Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sat 25 Oct - San Francisco, CA

Go west...

Well, we didn't go west for very far, just across the San Francisco peninsula to its western shore on the Pacific Coast.

First though, we had a quieter, slower morning after our long day yesterday. We didn't get into the hostel kitchen for our breakfast until 8am. Then it wasn't so quiet anymore as that seemed to be the time when the younger crowd (of we think Quebec College students) also got there. Nowhere to sit inside the kitchen area so we had our brekkie on a bench in the hallway.

Still on "go slow" mode we left the hostel just after 9.15am.

Bus 38 on Geary Street took us all the way across town and to the Veteran Administration Hospital. Crossing San Francisco is truly a rollercoaster as the hills took the bus up and down and up and down...

From VA Hospital we wandered around to explore the Lands End as the area is called. This is how we walked.

We got onto another bus as soon as we reached Geary Road again so ignore the rest. Hans forgot to switch off Runkeeper.

And to put our wander into a broader perspective in relation to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking south along the Pacific from the former Fort Miley site - lots of wind and sea spray made the beach look a bit daunting.

Yes, Fort Miley was a former defense post and you can see the remnants of what once was here.

Hans was climbing down the ladder to explore further... On Di's request.

A sign board explaining the history of Fort Miley...Which never fired a shot.

...and a close up of the map showing Fort Miley and its surroundings.

We continued down the hill to the USS San Francisco Memorial and the parking lot with great views towards Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands.

These steps link the parking lot and the Coastal Trail which is where we were heading.

We followed the Coastal Trail south to check out what was left of Sutro Baths.

The answer was, not much, but it was certainly a very dramatic place. Windy, with plenty of sea mist.

A few more pics from around Sutro Baths, which as you can tell are now in ruins. They were built in the late 1800's by an entrepreneur, Adolph Sutro, along with a Cliff House and some other local attractions.

Interesting place to create a public bath as the weather here must be absolutely ferocious at times which we figured is why the place is now in ruins.

We then backtracked along the Coastal Trail which was essentially a rail trail. Adolph Sutro once built a railway here to take people to his baths by train.

The trail was more bush hike than we expected as somewhere along the way it changes name from the Coastal Trail to Lands End Trail. Great views along the way and we really enjoyed it.

Plenty of Australian gum trees yet again.

It was surely rugged along the coast here.

Plenty of warning signs, including a very explicit one...

Hmm surely you could have a sign similar to this at any high bridge, dangerous road crossing, beach etc. Good to know the trail was dangerous and closed but perhaps a bit over the top as a warning.

The view towards Golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island from Eagles Point.

And we pop out at the other end, at what was called Lincoln Highway but wasn't really a highway. Maybe once.

We then followed Camino del Mar up the hill to the Legion of Honour, an art museum rated by Tripadvisor as the best museum to visit in San Francisco.

No, we didn't go in, just took this photo outside and then continued. We've seen a lot of great museums during our travels and we had other plans for today.

Down the hill and we are back at Geary Road.

We did aim to take the same bus, number 38, back downtown, but across the street was an electric bus which showed California.

That suited us perfectly as we now had plans for a light dim sum lunch in Chinatown and California Street intersects Chinatown.

Yes, the bus took us all the way into Chinatown as we got off at the corner of Clay and Stockton Streets.

Transamerica Pyramid is a good landmark as it is only a block or so away from Chinatown but all the signs in Chinese were another good indication.

A few pics as we search for our House of Dim Sum, the same place were we had chinese dumplings a week ago on our way to pick up the car to go to South Lake Tahoe.

We found some small laneways which also take our memories back to travels in Malaysia and other locations. We can't help it - we like Chinatowns more than art museums.

We arrived and quickly settled in with 8 dim sums each i.e. 16 in total, for all up $12. Fantastic value and as good as last time.
We didn't get all the choices we wanted and ended up with one set of spinach dumplings which were nice but put on our plates without asking. Maybe communication breakdown but we didn't mind - they were good too. You get what's on offer, not what you want...

After our light lunch we found some more small laneways and a map in one which showed we could connect a series of them to head 3 to 4 blocks towards our hostel.

This particular Dim Sum restaurant claims to the oldest, running for 94 years. We liked their sign about saving water. Solution? Drink more Chinese beer!

On Stockton Street, we faced a tunnel and decided it was a good way to continue through it. The tunnel turned out to be an efficient shortcut back towards Union Square.

Back at our hostel around 2pm we opted for a quiet afternoon with a cup of tea and a rest before heading out later for dinner. A nice treat to sit still and rest for a while. It has been a bit go go go.

So, just before 6pm, we are dressed up (Di) and "dressed up...." hmmm (Hans) and on the BART for the 3 stations trip from Powell Street... 24th Street and Mission. Tonight is Di's last night in San Francisco before heading back to Australia tomorrow. So, we are going out for dinner... a restaurant on Mission between 21st and 22nd Street, where we pass this interestingly named place, before we arrived at...


...this place...

...called Foreign Cinema.

The restaurant had been recommended to Di by a work mate, Stuart, and so we booked it before leaving Australia. On TripAdvisor, Foreign Cinema was also highly rated and we liked the sound of dining in an old movie theatre.

The entry hall does feel like it should have a box office instead of a desk for checking reservations.

The projection room equipment is still in use showing an old black and white movie on the back wall of the "outside" area during dinner.

We were given a nice table in the mezzanine level, which feels like the old balcony of the cinema. The poster on the wall behind Di promoted what appeared to be an old Polish movie.

You can see the balcony rail behind Hans and into the main dining area below.

Sorry, no food porn photos of our shared entree or bread as they were both stunningly good and disappeared before we thought about photos. The entree in particular was unique being a Spanish style baby calamari stew with a Mexican mole sauce, coriander, aioli and potatoes.

That may sound weird but the dish was so good Hans wants Di to recreate it when we get home. Challenge...

For our main meals, we did remember the food photos - Di chose a lovely dish of 5 spiced duck breat below...

...and Hans had "true cod", their words, with clams in a stew like mix with saffron, garlic, aioli and some sort of noodle. Both were delicious.

The images below (borrowed) show the outdoor section and how the movies are shown. It looked just like this but our photos did not work.

We caught a glimmer of the moving images from our table and enjoyed the ambience. Did we mention that earlier they played early Brian Eno through their loudspeakers. Respect!

After a leisurely lovely dinner which we both rated highly, we opted to enjoy the atmosphere of the streets and walk back to the BART station on Mission and 24th Street instead of catching a taxi home. After all, the time was only just after 8pm although it was a Saturday.

We felt safe but we did pass plenty of dodgy small groups with a strong whiff of pot prevailing several times. The gentrification has not fully reached everywhere in the Mission district even though Mark Zuckerberg call it his home these days.

Along the way the other aroma we got was of fried onions and BBQ. These small carts dotted the street and all sold the same thing - of bacon wrapped hotdogs and fried onions.

Smelled great, looked unhealthy, and we assumed this guy had been enjoying a few too many fruits of his labours...but he was kind enough to allow a photo when we asked permission.

Hans could be back for a wander and cheap lunch after Di has left...

Back to BART Mission and 24th Street station for the trip home.

Not terribly busy and maybe something Di would not do dressed up and on her own. Now it was very quiet though. Note all the bikes parked there to the right. This is inside the area where a ticket is required.

We had a smooth journey back the 3 stations to Powell St and returned to the hostel around 9pm feeling very satisfied with our night out. All good, but for now it is good night.

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