First day in San Francisco. What to do? Cheryl and I had been in SF a number of times. We really love the city. It's been a while, so pretty much anything would be OK.
We met Stan and Carol at 10 AM, and went to breakfast. Stan suggested Sears (not the department store), a very popular restaurant near our hotel and just off Union Square. We had a short wait, but were soon seated in the downstairs section of the restaurant. The waiters were very busy, but the service was good. And the food was very good. I believe I had been at this restaurant before, and it was good to revisit.
Breakfast done, we decided to try the "hop-on hop-off" tourist bus. We could get to see the city, listen to commentary, and get to all the places to see. Also, they had an excursion to Sausalito, a small town just north of SF. We bought the tickets, and were told the line started just across the path in Union Square. We saw the line and it didn't look too bad. We got on line and were soon told that this was just the first part of the line. It continued across the path, then across another path, then up the street. Well, it was tourist season after all. We had the tickets, so we got on line. Turns out, the busses were frequent, and the line moved right along. Employees kept the line in order and moving.
Our turn to board came, but there were no seats in the upper deck. We could sit in the enclosed lower deck, and move up as seats became available. The bus started and we began the scenic trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. Shortly into the trip we realized that people were listening to ear buds. We had not gotten ear buds, but soon found a box of them near the door. Stan grabbed some and gave them to each of us. We connected them to jacks on a sound system on the ceiling above each pair of seats. Cheryl's worked. I was not so lucky. No problem. There was a spare jack on the next seat over. We finally got the sound working.
We drove around the city, passing notable sites such as Haight/Ashbury (those of a certain age know what I am talking about. The rest of you ask your elders). Not bad, but tough to see from below. It soon became apparent that in order to get a seat upstairs, you had to wait for some folks to come downstairs and off the bus, then be spry on your feet to dash upstairs ahead of others. Unfortunately, spry is no longer in the repertoire of any of us. We remained downstairs.
We drove past some sites in the Presidio and soon onto the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, you get some very nice views of Alcatraz Island and SF. A little foggy, but this is SF after all. We got to the north end of the bridge, and pulled into a scenic overlook site. Great views of the city, and the bridge. Here we were also going to change busses to get one for Sausalito. We walked around reminiscing about previous times we had been here, then got the bus to continue on. Sausalito is a lovely town right along SF Bay. You go downhill onto a wonderful main street filled with restaurants and shops, overlooked by nice homes with beautiful landscaping. We hopped off the bus and walked around the town. It was warm and sunny out, but as always there was a breeze. We passed a tee shirt shop that Cheryl and I had visited many years earlier. I had a couple of tee shirts from this shop that are now proudly woven into my tee shirt quilt at home. One of those shirts is still in the window! After a while we decided to stop for lunch. We found an Italian place. Turns out they make wonderful pizzas. Cheryl and I shared one. Very good. After lunch, we walked around a little more, then decided to get the bus back to SF.
We got to the bus pick up area where we saw a few different tour busses from different companies, and a crowd of people trying to determine which line was for which bus. No one seemed to be organizing the crowd. In a short time, the hop-on hop-off bus came by. The curb where the people were waiting was filled, so he stopped across the lot. All at once, the crowd moved over to the bus, forgetting any semblance of a line or any order. The crowd stood in the travel lanes of the lot, trying to get on the bus. The driver got out and tried to get order, but it didn't happen. Finally a policewoman came by to try to clear the travel lanes. Soon a line did start to form, with the policewoman trying to clear an entrance to a parking area. Worked to a degree.
The bus filled and went on it's way. Soon the next bus came along, and stopped along the first curb. The policewoman told us to maintain the line and move over to the bus across the travel lanes. Didn't happen. Soon there were people coming at the bus from multiple directions. Somehow, we managed to get on that bus, along with way too many people for that bus. We had to stand, but having commuted to NYC for many years, that didn't bother me. We were on our way back to the city. As we were on our way, a young couple decided to come downstairs and walk to the front of the bus. They stood in the front door well so they could talk to the driver along the way. During the ride, some folks decided it would be a good idea to move up and down the small spiral staircase. Seemed a little too exciting to me.
We finally came to a stop near Fisherman's Wharf. I had wanted to visit the touristy spots, so this seemed like a good place to hop-off. We walked down the wharf, looked at some shops, and went to a bar near the cable car terminus called the Buena Vista. Stan had a long history with this bar, particularly the third bar stool from the door. We're talking late sixties here. They also make a great Irish Coffee. We each had to have one. We then decided to walk back to the hotel. Which way to go? Which way had the fewest hills. We walked along the Embarcadero (think docks). This area has really built up. Some docks have shops, one has a children's museum, etc. We walked up Market Street, the main business district. Think 5th Avenue in NYC. Combination of high end shops on one block, followed by a large Ross Store on the next. We made it back to the hotel, having walked a total of 6 miles today. We were all really tired but had not had dinner. We didn't really need much, so we found a Chinese restaurant right around the corner from the hotel, and chowed down on Dim Sum. Very good. Dinner done, we headed they 20' back to the hotel and called it a night.
Tomorrow: More San Francisco.