Sunday, May 31, 2009

San Fancisco to Carmel-by-the-Sea May 18

San Francisco Encore
May 18

San Jose is 57 miles from San Francisco. The next morning it took us two hours to get to Enterprise Leasing downtown to return our car. It was Monday; there was lots of traffic but it moved smoothly. Entrances onto the freeway are controlled with traffic lights. Approaching San Francisco it looked like a fire but was just low lying fog. We passed the headquarters for Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel, There was a dirigible hanger for the Good Year blimp. We had seen a blimp flying over the bay earlier in the week advertising the disney film 'UP'.

We put 480 miles on the rental car.

It was time to check our bags with Eddy the personable doorman at Hotel Sir Frances Drake. The hotel stored them for us until our room was ready that afternoon.

Hotel Sir Frances Drake has had 6 owners. Kimpton has owned it since 1995. Eddy & Laban were the doormen we met. They have been working there for over 10 years. Laban told us he got his start with the company at Hotel Serrano.

450 Powell Street

We got on a different street car than the others we had ridden earlier in the week, ending up by the Levi Strauss offices/museum.

Lynne Downey the company historian was being interviewed by a Dutch journalist with a European fashion magazine.

There was a jacket displayed from a contest in 1974 where fabric artists were invited to submit Levi jeans jackets they had appliqued.

We watched a film on how they recreate vintage jeans, copying them down to the last rip and worn crease.

There was a display of check blotters that were given away with purchase in the early 1960's to put under your check when you wrote one with a fountain pen so the ink wouldn't go through the paper onto the writing surace underneath.

We walked up to Union & down Lombard Street, saw the wild parrots in some magnolia trees on an upper terrace. You could see them flying around & hear them but when they were in the trees it was very hard to see them because they were the same color as the foliage. A parrot sat with his back to me. He kept turning so all I could see was his tail feathers. I remarked that no one would want to see a picture of the bird's backside. Another photographer commented not to be so sure, that this was San Francisco after all.

The address is 1000 Lombard, corner of Union Street. The best way to get there is from the cable car at Pier 39.

On the corner of Vallejo, bottom of Lombard we found a famed coffee house, Caffe Trieste. It was founded August 28,1956, by an Italian named Johnny Gianni, known as Papa. He dropped by while we were there, played a couple of Nat King Cole songs on the jukebox, Sweet Lorraine & Sunny Side of the Street. The jukebox has records from the day the place opened; artists such as Connie Frances, Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Sinatra, Caruso, Lawrence Welk. It is a very cozy place with shiny red concrete floors, murals on the walls. There was not room for one more picture on the walls, black & white celebrity photos such as Pavarotti or Bill Cosby fixing his own coffee behind the counter.
Caffe Trieste was the first coffee house established on the West Coast.

It was lunch time so we had cafe au lait and a turkey with cheese panini. It was the best coffee I have ever had.

Washington Square, a park shaped like a parallelogram, was around the corner. There were yellow caution strips set out in the middle of the park for a dog obedience class that started as we watched.
There is a big church facing the park, Church of Saints Peter & Paul. There were several statues in the park, such as one of Benjamin Franklin in a grove of trees & a badger by a pond.

On the corner of the park we saw Joe DiMaggio's Chop House. It is open for supper, looked expensive, a place where you would wear a suit & tie.

After that we toured the cable car museum which was free. Cable cars travel at 9.5 mph. There are 40 cable cars with a maximum of 26 operating daily. Cable cars are single or double ended. Singles run on Powell-Mason & Powell-Hyde. This type has to be turned around at the end. Doubles on California don't have to be turned around; the conductor just switches ends of the car.

There were black & white photos of the April 18,1906 earthquake. Fires burned over 400 blocks of the city. The oldest streetcar was on exhibit, Clay Hill #8 from 1873. It is loaned to Chicago for the Columbian exposition & disappeared, turning up in Baltimore at the Baltimore/Ohio railway museum. After this discovery it was returned to San Francisco.

We caught the California to Van Ness streetcar back toward Powell, enjoying a lively tour from our favorite loquacious conductor Chris. Most of the other conductors didn't say anything or visited with their coworkers.

There was a massive Edwardian brownstone facing California Street that seems to take up the entire block known as the Flood Mansion. It is now a private gentleman's club. Chris told us Bill Clinton is a member there.

We ended up near Ghiradelli Square, site of the candy company that is now a shoppping center & condominiums. It is a series of brick buildings. The Clock Tower building dates back to 1916; Mustard bldg 1899; Woolen Mill bldg 1864; Cocoa bldg 1900.

There is a photo contest at the moment where if you submit a winning photo of Ghiradelli Square you can receive a $100 gift card.

Another shopping center nearby is known as Cannery Row & was a Del Monte canning plant.

Quite a few of those submitting San Francisco trips on mention eating at a fast food place called In & Out Burger. There was one on Beach Blvd so we gave it a try. We had cheeseburgers/fries & a coke and it was $9.50 for the both of us. It was very good.

Our room was ready at the Sir Frances Drake Hotel. It was a corner room on the 14th floor, #1428, with a view of Union Suare. We loved it. Beautifully furnished, king bed, nice sheets, quiet. The closet looked as big as my office at home.

The bell hop brought us a box of cookies & a couple of bottles of Sir Frances Drake water that had a picture of the 3 doormen on the label. Normal price of our room was $479.00 according to the sign posted on the back of the door. We paid $165.00.

There was a hardbound San Francisco city guide in the room. It recommended The Stinking Rose, a restaurant on Columbus Street that was also mentioned in the Yahoo trip guides & AAA book. We made reservations. The voice on the answer machine messsage sounded like Dracula. One of the options was if we wanted to speak to a dead person to push button #4. The concierge at our hotel said the rabbit there is terrible. During Shakespeare's time garlic was called a stinking rose.

sign: 'we season our garlic with food'

Robert had the porterhouse pork chop. I had the 40 clove roasted chicken. My chicken was cooked on a bed of garlic cloves. All 40 of them were on my plate.
There was fresh pesto & house brand olive oil to dip our herbed yeast rolls in. The rolls were on a plate that sat on a cast iron stand over a candle to keep the plate of rolls warm, a nice touch. I had the garlic icecream with brown sugar sauce for dessert. Robert did not care for it but I thought it was delicious.

I thought about Oscar Wilde's quip that you never know how much is too much until you over do it. We both had garlic aftertaste in our mouths until the next day however, no matter how many times we brushed our teeth and used mouthwash.

325 Columbus St

There are a ton of good restaurants as well as mom & pop groceries on Columbus Street

sign: 'may dog be with you"

sign: 'enough with the plywood"

We learned that there was a worldwide psychiatric professional convention meeting here this week. Conventioneers from America, Norway, Sweden and Denmark were fellow guests at the Sir Frances Drake. One of them, a Norwegian blonde explained she was attending it & that the convention will be held in New Orleans next year.

San Francisco Scientology Center

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