2010 Amtrak Vacation


California Zephyr

Coast Starlight

Southwest Chief

Laughlin, NV

Our San Francisco California Stay

The Plan

   We plan on spending 2 days in San Francisco, the first day will be a guided tour by Mary Peplinski(JoAnn's brother Jim's wife).   We will spend the night at there house in Fremont CA the night that we arrive.   We will then travel to the coast and drive north to San Fran the next day.

    Mary will then show us the sights by car then take us to our hotel for the night.   We will then have the next day to see the town by foot and by trolley car before we catch the Coast Starlight Train to LA.

You gotta take a picture of the bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge


Our Trip

As planned Mary played tour guide for us Thursday.  After spending the night at Jim & Mary's we headed west to the ocean then north to San Fransisco.   We passed thru some very pretty country on the way to the ocean, views that would give Leelanau a run for its money.  We stopped at a few places along the way enjoying the ocean views.One such stop was for lunch at Nick's at Rock Away Beach where we had some great food and got some good photos as well.

Pacific Ocean in front of Nick's
Took this one after eating lunch at Nick's

After lunch we contiued north to San Francisco to view the Golden Gate Bridge from the South Vista Point South which is on the San Francisco side.   Mary was going to take us over the bridge and view it from the north side but JoAnn is not a bridge person so I suggested we view it from this side.   The above photo of the bridge  was taken along with ones of Alcatraz and Angel Island from the South Vista point.   We spent a bit of time enjoying the view and the gardens and of course watching the other tourist which seemed to be mainly foreigners.

View of San Francisco
View of San Francisco from the Vista

After viewing the bridge we drove around the city seeing different sites the easy way, by car.   We drove by St. Peter an Paul Church, drove thru Chinatown and went up to the  Coit Tower for more wonderful views of the city and then down the crookest street in America(Lombard)    I am sure I missed a few things but it was a nice day of sightseeing.

From there we headed to Pier 39 for some good old fashioned tourist activities.  SHOPS SHOP AND MORE SHOPS.
Pier 39.   We strolled  around window shopping mainly, but we did manage to kick start the economy with a few purchases of most have trinkets.   We then needed to rest are feet and get a snack so we stopped in at the Crab House restaurant to validate our parking and wet are taste buds and enjoy some garlic fries.   JoAnn had a basic light beer on draught but I went for the local San Francisco Pale Ale, it was so good I had 2.   Mary had to be good and have a pop, she did have a 2 hour drive home that night.   After our snack break we headed off to do a little more window shopping on the board walk.

It was now now getting late so we headed back to the car and to the hotel to check in.   We arrived at the Comfort Inn by the Bay a little while later only to find out that I had booked us a very nice room for our 2 day stay.   I thought had gone low budget for this trip, but somehow I managed to get us a nice 2 room suite for our stay in San Francisco.   When traveling it is so nice to have that bedroom that you can close in case one of you is sleepy and one of you must check emails, your stocks or even facebook.   Yep even on vacation I do that stuff.......though I did manage to "not follow politics".

After a good night sleep in our Huge Oversived King bed..... ok after sleeping on the train it was huge to us, we went downwstairs for our free Continental Breakfast.   I chose this hotel for 3 reasons, location, free internet and free breakfast.

Today was walking tour day, so we head out of the hotel and headed north on Van Ness Ave down to the water and walked the Barbary Coast Trail to Fisherman's Wharf.  Stopping along the way first at Hyde Street Pier National Park then proceeded down Jefferson St. for 2 blocks of tourist trap shops with the occasional annoying sales person trying to lure you in.(it is part of the Barbary Trail)   Turning left on Taylor St. is the beginning of Fisherman's Wharf.   This is seafood lovers heaven as there is a row of little stands selling fresh seafood cooked to order.   As we walk along the stands toward the Wharf I notice Musee Mechanique a old fashioned penny arcade.  Of course we go in, these machines all have been restored to working order.    We spent maybe 20 minutes dropping a few quarters in these old machines then headed out the back door where in which the Submarine USS Pampanito was dock and today is a museum.  Beyond that was the WWII Liberty ship, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien was docked and is one of only two currently operational WWII Liberty ships afloat of the 2,710 built.  Both the Submarine and the Liberty Ship our open for tours.  (nice map of the the Wharf area)

 Ghirardelli Chocolates

After snapping a we photos we headed down the walk back out toward Boudin Bakery at the Wharf.   Before crossing the street we where stopped by the smile police and given stickers "I love San Francisco" he also managed to get a cash donation to a local food bank out of us.  It started sprinkling shortly after paying our "bail" to the nice man and managed to get to the bakery/gift shop/restaurant with out getting wet.  They have large glass windows into the bakery so you can watch them work.  We strolled around while it was raining outside, looking at there pricey souvenirs.

Boudin Bakery
 Boudin Bakery

As we left Boudin's it was still lightly sprinkling so we headed over to a trolley bus stop and bought tickets for a trolley bus that allowed you to get on and off the bus for a 2 hour period.   We rode the trolley bus down to the San Francisco Railway Museum/gift shop where we took refuge from the downpouring rain and bought a package of postcards.

Though still raining we venture out to cross over to the Ferry Building that house upscale shoping.   I don't recall if we bought anything, but we window shopped and I took a few pictures.   From there we headed out to catch the trolley that will take us to the Powell-Mason Line so we can ride an historic cable car on the streets of San Francisco.  We had to stand in a line, in the rain to wait for cable car to be turned around and get our seat.  The rain might have taken some of the excitement out of it, but it was still worth it all.   It was a fun ride watching the breakman control the car, even stopping once to pass something from one car to another cable car.  It finally stopped raining about the time we where getting off the cable car for a short 2-1/2 block walk down Lombard St. to our hotel for an early afternoon break.   It had only rained for about 2-3/4 hours, but that was enough to dampen our spirits slighlty.   We still had tons of fun, but the rain had altered our plans some and we did not see all that we wanted to.   Looks like we will have to go back someday.

The Ferry Building
The Ferry Building

After taking a little room break in which I searched for local joints where to go eat and have a cocktail or two we chose a spot about a ten minute walk away called Jake's Steaks because it reminded me a my old restaurant Benjamin's Cafe.   Jake's Steak was started by a former Philly native that had a goal to provide the best tasting cheesecakes in or out of Philadelphia.   Now I have never been to Philly but I make a pretty mean cheesecake myself.  Well I have to say the original with "Cheese Whiz" was fantastic.   We order a few beers, hot wings & fries to eat in-house, then we each order a foot long togo.   It was not very crowded as we had gotten there early(Happy Hour) but we enjoyed our stay.   The staff was friendly and willing to chat with us.   As watching the take-orders come in before the in-house rush, so reminded me of Benjamin's.   Once our subs where ready we headed back to the hotel, walking through the neighborhoods was also interesting.  We each ate half a sub back at the hotel and saved half for tomorrows Coast Starlight train ride southbound.

After a long day of sightseeing we called it a day early since we had to get an early morning taxi to the Amtrak Station for a 7:55 bus ride to the Jack London Square train depot in Oakland, CA.   Neither JoAnn or I are big city folks but we did thoroughly enjoy our visit to San Francisco.   We had only scheduled 2 days for this part of the trip, not thinking about the 1/2 day traveling with Mary to get there.    Between the that and the rain we really could have used one more day.

So If you plan a trip to San Francisco, allow 2 full days if not 3 or 4.                         Next portion of trip

San Francisco Photo Page