Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Frisky in Frisco

Well, not really. But I did want a clever title for our Bloggy Spring Break Trip to San Francisco today!

Back in 2004 I planned a weekend getaway to the lovely bay area. This, by no means, will tell you everything there is to do there. This is just what WE decided to do, and what MY preferences were. This was a weekend trip that I planned when I was married, for our ten-year anniversary. It was about 5 years ago, so "prices and terms may vary" from what they are today.

First of all, I decided that we would stay at an airport hotel because it was cheapest, and we could just take the BART everywhere else we wanted to go. It wasn't worth it for us to rent a car, plus I knew parking would be a constant battle. I knew that we would spend some time down at the Wharf, some time in China Town and in Union Square, since there was an art show at Union Square that same weekend.

Well - Let me just say that I loved the Wharf sooooo much, we ended up spending about 90% of the time there. I remember practically running through Union Square, glancing at the art and thinking, "yeah. nice art. let's get back to the Wharf." So, if I ever went again, I would be willing to shell out the extra cash to stay at a hotel on the Wharf the entire time, verses buying the day passes on the BART and spending each morning and night worrying about schedules and connections. Enough said about that...

As mentioned, we did stop at Union Square. This is the shopping district. And when I say "shopping" I mean like Bloomingdales and Nieman Marcus type shopping. Well, I didn't see a need to spend that sort of money (which I didn't have anyway). Mostly, I wanted to relax and buy things for the kids. I figured if I wanted to spend money on overpriced clothing, I could do that just as easily at home.



Alcatraz - If it is your first time to San Francisco, I would definitely recommend this tour. It's a short ferry ride out to the island. We did the "tour" with the headset, and it was worth it in my opinion. You could sort of walk the grounds at your own pace, with your own "personal guide" (the headset). Plus I liked hearing all of the the facts and details. Without the headset, it probably would have just seemed like I was walking around an old jail. The views are gorgeous from here too.

I'd also say if it's your first time, you have to ride a cable car at least once. We almost gave up as the lines to ride one were always sooooo long. However, once we were in China Town, we happened upon a line that wasn't too long. So we hopped on the trolly and rode on over to the Wharf.
Oh - and by the way, when we were in China Town, it was an affirmation that we made the right move in not renting a car. Traffic was crazy and double-parking seemed to be the norm. Lunch there was extremely cheap, however. Though, I don't know for the life of me what I was eating (please tell me it wasn't squid. I'm going with chicken.)




Things we did down at Fisherman's Wharf in addition to taking the Alcatraz tour...


Of course we had to eat at the famous In & Out Burger. I had a #1 Combo with a Neapolitan Shake. It was good. Oh - and you had the option of ordering your fries without salt. I thought it was a little unusual, but thoughtful of them, nonetheless. (By the way, we are getting an In & Out Burger here soon! Whoo hoot!)

We also had to come here... to the Original Ghirardeli Factory at Ghirardeli Square. We did a little shopping for what else but chocolate. We sampled a little, and took the rest home for the kids.

I have to tell you this story. Outside there was a man, missing a leg, sporting an old Hawaiian shirt playing songs on his guitar for money. Just as we were walking out of the factory out I hear him say, "Are you ready kids?" So, as if it were a natural reflex (honestly, I don't know what made me do it), I turn around and say, "Aye Aye, Captain." Tourists around us stop and look, wondering if this had been arranged. The transient on the guitar then says, "I can't heeeeear you!" I again say, "Aye Aye, Captain!" He then begins to play and sing, "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" I sing back, "Sponge Bob, Square Pants." He sings, "Absorbent and yellow and porous is he?" by this time the crowd gets it and joins in, "Sponge Bob Square Pants!" And thus the fun began. Of course we drew a big crowd. At the end, I went to give him a few dollars. He refused, saying that I had drew him the biggest crowd of the day and that was payment enough. Sweet, huh?


The street artists down at the wharf are very entertaining. However, don't plan to take their picture unless you plan to pay. That's right. This is how many of them make their living. There are men painted in silver and gold who look like statues. There are some who make paintings in just minutes using blank canvases and cans of spray paint. There are the musicians, such as the Hawaiian, legless transient.
The funniest one I saw was called the "Bush Man". This man disguises himself as a bush and stands still for several seconds at a time. Then, he jumps out and scares unknowing tourists. It's quite funny to watch.




There are also tons of vendors that sell souvenirs. The street vendors down at the wharf is where we found the best priced items to take home to our kids. T-shirts were 3 for $10 in most cases.

Food - there are tons of good places to eat down at the Wharf too. There are little cafes, sandwich shops, cart vendors and the like. One place I would definitely suggest if you love kitchy-theme places is here:



Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. - This place, if you haven't guessed is based on the movie Forrest Gump. The food is awesome and comes in huge portions. We each ordered an entree and shared. The place is all decked out Forrest Gump style too, and each time the waiter or waitress comes to the table be prepared to answer a trivia question from the movie.

If you're going to be down at the Wharf anyway, you must stop and visit the sea lions at Peir 39. Following the earthquake of '89, the sea lions began arriving at pier 39 in groups of between 10-50. The were looking for refuge and because of the amount of herring and the amount of dock space pier 39 offered, they sort of assumed it as their new home. Warning, they do smell, and their "barks" are noisy. It's like a barnyard, but they are fun to watch. Sometimes you'll even see a few pick a fight or two, just like any other set of siblings. They say there are over 300 Sea Lions there today.


One of the last things we did was take a little boat ride out to the Golden Gate Bridge. Down at one end of the Wharf we noticed several boat owners that offered rides out to the bridge. We found one that went every hour on the hour and it was $10 per person. So we went. Of course, trying to catch a day without fog in San Francisco is almost impossible, and the water is choppy, but the ride was still worth it.

15 comments:

Debbi said...

GREAT tour! Makes me wanna go! Loved the picture of the winding road!

greenolive said...

I would love to go to California someday and maybe now I know where to go. Frisco sounds great.

Ashley said...

Fun trip! I really want to go to San Francisco but it is a long way from here!! Maybe one day...

P.S. We went to "Sea Lion Colony" in Cabo and it sure was stinky!!

Ruthykins said...

that's nice. i guess i would have to go to the wharf if i was ever in san francisco. if i go, do i have to eat rice a roni?

purplehaze said...

Nice post! I grew up in the Bay Area and S.F. is one of my favorite places to go, but your right don't bring a car it is just not worth it! If you go back you will have to take the kids and go to the Golden Gate Park! They have so many science places and hands on stuff to do. The Zoo is pretty cool too! Oh and you have to go to the Cliff House for a meal it is awesome!!

Tulsi said...

I have always wanted to go here. Everytime we plan something, something comes up.

Tulsi said...

I have always wanted to go here. Everytime we plan something, something comes up.

Vickie said...

I loved the Spongebob song guy story.

Very nice trip. The last time I went to California was in 1994 in Califonia City-boring! There was nothing but desert!

San Fran reminds me of Darhma and Greg. Remember that show:) Oh ya, another one, Charmed!

erasundar said...

This spring break of yours is making me feel like I'm actually on vacation myself. At a time when I am a bit overwhelmed with life, I really appreciate the tours. Thanks

RhondaLue said...

Who woulda thunk it??? I wanna go to Frisco now! I wouldn't mind making it just a couple trip just so I can do a blog post titled frisky frisco.

Wow, I wanna go real bad. lol

That's funny about the spongebob dude...the chocolate factory sounds DIvinE and i've never seen a trolley in person either. Have I mentioned yet that now I really want to plan a trip there?

pinkelephant said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Felt like I was actually there even! And the thing with the singer-amazing. Those things happen a lot in the movie!! Made me want to go visit the area. Thank you!

Susie said...

That is on the bucket list for me:-)

Cindy said...

That was an awesome trip! I haven't been to CA since I was 7...I was fortunate to do alot of the same things...it's a great place.

Megan said...

So so awesome! I've been to San Fran once or twice, but it was a LONG time ago. One of the times I was on a choir tour so we were only down there for a day or so and were in groups. I barely remember the trip at all. Must go back!

Spongebob story is too hilarious! heehee

Two Blessings From Above said...

Now I am homesick! I grew up across the bay from SF and spent every weekend there. My husband and I got engaged on the wharf. Loved all your pictures!