A Travellerspoint blog

June 3-8 San Francisco

I'D FORGOTTEN HOW MUCH I LIKE SAN FRANCISCO

sunny 20 °C

On Sunday, our our first full day in San Francisco, the sun was shining in an impossibly blue sky. There was only one place to go - down to the Bay around the Fort Mason park and Fisherman's Wharf. A lot of the Fisherman's Wharf area is really tacky but there are some well-preserved buildings there and the wonderful San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park - a collection of still-floating historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier. It is free if you just want to wander along the quay to get an up-close view of the vessels or you can buy a ticket for $5 that allows you get onto the them

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San Francisco - Maritime National Historical Park6

At Walgreens on Jones Street in the wharf area, you can purchase a 7-day MUNI pass for buses, trams and cable-cars for $27 (also 1 and 3-day passes). Otherwise, tickets cost $2 per trip

Late in the afternoon, we took a bus to near the Panhandle to see Alexis who had very kindly put us up 30 years ago when we did our original USA trip. After a couple of celebratory drinks in her beautifully-renovated 3-storey timber home, we walked a few minutes to the Herbivore vegan restaurant where excellent meals were had by all

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On Monday, there was heavy early morning rain. Undeterred, we set out for the downtown AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants were playing the Chicago Cubs (baseball). On the way, we stopped off in North Beach for great coffee and, for Ken, a famous meatball sandwich (which got the thumbs-up) at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store. Now, this baseball game was starting at 12:45 on a Monday, so who the hell would be going? Well, about 25,000 people! A great stadium next to the harbour but it has one flaw - there is no roof at all, so if it rains you get wet and if it's sunny you get burnt which usually happens on the same day in San Francisco. Anyway we saw 3 good innings before it started to rain again

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On Tuesday, we took a bus-ride downtown to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (free on the first Tuesday of every month). There are great works in there but also a lot of crap

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The return bus trip took us past Washington Square, so we jumped off and once again found ourselves in Mario's for coffee and foccacia. Steve arrived from England about 3:00pm and Kevin Patterson arrived about 11:30pm

On Wednesday, another beautiful, sunny day required that we catch the ferry from Fisherman's Wharf to Sausalito - the Golden Gate Bridge to the left of us, Alcatraz to the right of us, we fearlessly stood on the poop desk right across the bay. After a walk around the marina, we came across the Bar Bocce, a lovely place right down on the water. Back at Fisherman's Wharf, Steve (of course) decided that a corn dog was a good idea - it wasn't!

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Thursday was the day for a few "tourist" things. A ride on the cable-car, a meatball sandwich in North Beach, a climb up to Coit Tower, a late lunch in Chinatown and a look at the "Crookedest Street". In the evening we all met up with Alexis in Perry's on Union Street

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Posted by kforge 06:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

June 2 Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco

GOOD RIDDANCE

sunny 20 °C

Fort Lauderdale airport is only a few minutes drive from the beach hotels and is well organised, which is more than can be said for San Francisco airport - they did some weekend work on the runways and now have only 50% capacity, so our flight was delayed by 2 hours

The Virgin America flight ($320) across country was on a small A319 but a good flight even though it's 5 hours 40 minutes. The taxi into the Marina District from the airport was $54, a bit more than usual as there was heavy traffic

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We have rented a 3-bedroom house (+ 2 sofa-beds) just off Union Street in the Cow Hollow/Marina district. It's just a 10-minute walk down to the Bay and Union Street has dozens of bars and restaurants and good bus services. Kevin Patterson and Steve Gipson arrive on Tuesday the 5th

Posted by kforge 09:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

June 1 Siesta Key to Lake Okeechobee to Fort Lauderdale

THE MOST NON-SCENIC ROAD I'VE BEEN ON

overcast 28 °C

After a lovely evening with Steve and Diane Adams at a restaurant near our accommodation, we left early Friday morning so that we could spend some time looking around Lake Okeechobee. The road around the eastern shore is marked as scenic in the road atlas but unfortunately the lake is completely surrounded by an 8-metre high levee (and this lake is 700 square miles!) with no access points for cars. So we took a direct line to West Palm Beach, a millionaire's community right on the Atlantic - the rubbish bins were an interesting design

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From there it was just 30 miles down the coast to Fort Lauderdale, all of which was completely overdeveloped and ugly. Fort Lauderdale proved to be a truly horrible place where we had to stay as our flight to San Francisco left from there on Saturday morning. If you do have to stay there, don't stay at the Sheraton - I'm not even sure how this place carries the Sheraton name.

Posted by kforge 05:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 29-31 Siesta Village to Crescent Beach

JUST 5 MILES

semi-overcast 32 °C

A very early morning swim and back to the cottage in the hope that there would be a cancellation so we could stay on at Beach Palms. Luckily there wasn't, as we found a very luxurious place just 5 miles away at Crescent Beach at the Beach Club. After all the driving over the last 2 weeks, we decided to book in for 3 days lazing around on the beach

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Late afternoon, we tried a swim in the Gulf of Mexico but Tropical Storm Beryl was still churning up the waves, so we retired to the Boatyard Waterfront Bar & Grill just next to the bridge to the mainland and enjoyed a quiet couple of Yuengling lagers

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On Wednesday we thought it was time for a bit of culture, so we drove into Sarasota to take a look around the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and their Ca' d'Zan Venetian Gothic Mansion (the gardens are free, the buildings are $25). John Ringling was one of the owners of the very successful Ringling Brothers Circus which began touring in the 1880s. He amassed a fortune of around $200 million. He made Sarasota the circus' winter home and built the amazing Ca' d'Zan mansion (House of John) in 1926 which he and his wife subsequently left to the people of Sarasota

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Sarasota - The Ringling Ca' d'Zan Mansion3

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We then had a quick walk around the excellent historic district - actually very quick, as the temperature rose to 35C and we felt the need for our air-conditioned apartment. When we ventured back out a couple of hours later for a swim, it was still 35C and unfortunately Tropical Storm Beryl was still making the Gulf of Mexico waves pretty choppy

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Posted by kforge 11:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

May 28 Bradenton to Siesta Key

THE SARASOTA BARRIER ISLANDS

sunny 30 °C

After a few more hours of talking on Monday morning and listening to the Memorial Day speech by President Obama, we decided, on Steve and Diane's suggestion, to head for the Barrier Islands, in particular Anna Marie Island and then Siesta Key where we easily found an "efficiency" apartment just 5 metres from the beach (Beach Palms) in Siesta Village. Siesta Public Beach has been voted the #1 Beach in America and, yes, it's pretty good

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Posted by kforge 19:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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