Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Cruise Control

Websites and those in the travel industry have advised prospective SF travelers to see the city by the bay from the bay as the water offers spectacular sights of the city they referred to as Baghdad by the Bay.  Despite all the recommendations from tourism authorities, I stayed away from this touristy activity.

Until one day when an email from Travelzoo made me stop and say I'd like to see the city from the water.  Travelzoo is an online resource providing spectacular deals from the companies.  And in this case, the deal was for a cruise around the bay - skirting by Alcatraz, to the beautiful waterfront of the city, under the Bay Bridge and to the ballpark - the SF Giant's home, AT&T Park and then back to Pier 39.

The cruise started boarding at 6 pm on 9/03/11.  It was breezy and foggy as you can see.  It was called the HAPPY HOUR cruise.  A spread of appetizers - cheese and crackers and chips and dips - along with choice of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage was included in the price.

Come and join me as we see this beautiful city peering through the fog that envelops it while cruising this charming bay.
The boat leaving Pier 39.
We passed by the sea lions.
Got a close up look at Forbes Island, a restaurant where a water shuttle would ferry you from Pier 39 to the restaurant.  Pretty cool eh?
Coit Tower.
Fog makes Alcatraz mysterious.

I really love how the fog enhances the eerie beauty of Alcatraz.
The beautiful San Francisco waterfront.
The Ferry Building Clock Tower.  It's the first thing that greets the visitor to the city who comes in from the water.  So picturesque.

Sts Peter and Paul Church.
The Transamerica Pyramid almost drowned by the fog.
A typical sight.
Crossing under the Bay Bridge.
We are nearing AT&T ball park.  The Giants were playing that day.  We could hear the roar of the crowd from the bay.
The water outside the ballpark is named McCovey Cove after Willie McCovey - first base Hall of Famer, very popular spots for kayakers and boaters.
Time to go back. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lands End For An Afternoon

Land's End is San Francisco's rockiest and wildest coast and is part of the Golden Gate National Park. It's a good place to take a little walk and people watch.
Let's begin our little walk - take the stairs down.
Beautiful cypress trees.

We'll take that trail.
The ruins of Sutro Baths
If you are planning on visiting San Fran someday, I suggest you include Lands End in your itinerary.

I heart SF. Now I see a sign that SF hearts me too, can you see it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spanish Tapas and A Mission Walk

My birthday this year fell on a Saturday. While I never celebrate my birthdays with parties, I do go out to eat. It's a good excuse to try out restaurants.

This year I chose to have a late lunch (2 pm) at Esperpento in the Mission District. I first heard of the restaurant from a local foodie show. I am already a big fan of Spanish tapas so this was a wise choice.

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The restaurant is named Esperpento - which later after a google translate session I found to mean EYESORE in Spanish.
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It is anything but an eyesore. The aim of the restaurant in my mind is to put you in a Spanish frame of mind. There is one clock on the wall that tells the current time in Spain.
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And now for the food.
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The bread and butter basket that comes for free.
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I got a glass of sangria while it was Spanish beer for the hubs.
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I was really excited to taste ESTOFADO DE CONEJO, rabbit stew. First time to taste rabbit. And yes, it does taste like chicken. The seasoning was perfectly balanced.
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A must when going to tapas place is the patatas brava or spicy potatoes. This would be the first tapas place where they cut the potatoes chunky.
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Gambas ala plancha or grilled shrimps. Very good, but not even close to the one in Barcelona :)
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Now this one's very interesting. ESCALIVADA is its name. It's roasted eggplants, pepper, and onion and really tasty.
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The jamon serrano canape is another must have when going to a tapas place. However, this one's not my very fave.
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The CAZUELA DE PESCADO CON ALMEJAS or snapper and clams cooked in spanish sauce was really good.
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We ended up getting a side of rice to eat all those tapas, which in the end turned out one whole big meal.

After the meal we thought we'd walk off a bit of the calories and see Mission by foot. Mission District is one of the funnest places to go visit in San Francisco. If you drive by Mission Street you would feel like you are anywhere but San Francisco.

We were limited to a few blocks of Mission because the weather was getting chillier and little drops of rain start to come. We managed to enter a few shops to browse and also for my camera to work a little bit.
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Part of the Mission Street.
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This very nice building is a parking lot?
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I find this funny, interesting and so San Francisco - different cuisines coexisting happily.
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There is an alley in the Mission that's filled with graffiti, it has been covered by many blogs. I wanted to see it for myself, but this ain't it.
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As we were walking back to the car, I noticed that CHARANGA is here. It's a Costa Rican, Cuban and Puerto Rican restaurant. Will wait for another birthday to come here :)
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Couldn't help but take another pic of restaurant as we were rounding the block to get to the car.
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When we left the Mission we drove to Chinatown to buy something. I thought it was only right to go inside OLD ST. MARY'S in Chinatown to say a little Thanksgiving prayer for another birthday.
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Foggy August day in the city, what else is new.
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When our errand was completed I felt the call of nature. But you know Chinatown, they have no public restrooms. All establishments have this sign that restrooms are only for customers. So we went inside this bar and while I went to the little ladies' room my husband ordered me a drink.
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This drink.

And then we went home. The End.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fillmore Jazz Festival

Fillmore Jazz Festival is one of the mainstays of the SF street festival annual lineup and until this year I haven't been in one, which dumbfounds me truly since I make sure that I go to a street festival at least once.

And so when we found ourselves without any plans on this year's 4th of July weekend, we readily penciled in a visit to this very popular festival that draws about 90,000 people every year.

The festival is along Fillmore Street between Eddy and Jackson.

There were a lot of people, especially since the weather cooperated. It was nearly 80s that day, which is rare in SF in July.

We were there for the music and stages were set up at different intersections. We found one that was setting up for show so we stayed there and listened to the music from Latin group.
And while I was swaying to the Latin rhythm, people watching was too compelling to pass, so I let my camera work overtime.
So many beautiful people to photograph.
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Man's bffs were there too.
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It was a fun festival. Didn't taste any of the food, just the beer, because we were dining somewhere after the festival.