Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pictures from San Francisco Trip

Since Rob has taken down his blog which had the pictures of our trip to San Francisco, I thought I would copy his posts on the trip here for the benefit of those who didn't get a chance to see the pictures. Rob thought he had saved all his posts, but unfortunately the updates to the original posts with all the comments on the pictures were lost, so for most of the pictures, there are no captions.

Note: I added all my captions as of Thursday 12/2/04. :) Enjoy!

Robs comments on the first few pictures
It will probably take me eighteen days to blog about Carie's and my nine day vacation in Northern California there's so much to tell. (Rob! learn the art of brevity! I hear you moan)

The night before our flight we stayed at Carie's parent's house in Bayside Queens which is a lot closer to JFK airport than where we live in Stamford, CT. Carie's dad was even nice to drive us to the airport even though our flight was at 7:00AM and we (read "Carie") wanted to be there by 5:00AM (I thought getting there by 6:00AM would be fine). So we woke up at 4:15AM to leave the house by 4:30. Needless to say, I was very sleepy.

Our flight on JetBlue to Oakland airport was uneventful. While on the plane I watched for the first time in its entirety The Sound of Music. (OK... I know there are some gaping holes in my filmography).

While on the plane we planned a bit more and decided that the best way to get from the Oakland Airport to our hotel was to take a cab. The guide book said it should only cost $40, and we didn't really feel like making a bunch of transfers (airport shuttle to bart train to muni bus #1 to muni bus #2) with all our luggage. We figured that on the way back -- after we had learned the ropes of the public transportation system -- we could go back via public transportation. But on our arrival we decided to splurge.

We ended up splurging a bit more than we had bargained for. The cab ride came to $58. In calculating the tip, I rounded up to $60, and 15% brought it to $69. This was but a foreshadow of things to come -- many a time we'd end up spending a bit more than we intended -- I have yet to calculate the total cost of the trip, but I am sure it tops the $2,000 we were planning on.

After going over the Oakland Bridge (kind of like Rodney Dangerfield it never gets any respect, people always ogle at the Golden Gate Bridge instead) and going down parts of Embarcadero Street and Bay Street, we turned (ok, the cabbie turned) onto Mason street, where located our hotel, The San Remo, on Mason between Francisco and Chestnut Streets.

The inside of the hotel was very nice and charming. The hallways were filled with hanging plants.

Our room was small, but comfortable.

The room had a sink, but we would be sharing a hall bathroom with the other guests -- as we did at most of the places we stayed. Carie complained (and I loved) that the bed was hard as a rock. We both thought it strange that the room had among its various amenities a back scratcher. Later we would find out why. The room had a fan, but no air conditioning and because it got a good dose of afternoon sun, the room could get quite warm. We left the window open the entire time we were there. The window, however, had no screen. I got chewed alive by mosquitoes. Carie, who would get bitten in Muir Woods and Yosemite, didn't get bitten once in the room at the San Remo. I'll give San Francisco one thing: it's got killer mosquitoes. My bites swelled up to twice the size of bites I get from mosquitoes here and itched twice as much.

Our hotel was in North Beach, just south of Fisherman's Wharf, so after we got to the hotel and settled ourselvs ind a bit we went exploring the Wharf. Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge were pretty fogged in that Friday afternoon.

In our explorations, Rob found some really twisty curvy cool trees and took some pictures. Apparently most, if not all of the vegetation in San Francisco is imported, so we aren't exactly sure what kind of trees these are and where they come from. Any ideas??

We walked about halfway to the bridge, but then decided that we didn't want to walk all the way there if it was fogged in and we couldn't see it, so we walked up a few blocks from the Marina to Lombard Street. In the middle we stopped and sat on a corner to figure out the best way to get where we were going and well about 5 or more people stopped to ask us if we needed help, directions, etc. Rob and I both decided that San Franciscans were nicer than New Yorkers. We had always thought that New Yorkers got a bad rap, that they really weren't so bad and rude and horrible as people always said they were. Neither of us had ever had any trouble, and always thought New Yorkers were a good bunch with a bad rap. Well we decided that if the rest of the world were as nice as San Franciscans were to us while on our trip then maybe the New York attitude was there a bit more than we thought.
Anyway, Lombard Street in that part of the city was very avenue-ish and commercial and full of stores and garages and gas stations and cheesy motels. We weren't so happy walking up it, so we crossed over a block an walked up on a parallel street through a nice residential neighborhood. We climbed Russian Hill on that street and then at the top crossed back over to Lonbard. We turned around and saw a great view of the bridge which had lost some of its fog.

We then walked down the twisty-est street in the world!

We went back to the hotel after Lombard street, it was only a few blocks away. It was about 5ish and we were going to just take a nap and then get supper but we, well I, ended up just going to sleep for the night. I was EXHAUSTED, we had gotten up at like 3:30 AM NY time that morning. Rob at some point got up and went out to get some food for himself, but I slept right through the night.
The next morning we went to shul alllllll the way across town. We stopped for breakfast at Lori's Diner which was right downtown near one of the bus stops. We had some pretty awesome omlets. Omlets in San Francisco are AWESOME! Such cool combinations! Chili and tomatos and peppers and cheese and salsa and avacado. Or grilled eggplant with feta cheese and peppers and pesto. We were happy and ate some good breakfasts while there. I haven't met a San Franciscan omlet that I didn't like. Though Rob and I both agreed that the coffee left something to be desired.
Shul was very nice, it was the first parsha of the year, Bereshit, (The first part of Genesis) the Rabbi gave an interesting sermon about the choices we make as Jews relating it to the recently past High Holidays and (of course)baseball. It was nice though, to be in shul and enjoy our spiritual sides while on vacation. We got to meet some of the congregants, and it was nice to talk with some Natives etc. We had a good time.
Afterwards we decided to go BACK to Fisherman's Wharf and fill in some of the things that we missed the day before.
Like the seals that live at Pier 39!!

We then went to Ghiardelli Square and got some CHOCOLATE! See the SMILE on my face!?!?!?!

We walked from there to the Goledn Gate Bridge. We WERE going to take the bus, but we had just missed it and we lookd at the map and decided it wasn't TOO far, let's just walk. Well, the map wasn't to scale and a few miles later MY FEET WERE KILLING ME!! Rob managed to get me to smile, though I was pretty unhappy in this picture.

But, all that pain was worth it. We got to the foot of the bridge just as the sun was setting. It was GEORGEOUS! This is just one of the many, many, many pictures we took of the bridge that evening.

While were were in the city, some of the hotel workers were striking. Luckily it wasn't at any of the hotels we stayed at.

We took a walking tour on Sunday morning of the Victorian Homes in the city. It was really nice. Jay, our tour guide was extremely knowledgable about the architecture and history of the city. He runs a pretty good business Rob and I thought, the tour runs I think every day from Union Square and it's $20 per person, cash. There were about 30 people on our tour that morning. We really had fun on the tour. It was cool to see all the homes and get an insiders look. We got to see some celebrity homes and the "Mrs Doubtfire" house too. It was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Rob managed to get a great view of the bay, no fog, from on top of one of the hills on the tour.

Early Monday Morning Rob and I left the city and headed in our rent-a-car to Muir Woods. It was SO AMAZING to walk among these ancient Coastal Redwoods. They were so beautiful, and TALL!!

We then went to Sonoma Valley. Neither Rob, nor I are big wine drinkers, but we enjoyed our day there. We bought a few bottles of wine and sampled some more. This picture is of the Sonoma Mission.

Grape fields!


On the way to Yosemite National Park we stopped to look at some of the views. Rob thought that me and the rent-a-car was a good view to take a picture of.

This is an amazing view of El Capitan on the left, Half Dome in the back/center/right, Sentinel Dome on the middle right/ and others I don't remember. This view is right outside the Wawona Tunnel, and well, we stopped to drop out jaws and stare in wonderment on our first evening in the park.

We stayed at the Wawona hotel, which is one of America's historic hotels. And it felt it. The food in the restaurant was good and the hotel itself was nice, but needed renovations. ESPECIALLY the women's bathroom, I couldn't go in there without quite literally getting sick.

Early Tuesday morning we went to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. These trees are thousands of years old, and even fallen are quite impressive. Although Rob and I both agreed that we liked Muir Woods better.

Fantabulous view of Half Dome from Glacier Point. We had great weather while in the park. Sunny, 80-ish degrees, no humidity, it was really nice, and made the views all the more clear and majestic.

We climbed this mountain, Sentinel Dome. It was a pretty easy mile and a half trail, but at 7000 feet, we were both huffing and puffing. It was worth it though, the 360 degree views were amazing.

El Capitan from Sentinel Dome.

On the top of Sentinel Dome is the dead Jeffrey Pine made famous by Ansel Adams.

I did some sketching while up there.

The next morning, Thursday, we drove north in the park, stopping once again to see this view from outside Wawona Tunnel. It was too good to miss in the morning haze. Rob took these before a tour bus pulled up and we got bombarded by Japanese Tourists and their cameras.

I did some sketching of the view above, I didn't even know Rob took this picture until we got home!

We drove into Yosemite Valley for some more views.

We went north to Tulomne Meadows which was pretty but probably not as much so as it is in the spring and summer with green grass and wildflowers.

Befor we headed out, we stopped at Tenaya lake for more views.

Back in the city we stayed this time at The Mosser Hotel. It was nice. Our room was small as expected, but our room faced a brick wall and had a restaurant fume pipe thing underneath, so we got hot smelly air and noise. Rob and I didn't like being downtown as much as we liked NorthBeach where the San Remo was. Downtown was too crowded and noisy and crazy in general.

Friday morning we walked through Chinatown. It was nice, though Rob decided he liked New York's Chinatown better. It was a pleasant morning walking though the neighborhood. And we got some good Chinese food too. :)

We then headed to the Cable Car Museum where you can see a history of the cars, how they work, and watch the cables that run the cars spinning away.

Friday afternoon we took a ferry over to The Rock.

Saturday we went to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, a European Art Museum. it had a Holocaust memorial on its grounds, one of the most graphic we had ever seen.

Carie got the rest of her pictures developed, so here are some more photos from the trip -- some of them actually have me in them!

This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip, I took it from the car as we were driving over the Golden Gaate Bridge.

And then we saw the Bay from Marin County.

Muir Woods!


Little Rob, BIG TREES!!!

We hijacked another tourist to take our picture as we left Muir Woods.

At the Buena Vista Winery. We didn't really like their wine but it was pretty there. We did buy some wine from the Sebastiani Vineyard and also from the Ravenswood Winery.

GRAPES! In color this time.

We entered Yosemite National Park as the sun was setting.

We got a picture of the two of us at that WHOO HOO View from outside the Wawona Tunnel.

HEY LOOK!! I'm in a TREE!!!
The California Tunnel Tree in the Mariposa Grove.

Another WHOO HOO View form Taft Point.

Rob and I at Taft Point, with El Capitan in the background.

The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. We saw this Saturday afternoon. One of the last things we did in the city before we went home.

Thats that! Hope You enjoyed!!