Our first morning in San Francisco was spent in part discovering for ourselves its very hilly topography. We went in quest of three day travel passes to get us around on public transport from Sutter Fine Foods which ‘internet told us retailed them. We foolishly thought it couldn’t be far as our hotel was in Sutter Street too. Striding up one ridge, down the next, passing through some rather seedy areas on the way soon corrected that impression. It doesn’t matter in which direction you head in the city, you will soon be climbing a hill – and many of them are really steep too. We should have watched Bullitt again before visiting as a reminder. We then discovered that given the oldies only pay 75 cents per ride and younger companions only two bucks we probably needn’t have bothered. Particularly as our first proper outing was on the hop-on-hop-off tour bus to get a feel for the city.
The tour guide was so screechy and so trying to be funny all the time we jumped off at the third stop and explored the Ferry Terminal on foot. This is close to the financial district and some posh downtown shopping but the terminal building while still having passages to the ferries is now a trendy fruits and vegetable and craft boutique location. We had very pleasant saunter through a fine building but with all the food outlets sporting long queues we decided to look elsewhere.
Lots of walking about meant we were ready for a beer and we found the excellent Royal Exchange Bar and Grill. I got to musing about how good brewing has become in the States. There was a time when Budweiser, Coors and Miller were all you could ever find – none of which I would willingly ever drink. Nowadays craft beers are everywhere and of very high standards and a great variety of tastes and styles.
On our way up into San Francisco yesterday we stopped off for a quickie at the Highway 1 Brewing Company a typical modern day microbrewery with a pilsner, a pale ale, a summer ale, a porter and this week’s special wheat beer on offer. The beer was excellent but even better was the brewery’s slogan – “turning water into something drinkable”. Awesome!
In a stationery and card shop lobby we noticed this fine piece of marketing!
Back on the bus we were again amazed by how maps – even Google’s – foreshorten reality and make you think places are fairly easily reachable from one another. One thing’s for sure when the hippies took over Haight Ashbury in the 60s they didn’t often visit Fisherman’s Wharf 5 miles away to the north of the city. This tour guide was less shouty and we stayed for the duration including crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
We got off the bus back at Fisherman’s Wharf and had a drink in the Blue Mermaid a bar attached to the classy Argonaut Hotel. On a trip to the restroom Dee noticed that a wine tasting was taking place in the hotel lobby area so, always keen to support local enterprise, we joined the other guests in sampling some rather good central valleys wines.
We then caught the regular bus back to the hotel and then set off for dinner at an amazing restaurant recommended by a sound recordist friend, Foreign Cinema, which was way down in the area known as Mission. It was a fantastic steer. Great cocktails while we waited for our table, superb food and service, a great wine list and movies being shown in an open to the skies courtyard: this place is great. Somehow we were once again – a common feature in our lives – the last to leave the restaurant. A cab back and the sleep of the sated and satisfied.