Monday, September 5, 2011

From Cable Car to Cliff House

Whenever traveling to a new place for the first time, it's always nice to know some locals who can show you around.  In this case, the first timers were my best friend from Junior High/High School Laura and her husband Joe.  They were in the Bay Area to celebrate their 20th anniversary.  After doing a couple days in Napa, they came to the City.

There were a few things on their list that people should do/see when in San Francisco.  Riding a cable car is one of those things.  They were staying in a hotel near the Powell cable car turnaround.  There are plenty of stops to catch cable cars, but this stop/turnaround is in a touristy shopping location and many street performers set up shop in the area.  This means that the longer than normal wait is eased by loads of activity.  Having ridden a cable car before (once successfully; the other time we were denied entry because I stepped on the car before it fully stopped), Conery and I could fill in some of the details.

We rode the cable car from Powell and Market to the end of the line, which was near Mason, I think.  While riding we realized, we were near Coit Tower, which was our second destination.  We also realized that we were all happy to let whim be our guide, and after a brief conversation about Irish Coffee, we made our way to the Buena Vista Cafe.  The owner of the Buena Vista perfected Irish Coffee in 1952, and they've been serving it the same way since then.  

Standing outside the BV looking
 toward the Bay

The brilliance of this drink is the creme.
It is cold and thick, which is a perfect
contrast to the hot coffee and the
insides-warming whiskey.

After a few coffees, we set out to Coit Tower.  

Statue of Christopher Columbus
in the foreground

There are murals lining the walls on the bottom floor of the tower, which depict different facets of life in San Francisco.  The murals were painted soon after the tower was completed in 1933.

I <3 City Lights Books

After taking a really cramped elevator up to the top, we walked the 37 steps to the top which is open-air.

Looking up from the viewing area

Yep, that's Alcatraz
With a visit to Coit Tower under our belt, we decided to go to Molinari's Delicatessen in North Beach (aka Little Italy) for picnic supplies.  

During the first visit to San Francisco, Conery and I happened upon Molinari's after going to City Lights Booksellers.  We picniced in Golden Gate Park.  Good times.  

Laura and Joe were up for a picnic.  So, with the Painted Ladies on our list (those are the historic, oft-photographed Victorians you see in postcards of San Francisco) we figured we'd have our picnic there in Alamo Square Park.  Molinari's hooked us up by uncorking our wine and giving us plastic cups.  

After Molinari's, we stopped by the garage and grabbed my car.  On the way to Alamo Square, we hit another must-see San Francisco landmark, Lombard Street.

Then, it was off to see the Painted Ladies and picnic.

The picnic was delish as was the company.  It's so great to spend time with friends who reaffirm why you were friends in the first place!

A trip to San Francisco is not complete without seeing Golden Gate Park and the Pacific Ocean.  Conery recently read a short story by Mark Twain to me about the Cliff House, which piqued our curiosity as well as our guests.  We drove along the Northern edge of GGP on the way to the Cliff House.  One of the deceiving things about living here is that you can see the sun setting from inland, but that sunset can be totally obscured by the time you get to the water's edge.  In the span of a half hour, we went from the blue skies you see above to the overcast, marine-layer-laden view below.

View from the Cliff House overlooking the ruins of
the Sutro Baths

Heading into the Cliff House

With the picnic lunch/dinner in our bellies, we weren't ready for dinner, but we decided to whet our whistles at the CH.  Conery and I had another Irish Coffee to round out the day; it paled in comparison to the Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista.  Note to self: only drink Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista.

Sadly, that was the end of our day together.  Gotta love friends who are up for new and exciting adventures!  Cannot wait to meet up with the Barrows again.


  1. It won't be long and we will be there as well, can't wait to see you guys.Hope Dexter is better.

  2. Excellent post, my dear! What an amazing day.

  3. Quite lovely and I feel as if I had been there. Oh wait.......I have. Love you two lots!