June 29th - July 2nd, 2001
In the summer of 2001 six friends hopped on a plane and ended up in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Thanks to a great airfare of $88.00 roundtrip we were all able to swing this spur of the moment vacation. We booked two rooms at the Hotel Metropolis which would serve as our home base while exploring and sight-seeing in this great city. The list of places to see was long, but our time was short. We had four days to visit the top attractions and hopefully fit in a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and a hike on the Coastal Trail. If anyone could do it, it was the six of us!
The hotel was as awesome as it appeared on the internet and we were extremely happy with our rooms. We set out to begin our adventure and we started with, you guessed it, a ride on a cable car. What would a trip to San Francisco be without a ride on the famous cable cars? At one of the stops the gripman was even nice enough to indulge us with a prolonged stop so that we could snap some photos of all of us on the trolleyÖnow thatís hospitality. Next on our list of things to do was to eat, and there is no place better then North Beach for some great Italian cuisine. One of our favorite restaurants is the Stinking Rose, a garlic loverís nirvana. After loading up on pasta and bread we headed down to Fishermanís Wharf. We descended on the shops like tourist flies and when we had purchased enough post cards and t-shirts to last a lifetime we set our sights on the produce market. I can honestly say that I have never seen such photogenic fruits and vegetables! Next was the Carousel. Dauster and Karabeener decided to take a whirl on the merry-go-round, and oh yes, Dausterís adopted pet rock Roger went for the spin as well.
The next day it was time to gear up and take a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. We rented mountain bikes from Blazing Saddles and set out on our ride. This is by far one of the best ways to experience the grandeur of this spectacular structure. There are special lanes on the bridge for bikes so it isnít a problem avoiding pedestrians. Once across the bridge we cruised down a nice, fast hill to the town of Sausalito. Everyone was exhilarated by this downhill except for Butchwacker who has now sworn off bike riding for the rest of her life. But seriously, this really is a great ride because once you are to Sausalito you just catch the ferry back to San Francisco, the ferry will take your bike for a small fee so there are no worries about climbing back up that hill to the bridge. While in Sausalito we locked up our bikes and did a little shopping. We also had lunch at a nice little restaurant called Waterfront Grill, as the name implies it has a great view overlooking the bay, not to mention great hamburgers! Later that day, back in San Francisco, we set out to see some more of the city, and I swear we must have walked almost 20 miles. We also took a city tour with Gray Line, and while it was a nice way to get familiar with where things are we do not recommend taking one. It was really kind of boring and they donít give you enough time at the stops. Especially for shutterbugs like myself and Kat, in fact we almost missed the bus when we became infatuated with the Palace of Fine Arts, it was pretty funny actually, the two of us running to catch the bus after we heard the bell ring, the rest of our group was not terribly amused however. Using a combination of walking and the bus lines is a much better way to see the sights. Also, we recommend buying a three day metro pass, this allows unlimited access to busses, cable cars, and street cars and they are very reasonably priced. This was the option that we used to see places like Coit Tower, Fishermanís Wharf, The Palace of Fine Arts, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge National Recreation Area (Japanese Garden), Haight-Ashbury District, Lombard Street, Presidio, Fort Mason, Fort Point, North Beach, and last but not least Postcard Row.
Another highlight of our visit was a trip to Alcatraz Island. This penitentiary turned National Recreation Area is a great place to visit for History Buffs, movie lovers, and the just plain curious. Audio cassettes are available in any language to guide you on a fact-filled tour of the prison. The grounds and views are really quite lovely, such a striking contrast to the starkness of prison life. Staring out across the bay to the city you canít help but wonder if the famous escapees actually pulled off the impossible. There is also a great gift shop with tons of books on the history of the prison. After spending several hours exploring the island we headed back to the city. Last on our list of things to do was a hike along a portion of the Coastal Trail. We started at the Golden Gate Bridge and hiked to Baker Beach, this beach affords great views of the bridge with waves crashing onto the shore. To read more about our hike check out our hiking website at Natural Born Hikers.
Looking back on this fantastic trip has been a great pleasure; in fact it has made us all want to visit again. We had a wonderful time in San Francisco and I am sure that we will go back again one day soon. Until then, we have our memories. To share our memories we have posted several photographs from our vacation, we hope that you enjoy them.
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