Leg 2: San Francisco, Sept 1-5

Posted by Mike Merritt in Travelogue on

So I arrived in San Francisco – actually, Emeryville, which is just outside the city, near Oakland – only to find out that I forgot to add on a bus trip connection from the trajn into the city. Whoops. Got an pass in the station and got on the bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. Not knowing the bus routes at all yet, I took a taxi to my hotel.

The Chelsea Motor Inn, in the Marina District, is part of a set of hotel that emulate a motor inn. It was pretty no-thrills, but I needed a place to sleep, and it was relatively cheap for a hotel in the city proper. It is surrounded by bars and restaurants, especially brunch places.

Just getting in and it being pretty late by then, I took it pretty easy, especially as I hadn’t slept very well on the train. Got some necessities at a nearby Walgreens and took a walk of the immediate area, selected a nearby Italian place for dinner, then went to bed.

Got a late start the next day due to wanting more sleep. I think people oftentimes want to get a full day of activities, but I think a late day here or there during a trip is okay. I’m having a very early day on Sunday, so it’ll balance out.

I decided to start with Fisherman’s Wharf. Before the trip, I purchased a CityPass, which got me access to several museums, a cruise in San Francisco Bay, and most importantly, unlimited travel on the Muni system of electric and diesel buses, light rail, historic street cars, and cable car trolleys. Basically, no more taxis (except, as of this writing, maybe on Sunday morning.

I took the cruise and it was a pretty good way to get an up close look at the Golden Gate Bridge, and some history of the city. Very cold and windy, though! In fact, that was my first lesson when arriving in the city. I knew it would be cooler than Los Angeles or even Chicago (making my clothing choices, if you didn’t know my plans, look like I couldn’t decide what to bring), and even windy, but I wasnt prepared for the intensity of the wind. I brought my coat and jeans, so I was prepared, but I tried to go out the first night without it. Rookie mistake.

I next went to the Aquarium at the Bay (my other option was the Monterey Aquarium, two hours away). It had a lot of cool fish and I got to touch a ray! I think they knew the game of which they were a part, as they kept coming right up to people. I thought the aquarium was okay for what it was. True to its name, it featured animals mostly from the Bay Area.

I walked around Pier 39 some more, had some lunch, and then decided to leave. I decided to board one of the hisoric streetcars. It was pretty much like one of the regular buses but from the 1950s. I up ended up in the Embarcadero area, thinking to o
ravel to the Transbay Hub, but I felt a little lost still, so turned back. I ended up grabbing a cable car trolley (no, I didn’t hang off the side). Without the city pass, it would have cost $7.00, but with the pass, it’s like having another bus option.

I got off on a street that had the bus I needed to take and found myself in Chinatown. When I salked to the bus stop, there was some kind of performance going on across the street. I later found out it was in front of the Kong Chow Temple, dedicated to the god of war, Guan Di. It was after closing time, so I’m not sure of the occasion. A private event, perhaps. Boarded the bus when it arrived and headed back to the hotel.

I either ate too many of my snacks, or maybe it was from my hotdog lunch, but I did not have a great night Wednesday night. Feeling kind of woozy, I just stayed in my room on Thursday and got some rest.

I felt better on Friday morning, so I went to Home Plate, a popular brunch restaurant near my hotel. There wasn’t much seating, so I thought there’d be lengthy wait, but being a solo traveler has its advantages, and I got a seat at the bar-like area quickly. I had a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and apple juice. It was pretty good. There were only two pancakes, and I thought maybe there wouldn’t be enough to fill me up, but it did. The restaurant is also known for its scones, which it gives before the main meal. Not really having scones before, I thought it was okay.

After breakfast, I returned to my room to wait for my pickup en route to the redwoods at Muir Woods. The trip took about 40 minutes, with switchbacks that reminded me a lot of ones I experienced during a bus trip in Greece. The park was pretty nice, with trees that were younger than some of the redwoods upstate, but still really tall. Spent about an hour and a half there – way too little time to get very far – so definitely will have to go back someday. Returned to the hotel, got some food, and called it a day.

On Saturday, I traveled to Golden Gate Park to see the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, an art museum. Also didnt have enough time to see either, nor did I see the Legion of Honor, another art museum. I had to get across town to get my ticket back to Emeryville, then to AT&T Park to see Billy Joel.

He did a fantastic show – a mix of hits and catalouge songs. He definitely still has a lot of the range he used to. Some artists sound terrible when they get older, but not him. The audience was also very cross-generational. There were people 18+ at least. Sometimes with older artists, you wonder if they’ll attract a younger audience, and he definitely does. Everyone was singing along and I could tell they enjoyed it, too. The park was in a great location right next to the east bay. Just a great night.

That’s it, really. Will have to get back to see the many things I missed, but despite being sick, I still had a really great time.

Next, a day in LA, then a train to Chicago!

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