Monday 10 March 2014

California: Day Seven - San Francisco

Monday morning we got off to a later start then planned, but were out of the hotel by 10:30am. It was our only full day in San Francisco and we wanted to try and see as much as we could. We made a quick stop at Starbucks, and decided to catch the cable car. There was one right out front, but people were standing around it talking to the operator. It had malfunctioned and needed to be repaired, so they were sending a bus instead. It was a nice day so Brian and I decided to walk toward Chinatown and catch a different route. The roads were a lot steeper then I had imagined – walking up and down them was definitely a workout!

We stopped in a few stores, one of which that had this awesome pink zebra print suitcase. It was only $25.00, and super cute but I didn’t want to roll it around all day so we kept walking. We caught the cable car in Chinatown and took it down to the water. We planned on buying a day pass, but when we went to buy the tickets it was a higher price then listed. The website had a day pass at being $7.00 each, the cable car stop had it as being $8.00, and the operator wanted $9.00 each. When we questioned why all the different posted prices, he got angry and told us “Buy your tickets somewhere else, I am not selling them to you.”  Um, okay, just a bit of an overreaction. Since we had already rode it – essentially for free – we figured it wasn’t worth it to get a pass as there were other methods of transportation.

We walked down to the water and stopped at the Ferry Marketplace. Aunt Honey had told me about this market and how awesome it was – and it really was. It had booths/stalls selling meats, cheeses, breads, wines and other products. If we had had a fridge in our hotel room, we would have stocked up here for dinner items, everything looked amazing. We stopped for lunch at the Wine Merchant, a storefront inside and had wine, cheese, bread, meats and hummus for lunch. It was fantastic! Everything came from the marketplace, and was incredibly fresh. The next time we are in San Francisco that will be our first stop.

Ferry Marketplace


We took a streetcar along the Embarcadero and got off at Pier 39 which is this fun tourist area. It has the aquarium, and a bunch of different shops and restaurants. We wandered around here for a few hours, looking at the various shops and enjoying the awesome weather. This is where the San Francisco Bath Salt Company is set up, so I had a lot of fun making up bags filled with all the different scents. They really are the best bath salts I have ever come across. I also made sure to find the Jelly-Belly store and get a bag of fresh jelly beans for my mom. The pier was a lot of fun and offered some great views of the bay and Alcatraz. It’s also where the Sea Lions are – so watching them was interesting.

Bread Bear!

Bath Salts

View of Alcatraz 

Sea Lions

A photo of Brian with the photos we took in a photo booth

Brian looks like an adult in a candy store!

More sea lions
We took a cab back to the hotel, and took a few minutes to swap camera batteries. Then we got our car and headed toward the Cliff House.

Here is the history of Cliff House taken from the official site –

The first Cliff House was a modest structure built in 1863 by Senator John Buckley and C. C. Butler. Captain Junius Foster eventually leased the Cliff House Restaurant from C. C. Butler and under his management wealthy San Franciscans flocked to the coast to enjoy the unique restaurant and wonderful views. The guest register bore the names of three U.S. presidents as well as prominent San Francisco families such as the Hearsts, Stanfords, and Crockers, who would drive their carriages out to Ocean Beach for horse racing and recreation.

Captain Foster renovated the Cliff House in 1868, adding a promenade and two new wings. It became the meeting place for local politicians as well as less savory citizens from the Barbary Coast. High society locals abandoned the Cliff House although it remained a favorite attraction for tourists and the less wealthy. It became known for scandalous behavior, which greatly disturbed one prominent and well-known San Franciscan. Adolph Sutro, a self-made millionaire, philanthropist, and later, mayor of San Francisco, had built his estate at Sutro Heights overlooking the Cliff House.

Sutro purchased the Cliff House in 1883 and tried unsuccessfully to manage it himself. He then leased it to Sroufe and McCrum, a local wholesale liquor company. In 1885 Sutro leased the Cliff House to J. M. Wilkins, directing him to clear out the riffraff and bring back the local families. In 1887, the Cliff House was severely damaged when the schooner Parallel, abandoned and loaded with dynamite, ran aground on the rocks below. The explosion was so powerful it was heard all over the Bay Area. A patched-up Cliff House continued to operate until 1889 when the exterior of the building was treated to a new paint job, and the interior received modern water closets and a new kitchen closer to the dining room. A chimney fire destroyed it on Christmas day in 1894.

Adolph Sutro spent $75,000 to rebuild and furnish the Cliff House in grandiose style. Fashioned after a French chateau, the second Cliff House opened in February of 1896 and boasted eight stories, four spires, and an observation tower 200 feet above sea level. Though never a hotel, it served as an elegant site for dining, dancing, and entertainment. The third floor held a photo gallery, reception room, and multiple parlors with beautiful panoramic views. The second floor held 20 private lunchrooms, an art gallery, and a gem exhibit. At ground level, there was a large dining room, parlor, bar, numerous private dining rooms, and the kitchens.

Visited by two U.S. presidents, William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as many other famous citizens of the world, the Cliff House remained a favorite of the local population. Sutro’s streetcar line and his desire to share the luxury and splendor of his new Cliff House with the general public combined to bring crowds of San Franciscans to the coast. In 1898 Adolph Sutro died after a long illness. In June of 1907 the Cliff House was leased to John Tait of Tait’s at the Beach, and seven partners. On September 7, 1907, after extensive remodelling and just prior to reopening, the most resplendent and beloved of all Cliff Houses burned to its foundation. This exquisite building had survived the 1906 earthquake only to succumb to a raging fire that destroyed it in less than two hours.”

Since then, it was rebuilt again but never as large and grand as it originally was. Now it is used as a banquet facility and restaurant, as it provides beautiful views of the bay. Brian and I spent some time walking around the different viewing areas and getting photos. The wind was freezing but it was a beautiful area.

We returned to the hotel just before rush hour began, and decided to walk around Union Square for a bit. At this point I started to regret not getting the suitcase, so Brian (being the amazing guy he is!) made the 7 block trek uphill to get it for me while I wandered around Macys. (He’s such a sweetheart!). When he returned we met for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory inside the Macy’s building.

This was awesome - we need these at home!

Our hotel
While we didn’t get to see everything San Francisco has to offer, we had a great day. With Brian’s mom living less then three hours away, we know we will be back and have the opportunity to see more of the city. It really is an incredible city, and I can’t wait to return. 

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