These two days are the days we spent in the San Francisco area. On Sunday morning we got up early, picked up our daughter Emily, and took off for downtown San Francisco. After some confusion, (if you take the bus sightseeing tour – the bus stops are NOT clearly marked) we got onto a double-decker tour bus. The bus took us around a loop that included Fisherman’s Wharf, China town, Little Italy, The Ferry Building, etc. Leo, our tour guide was great fun. Mr. Dickens seemed most impressed.
After getting an overview of the city, we got off and walked down Fisherman’s Wharf. Our first order of business was lunch. We stopped at Lou’s Cafe and sat street-side. The fare for the day was crab bisque and clam chowder in a San Francisco sourdough bowl. YUM! We found out that even if you take sourdough starter home from here, the yeast that gives it that distinctive flavor, will not survive. It can only live in San Francisco.
After our lunch, we wandered amongst a plethora of shops, artisans, and street performers. Not to mention a pier full of sea lions!
The day was ended with a pizza dinner with Emily and her friends.
The next morning we got up bright and early to catch a boat out to Alcatraz. It was a windy crossing. Luckily Mr. Dickens is not prone to seasickness.
The buildings, stories, and history are amazing. Some of the buildings are mere ruins, but the prison cell block stands as strong as ever. A guide was kind enough to close us into a solitary cell, which was effectively creepy. We were able to see the cells where prisoners had carved away at an air vent with spoons to escape. We also saw bullet holes and grenade damage from where other prisoners attempted escape, but were caught. In the history of Alcatraz only three prisoners were unaccounted for, but it is assumed that they drowned in the rough, icy waters of San Francisco Bay.
The other fascinating story behind Alcatraz is of the 70 workers and their families that lived on the small island. Besides the warden’s house, there were apartments where the families raised their children. The children played in the shadow of the imposing high security prison. There were even extensive gardens planted there. Alcatraz means “Pelican” and it was named that because of the vast amounts of birds on the island when it was first discovered. Today Alcatraz has again become a sanctuary for birds. It was good that we took Mr. Dickens along as he has always had a fascination with visiting prisons as well as wildlife. We even met some fellow Dickens fans along the way. Charles didn’t even mind being locked in a cell for a short time.
After returning on the ferry, we had lunch in one of the many restaurants along Fisherman’s Wharf. Did you know that there are so many restaurants in San Francisco that you can eat breakfast, lunch. and dinner at a different restaurant for three years, and never have to eat at the same place twice?
Our next stop was the Maritime Museum where we learned that during the Gold Rush, over 700 sailing vessels came into the harbor. The crews abandoned the ships to find gold. Now those hundreds of ships and their cargo, are the fill under the financial district. Where else could you dig a hole, and almost certainly find buried treasure?
From downtown San Francisco we drove down scenic Route 1. The cliffs, the trees, and the beaches, were beautiful. We stopped a few times to get out and walk a bit. Our final destination was Moss Beach, which was lovely. The area is dotted with cottages. There are tons of imposing cypress trees, draped in bright green moss. Rocky cliffs lead down to the beach.
We ate at the Moss Beach Distillery which was the best dining experience so far. The Moss Beach Distillery gets it’s name from the days in which it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. It is also, reportedly haunted by the Blue Lady. There is a patio that overlooks the ocean where many come to view the sunset. The restaurant provides blankets and chairs huddled around large fire pits, where you can take food or a hot chocolate on cool nights. Unfortunately it was raining, and the fog obscured any chance of seeing the sunset, but it gives us something to look forward to the next time we visit.
After a tear filled good-bye it was time to call it a day, and the end of our time in San Francisco.