San Francisco

Community Highlights North America San Francisco

On Saturday the 9th of March:

A 45-minute shuttle bus from Cabo San Lucas to catch the flight from San Jose del Cabo (3h 45m) to San Francisco with Alaska Airlines. We arrived on time and our friend Alexis was there to pick us up for a short drive to her home on Golden Gate Avenue where we had snacks and beer and a long chat. It was definitely not shorts weather but not really that cold although Jeni was starting to miss the heat of Cabo. After a couple of hours, Alexis drove us to our hotel, the Royal Pacific Motor Inn, in Chinatown/North Beach. Normally we'd stay with Alexis but at the moment she has a lodger. The hotel is an older style place but we have a large room and a great view of downtown from the "balcony". Our room was described as having a balcony but the balcony is actually the walkway!


A good friend of Alexis (Gay), volunteers at the California Academy of Sciences and very kindly invited us all to join her for a guided tour of the Academy. As well as being a remarkable "museum", it is an stunning piece of architecture designed by Renzo Piano. Their mission is regeneration. "Sustainability is not enough. To repair our damaged ecosystems and climate, we need to redo what Earth got right the first time. It is time to regenerate the natural world". For 2 hours we followed Gay around listening intently to all she had to say. She had encyclopedic knowledge of nearly all of the endangered species, especially those she fed: from Amazonian fish, to penguins to butterflies to frogs to snakes and a blind albino alligator

From the Academy we walked across to the Hamon Observation Tower in the de Young Museum where you get 360 degree views of the city, bay and mountains


Breakfast with Alexis just around the corner from her house and then a walk around the fabulous houses in NOPA (North of Panhandle) area where Alexis' house is located

Alexis drove us to Walnut Creek where she is hoping to move into the Rossmoor gated community. Rossmoor has a population of about 9,200 and was one of the first "active adult" communities for residents 55 years or older in the San Francisco Bay Area about 50 years ago. The drive there was spectacular: across the Golden Gate Bridge and through rolling hills with Mount Diablo (3,849 feet) in the not too far distance

Back in the city, Jeni and I had an excellent North Indian meal at Raavi just down from the Vesuvio Cafe/Bar, where we just had to drop in. This world-renowned San Francisco saloon located in North Beach, just across from the City Lights Bookstore, was first established in 1948 and remains an historical monument to jazz, poetry, art and the good life of the Beat Generation. Vesuvio attracts a diverse clientele: artists, chess players, cab drivers, seamen and business people, European visitors, off-duty exotic dancers and bon vivants from all walks of life. On October 17, 1955, Neal Cassady, the real life Dean Moriarty of the quintessential Beat classic On the Road, stopped at Vesuvio on the way to the now legendary Six Gallery for a poetry reading, and the place has never been the same. It became a regular hangout of Jack Kerouac and other famous Beat poets and has become ground zero for pilgrims on the Beat trail ever since


After breakfast we walked down to Fisherman's Wharf which is really hideous these days with dozens of ugly souvenir shops. The Historic Ships Museum is still there and definitely worth a view, if you can find it

We then took an Uber to Alexis' place and she drove us down to a cinema complex in Daly City where Dune 2 was showing. The technology in the film was amazing but it was very difficult to follow what was going on unless you had read the book recently

In the evening, Jeni and I went looking for a bar to commemorate our 5-week trip and our last night in the city. Not far from our hotel on Columbus Avenue, we came across the Stinking Rose (so called because garlic is the main constituent of all their meals) and settled into the corner to watch the world go by while sipping our beer and wine


We checked out and took our bags to Alexis' place. Little did we know that she had a wonderful afternoon planned for us. She drove us through the Presidio of San Francisco, a park and former U.S. Army base on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. We stopped at Battery Crosby to take some photos from a high point in the park

We then went down to the new Tunnel Tops feature which has been built and landscaped over the tunnels for Hwy 101. A really lovely resource for the people of San Francisco

Our final treat was to be driven over the Golden Gate Bridge again to Marin County and taken up the lofty Hawk Hill for really amazing views of the city

And that was it. Alexis had arranged a wonderful few days for us and had even managed to keep the rain away

Our flight from San Francisco to Auckland was pretty miserable. Air New Zealand are flying the B777-300W: it's very cramped with a 3-4-3 configuration and you can easily get your elbows smashed if you're not careful. Our vegetarian food was vegan and was awful, just mashed potato and a few half-cooked vegetables. Breakfast was much the same. I'm not sure the "extended" seats are worth paying the extra. I'll definitely never fly with Air NZ again. Seats were 38D and E

This featured blog entry was written by kforge from the blog Kevin & Jeni 2024 - Mexico + California.
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By kforge

Posted Sun, Mar 17, 2024 | USA | Comments