With feelings of the impending doom of going home, San Francisco was our very last stop.
We got into San Francisco late on Thursday afternoon after the long drive from Monterey. There was a little daylight left so we headed for the Botanic Gardens and, most specifically, the Japanese Tea Garden. We came here on a bus tour in 2005 (as part of my 40th birthday trip) and it sparked our interest in Japanese gardens and culture. Although we had been to Japan (and seen real Japanese gardens) at the beginning of this trip, it felt good to come back here again to revisit where it all began (though this time it was considerably colder).
Sods law we got lost in the Botanic Gardens trying to find the Japanese Tea Garden, only to find (an hour later) that it was about 100 metres from where we had parked the car (doh!)
It’s a beautiful and restful place, and we spent a happy hour here (reminiscing about the old days…) before heading to our motel for the night.
We had just one full day left, so the next morning so we jumped in the car and tried to make the most of this beautiful city.
First stop, the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District. We’d not seen any pictures (just read positive reviews about it) and so were shocked to find that it’s a monumental structure. It was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art. It suffered badly over the subsequent decades but has since been restored. It is an exceptionally beautiful building situated in a really nice residential area. I’m pretty sure the property prices here would be well out of our priceband, especially the ones with the view of the Palace itself!
Then it was back onto Lombard Street (it’s very, very long) past our motel and on to the famous part where it zig zags down a hill past some posh houses. No doubt about it, San Francisco is a great place to drive and another town where you feel like you’re in a movie set!
We drove on to Fort Mason to get a couple of shots of the the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz, and then made our way to the famous Pier 39 (Fishermans Wharf). It’s a bit “Southend” on the pier itself and is most famous for the colony of seals that hole up there and bask in the sun (someone must be feeding them). Then we were off to Boudin for an excellent lunch. They’re famous for their sourdough bread bowls that are scooped out and then filled with clam chowder (bleugh), so I had a sourdough chicken sandwich instead!
After a quick walk we then went back to the car and headed for our next stop, but got a little lost. However …. that turned out OK as we ended up on top of Telegraph Hill and went up Coit Tower for some excellent views of the city.
Then it was on to Union Square. We had to park a fair way away, but it was a nice walk, and you really appreciated the incline on the SF streets. At Union Square there was a load of building work going on, so it wasn’t looking that great, but the walk back to the car through Chinatown was well worth it for the sights and the smells!
And that was sadly the last sightseeing day of our trip. It has been a wonderful adventure. Not always easy, and we probably packed too much in, but we have seen, smelt, tasted and heard all sorts of amazing things (plus some pretty gross things along the way too).
It was hard to enjoy the last few days as we knew we would be going home imminently. We were not ready to go home, and certainly didn’t want to, but we still had one more night before it all ended. We chose a restaurant just opposite our motel (Mel’s Drive In) so we could both had a good old nosh up and, more importantly, a very large drink!
And then it really was all over……