Monday, May 23, 2011

My Trip To San Francisco

I just came back from a trip to San Francisco! If you're planning a trip there too, here are some things you can look forward to.
Upon landing at the airport, if you're lucky, you'll have sun and blue skies!
If you're not so lucky (our case), you'll be wearing these rain ponchos and looking like colourful garbage bags.

We joined the City Sightseeing Tours so we got free red ponchos so that we could sit on the top of the buses and get a better view without getting *too* soaked. Honestly, it was still pretty miserable, but it was also fun. The tours are informative and we hit all the main tourist stops easily with their hop on-hop off option.

We picked up a blue set of these rain ponchos in Fisherman's Wharf's Cable Car Souvenir Store for $1.99 so that we could stay dry there. On Alcatraz, you can buy a clear poncho for something retarded like $6-$9 or more. We were aiming for the free or cheap ones only, but we saw a lot of the expensive ones floating around on the tourists, poor ripped-off things...
But we made up for the bad weather with extra tasty treats - like this old fashioned chocolate milkshake. We were staying at Hotel Abri in Union Square and Lori's Diner was just up the street. The diner is 50's style decorated and the food is not bad. I really liked the milkshake so now I'm wishing we had Lori's Diner around these parts.
It must be a chain restaurant since they are all over San Francisco, but we only liked this particular restaurant near our hotel. We tried out the one near Ghirardelli Square and I hated it. It was smaller, less decorated, the service was poor, and they didn't even serve the same foods!

It's okay though, a Pistachio macaron from Miette in the Ferry Building more than made up for that error. These macarons are actually just as tasty as I imagined them to be. I think I heard this bakery mentioned on a blog once and I've always wanted to try them out. They are crisp on the outside, chewy in the center, and the filling is smooth, rich, and creamy. They're also not too sweet. I quite enjoyed it. If the Farmer's Market is on, go have some Kettle Korn. Ours was fresh-made, fun to watch being made, and kept us happy along our journey. I also liked to look at all the onions and garlics with their shoots still fresh and attached at the Farmer's Market. I don't see that very often in the supermarkets here.
So back to the tour itself, the architecture in San Franciso is amazing. I love the old Victorian-style houses.
Some of them are quite colourful!
And the gazillion churches around town are all so beautiful.
You know what's also beautiful? The nature. I loved the pink wild flowers along the highway.
There were cool twisted bushes in Golden Gate Park.
And check out the amazing greenery on Alcatraz Island! Can you imagine this beauty at a prison? I was shocked by how lovely this particular stairway was. Below it was a very, very old geranium. I didn't know geraniums could become bushes with woody stems since they are annuals in my area. There are also eucalyptus trees on Alcatraz Island, giving off lovely aromatic, herb-like scents.
Speaking of nature, here are the sea lions on Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf. There are lots of little kids that chant, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" whenever the sea lions fight over who has rights to a particular spot to nap.
Of course, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without seeing the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
Ever notice how the gate looks like Lego from underneath?
We also purchased a day pass for the Muni transit system so that we could ride around on the cable cars all day. It costs $5 one way to ride the cable cars, but you can pay $13 for a day pass and use any of the cable cars, trolley buses, regular buses, etc.
This is a regular trolley bus ticket. It's a blast from the past because it reminds me of the old bus tickets we had in Vancouver when I was little. The tickets in San Francisco last three hours though. In BC, bus passes only last 1.5 hours! We get ripped off :)So back to the topic of food, if you ever go to San Francisco, you should drop by Dotties True Blue Cafe for breakfast. There's always a line up, and it's in a scuzzy part of town, but the food is really good. I got the Whiskey Fennel Sausage, Baby Spinach, and Mushroom Scramble and it came with home potatoes (soft-cooked, large chunk potatoes) and a thick slice of toasted jalapeƱo cornbread. I ate the cornbread with the raspberry jam/syrup provided at the table and it was soooooo yummy!
My hunny got the breakfast special with french toast and bacon. The bacon is seriously the thickness of three regular slices of bacon that I'm used to. I dunno if that's good or not since it's more like bacon jerky at that thickness, but my hunny seemed to enjoy it. The french toast is very thick, has the consistency of cornbread cake, and reminded me of the famous mini cinnamon sugar donuts at the PNE.
I thought it was pretty yummy, but I was too addicted to the raspberry jam on the jalepeno cornbread to really care. I have a mild addiction to raspberry jam as is. Add it to spicy cornbread and I'm in heaven.
After three rainy days in San Francisco, we boarded a cruise ship back to Vancouver, Canada. The weather was sunny and the ship, Coral Princess, was pretty nice. If you're wondering about cruise ship comparisons, here's a comparison for you:

Rooms: roomier and nicer than Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, but the shower is tiny with a nasty curtain and poor drainage.

Hallways: around the rooms, it smells like a really bad fart, mildew, or a sewage leak - take your pick of what it might actually be. The main areas smell fine, but near the rooms it was kinda of nauseating. I have no idea whether this was normal for this boat or if there was some kind of leak/problem/guests with stomach problems.

Food: the food is not as good as on Royal Caribbean. The buffet is so-so, and the restaurant food is only good on chef specialty nights. On chef specialty nights, it's better than Celebrity, but on the other nights it's not as good as Celebrity's dinners. I also found that "anytime" dining sucks compared to set-time, reserved dining because the service is not very good for anytime dining and you don't get to sit with the same people each night. I liked making friends at the dinner table and seeing them each day to see how their day went.

Snack foods: The Princess cruise line is also less-awesome on things like ice cream bars and pizza parlors. The Princess pizza sucks (too thin), doesn't have different flavours each day (only cheese, pepperoni, and another one), and the ice cream bar only has two flavours - chocolate and vanilla, LAME. The other cruise lines have a gazillion flavours, all the toppings you could possibly imagine, and there are new flavours each day, including sorbets.

Shows: The shows on Princess cruises is better than Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. They were like Vegas productions! I was really impressed. However, they don't serve awesome drinks like on Royal Carribbean or Celebrity. The Princess drinks are only so-so. I was really hoping for a drink like a Mudslide, but nothing like that was available. The closest I found was a chocolate-banana-coconut version and it was sour for some odd reason.

All in all, I wouldn't go on a Princess cruise again unless there was a really awesome deal. The hallways are too stinky and the food is not great. The shows are great, but I don't know if that's enough for me to go back to the stinky hallways.

Anways, this was a pretty cool trip to San Francisco. I liked this city and it's quaintness.

That being said, I was happy to return to Vancouver. I had heard so much about the food in San Francisco but, really, the food in Vancouver is better! The seafood here is so much more fresh, the Chinese food is better, and of course sushi is awesome here since we've got the fresher seafood. The first thing I did when I came home was go for Dim Sum. Oh, and our fish and chip joints offer more options. I was hard-pressed to find anything other than cod at the fish and chip joints (I'm allergic to cod). Over here, we usually have salmon, cod, and halibut as fish options - thanks Pajos!

Soooooo, come to Vancouver!!!

Ah, but I feel mean to say that. I did like the breakfast foods in San Francisco and the milkshake at Lori's was pretty darn good. A lady from San Francisco on my cruise ship said that I had only done "Tier One" of the San Francisco touring. She said that I might have a different experience when I go back for "Tier Two" to check out the different neighborhoods in more detail. I'll have to head back to San Francisco for a new experience next time.

Know of any really good food places in San Francisco? Let me know!!!

Have a very happy day :)


Joni K said...

I have to say, I've never been to SF, but you are correct about Vancouver food! I've been in California for 3 years now, and miss/compare to Vancouver food! (However, breakfast foods here are pretty decent too. weird, huh? I guess breakfast is pretty standard wherever you are =D)

Anonymous said...

Where's the ice cream sundae at Ghiradelli ? said...

@JoniK, good thing you're coming back soon for food in Van, huh?

I'm looking for a good local breakfast place here. Know of any? Most of the time I just stick with Dim Sum. That's always a hit :)

@Anonymous, I didn't try one there. Is it delicious?

Anonymous said...

hi there, where in Haight can I find those colorful victorian houses? love the picture by the way! said...

Hi Anonymous,

I don't know the exact location. We were on a tour bus and I just snapped pictures as we were passing by. If you're looking for the most famous "painted ladies", as they are called, you'll find them in Alamo Square. Here's a link with more information:

Apparently the general location is lower Haight.

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