five day trip to San Francisco.  It was five days of beautiful sights and non-stop conversations.

The weather tried to put a damper on our first day of the trip.  It rained all day.  The beautiful San Francisco Bay was gray and dreary.  So our first stop after checking into the Holiday Inn Express in the Fisherman's Wharf was to purchase umbrellas. 

Then we headed off to find some lunch.  We picked the best place to have our first meal.  Boudin Sourdough Bakery had great food, a really nice gift shop, and even a tour of the bakery.  We tried out the chowder and bisque in a sourdough bread bowl which was delicious. 

Boudin Sourdough Bakery

We wandered around Fisherman's Wharf for a while in the rain and decided to try out one of the electric trolley cars thinking it would be better to look around town out of the rain.  Turned out this trolley car (The F line) quickly left the Fisherman's Wharf area and headed into the city.  We had no idea where we were so we stayed on the trolley until they made us get off and return on a different trolley.  We got to see a little of all parts of the city which was fine for a rainy day, but I was a little concerned where we would end up. Not really wise to get on public transportation without a clue where it is going!

An hour and a half later we were able to get off at Pier 39 with great relief.  It was still raining but we just opened up the umbrellas and did a little shopping and shared a  huge strawberry crepe at the Crepe Cafe. 

We next took a taxi to Ghirardelli Square which is at the opposite end of Fisherman's Wharf to shop and sample some candy (delicious!)  We made plans to come back another day to have hot fudge sundaes at the ice cream shop of Ghirardelli's because it was just that good. 

Then back to the hotel. We should have been tired because we had been up since before 4:00 a.m. to catch the plane.  But we were still pretty wound up as we got out the Ipad to help us make plans for the next day.

The weather was better on the second day.  Still cloudy but no rain.  Hooray!

Powell-Market Cable Car
We were the first people on the Powell-Market Cable Car and we took that to be a good sign for the rest of the day. The sights were amazing and we had a very entertaining driver.  The hilly streets make you feel like you are on a slow roller coaster. 

We got off at the end of the line at the Nordstrom Mall.  The eight floors of escalators with a huge skylight at the top was a beautiful entrance to a mall.  We didn't shop much since we were ready to see more of San Francisco.

After about a 30 minutes wait we got on the Powell-Hyde Cable Car to take us back to the Bay.  This was the best ride for scenery of the city.  The Cable car was really crowded now and people were standing and holding on to the sides of the car.  Other cable cars and buses seem to be just inches away as they passed us by.  The steep hills definitely help to make San Francisco unique. The sun was out now so we got our first view of the beautiful blue San Francisco bay.  It was an amazing sight after seeing it the previous day so gray and dreary.  Nonetheless it was still too foggy at the Golden Gate Bridge to see it.

We looked at some huge old boats on the Hyde Street Pier and shopped in some gift shops.  At every entrance to a shop there would be racks of jackets and sweatshirts.  This seemed so odd since it was summer, but it was definitely cool enough for jackets with the temperature in the high 50's and low 60's.  I loved the chill, but my friends lived in the sweatshirts they bought.

Golden Gate Bridge
After lunch at Alioto's which had a great view of the bay and delicious creole scallops, we took the Blue and Gold Ferry for an hour tour of the bay.  The skyline view of San Francisco from the ferry was so impressive because it is on all those hills. The fog had somewhat lifted and we finally got to see the Golden Gate Bridge!  The ferry took us under the bridge and really up close to Alcatraz.  The Golden
Gate Bridge is beautiful but
Alcatraz is kind of creepy
looking.  On our way back
we saw our first sea lions
that had made a home at Pier 39.

Sea Lions at Pier 39

Coit Tower
After our ferry ride we took a taxi to Telegraph Hill to visit Coit Tower. Later we found out there is a city bus that makes regular stops to Telegraph Hill so we rode the bus back.  Coit Tower was a wonderful overlook of the city and bay. We did go to the top but the view were pretty terrific from the ground level, especially in the back.  The first floor of the Coit Tower was covered in murals of the history of San Francisco.


We ended the day with the ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square that we had promised
ourselves the day
before.  They were
definitely worth the
trip back!


Golden Gate Bridge
On the third day of our trip we rented a car and headed out for Monterey and Carmel.  We planned to take Highway 1 South along the coast but because of a lot of road construction going on we ended up going north across the Golden Gate Bridge.  This turned out to be a good mistake because the day was clear and sunny and we finally got to see all of the bridge.  We pulled off at the first exit after the bridge and got some great pictures.  We then got back on the bridge and headed south.
The trip along the coast on Highway 1 was very scenic with views of the Pacific Ocean and lighthouses.  There were also huge fields of strawberries, artichokes and other crops we couldn’t identify.

We stopped at Monterey to shop and have lunch.  But the best part of the trip came next.  We drove the 17 Mile Drive along the coast to Carmel.  The road had the Pacific Ocean complete with great waves, huge rocks, and some sea lions on one side and beautiful wildflowers, golf courses, and multi-million dollar homes on the other side.  There were many pull-offs for stopping for super pictures.

View of Sea Lions on the 17 Mile Drive

Blue Dog Gallery

Carmel had lots of really nice, expensive shops:  jewelry stories, art galleries, antique shops, and cafes.  There was even a Blue Dog gallery that made us Louisiana folks feel at home! 

We drove back to San Francisco on Highway 101 which was faster but a lot more traffic.  There were more giant farm areas of artichokes and also cherry trees.  This trip was a lot to accomplish in one day.

Day 4

We got an early start on our trip to Muir Woods.  We rode back over the Golden Gate Bridge on another beautiful clear morning.  The road to Muir Woods was not long but it was steep and curvy.  Because we had come early we were able to get a close parking space.  Later when we left, the parking lots were full and cars were parked on the side of the road for at least a mile. We spent about 2 hours wandering around Muir Woods enjoying the huge beautiful redwood trees.

It was such a peaceful place with a stream running along the trail with lots of benches for sitting and enjoying the setting.  The main trail was easy for anyone to handle.  There was a more difficult trail, but it was closed.

The town of Sausalito was our next stop.  Sausalito is on the bay directly across from San Francisco.  The view is beautiful and the shops are really nice (not as expensive as in Carmel or as touristy as at the Fisherman’s Wharf).  We ate lunch outside at Poggio Restaurant which had unusual foods on its menu, but we played is safe with some great paninis.

It was getting close to time to turn in the rental car so we headed back San Francisco.  My bad knees needed a break, but the other members of our group went to Lombard Street and walked down that crooked street.  They came back with some beautiful pictures and said it was worth the walk.

We spent our last evening in San Francisco at Pier 39.  It was a lot more enjoyable without the rain of our first day.  I ordered a small sourdough bread bowl of chowder at the Boudins at Pier 39 which was okay but not nearly as good as Boudins at Fisherman’s Wharf. Then it was back to the hotel to pack
up for our trip home the next morning.

What a fun trip!  Where should we go next?


  1. Love the post. I want to go to San Francisco!

  2. Great post, mom! I'm glad you made it through your first one.

  3. What a fantastic job you did of creating your very first blog! It was incredible! You mentioned things that I had already forgotten about and I was right there with you. What a great way to relive "our" retirement trip to San Francisco! Thanks for sharing! I am so blessed to have you as a friend!


  4. Really enjoyed reading this! Can't wait to see what's next.


  5. I can't wait to plan my trip and use all your excellent suggestions for my vacay.

  6. Wow Janice!! This is great! What a wonderful way to journal your adventures!! I went to S.F. in '93. Your story brought back so many great memories. I really enjoyed this. Keep it up!!