Wednesday, March 10, 2010
San Francisco: Fisherman’s Warf, Haight-Ashbury,
Painted Ladies, the Embarcadero

Today we’re changing hotels, but we can't check in to the new hotel until 3:00. So after checking out of the Best Western, we stored our luggage with the bellman, then headed off to see more sights. The Muni Passports worked out so great yesterday, we bought three-day Passports today to use for the rest of our stay.

Alcatraz Island

Since we were already in the Fisherman’s Warf area, that seemed like a good place to start this morning, beginning with Pier 39. The good stuff: Sunbathing sea lions and great views of the Bay and Alcatraz. The bad stuff: Tacky shops, tacky restaurants, tacky attractions, and tacky tourists. I can appreciate a certain amount of tackiness, but here it’s gotten out of hand!

Lounging sea lions, Pier 39

Docked at Pier 45 are the USS Pampanito, a World War II submarine, and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a World War II liberty ship that participated in the D-Day landings. You can view them from the pier for free or go aboard for $10.

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

I had to relocate a group of Japanese tourists who were looking at the sub so that Tom could take my picture as Rosie the Riveter. I got a round of applause from the Japanese gentlemen, and then they all took turns posing as Rosie the Riveter as well.

Jana the Riveter

Also at Pier 45 is the Musée Mécanique, a collection of over 200 coin-operated musical instruments and antique arcade games in working condition. It’s free to enter and a quarter or two per game. I went through a few quarters here. A very cool museum.

Musée Mécanique

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park includes the Hyde Street Pier, an outdoor museum of historic boats. Free to walk around, $5 to go aboard. From the Hyde Street Pier we watched some crazy, thick-skinned locals swimming laps in the cold water of the Bay at Aquatic Park.

1907 Steam tug Hercules

Next we went to The Buena Vista Cafe for a couple of their world-famous Irish coffees, the best Irish coffee in the U.S.A. My friend Leslie, who lives in Santa Barbara, recommended this place, and it was a great tip! If Leslie hadn’t had a baby four days ago, she probably would have joined us. Congrats, Leslie!

After coffee, we took buses to San Francisco University and walked downhill to Haight-Ashbury. What was once the crossroads of the hippie world’s antiestablishment counterculture now has a Ben & Jerry’s on the corner. The times, they have a-changed.

Hippie Tom

The corner of Haight and Ashbury

We had lunch at Asqew Grill in the Haight, and then took photos of what was at one time the home of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. It was painted purple, but otherwise looked like all the other houses.


Caught another bus east, then got off and walked to Alamo Square Park, where we had a wonderful view of “The Painted Ladies,” six side-by-side Victorian homes painted in vibrant colors. The afternoon sun was in the perfect spot to illuminate the homes and the downtown skyline behind them.

The Painted Ladies

Next we returned to the Best Western, picked up our luggage, and rode the F-line streetcar over to the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero, where the National Court Reporters Association Midyear Conference will be held over the next few days. If not for the conference, and the resulting group rate, we would not be staying at such a grand hotel, but it’s nice for a change to see how the other half live.

Inside the Hyatt Regency

Our room at the Hyatt was very nice, on the 11th floor, with windows opening to a view of the Ferry Building and the Oakland Bridge. The high-tech minibar senses if anything in it is touched, resulting in an automatic charge to the room. (We were afraid to go near the thing!) For the first time ever, I utilized an iron in my hotel room, as my “business casual” clothing was way worse for the wear.

Our view from the Hyatt

Tonight we ate at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, 245 Front Street, just a couple of blocks from the Hyatt. Harrington’s was a happening little bar full of the after-work crowd, with great pub grub. Our burger and roast beef dinner were delish.

Oakland Bridge after dark

Continue to March 11, 2010

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