I'll skip all the boring flight stories and skip to meeting up with writteninstars and addicted2goo at the airport. By some miracle our flights arrived within about ten minutes of each other so we all were able to quickly get the hell out of there. Or, not so quickly as I was entertained by the girls trying to rangle their numerous suitcases and bags. Luckily we got a minivan cab that could accomodate all their stuff. ;p Not so fortunate, we get a cab driver who doesn't know where Scott St (our destination) is. *We* have to give him directions. Luckily I had my guide with me to assist. Yet, the guy had the nerve to get testy with us because even though we had NEVER been to the city before I gave him a major cross street rather than our own (which I didn't know) in order to give him a general sense of the direction to go and that caused him to turn left instead of right. I have to say though this was the only bad experience we had from a San Franciscoian. Or is it San Francisconite?
Finally reaching our destination, we were warmly greeted by our landlord/host David. He gave us a tour of our lovely apartment then preceeded to bring out copies of guides, maps, and a notebook full of information useful to us out of towners. After doing a bit of unpacking, David was kind enough to drive us to Trader Joe's to stock up on some food. On our way back, he asked if we minded taking a detour so he could show us some sites - specifically the view of the city from Twin Peaks. OMG, what a spectacular view. Of course, thinking we were just going out for groceries, neither WIS nor I had our cameras with us. Thankfully, A2G was prepared and she was able to snap a few shots. On our way back to the apartment we drove by the Painted Ladies. Which left me rather ho-hum since we see those bloody houses all over TV and movies.
David gave us many ideas of things to do and see while we were. So many that I never thought we'd be able too accomplish them all. I was inceredibly mistaken. While we didn't get to some of his suggestions (a few of which were simply budget busting for us), by the time we left on Wednesday we had seen more and experienced for more than we could have hoped for.
We decided to get up early and explore Tourist Trap #1 - Fisherman's Wharf. ;) This is where I say how appreciative I am that WIS brought her laptop. Sure, it was great to check e-mail and LJ, but it also proved useful in getting bus schedules. Now, I have a horrendous sense of direction, yet, somehow was manuevered into the position of leader. After far more time then I'd like to admit figuring out SF public transit, we ventured out, map and notes in hand, and sought out our bus stop. Somehow we managed to not only get on one correct bus, but two and made it to our destination without looking like the befuddled tourists we were. :)
Fisherman's Wharf is touristy, but I rather liked it. Our first site we saw was Alcatraz. We never made it out there to take a tour, which was OK by me since visiting a prison, even am abandoned one, is not my idea of fun. But, I'm also one of those people who likes to say "Yeah, I saw that." After snapping a few photos, we wandered as it was a beautiful day. We walked along the various piers before visiting the shopping epicenter. I've heard the words tacky used to describe it, but I prefer kitschy. I thought it was cute. We had lunch at one of the Boudin bread establishments since I had heard that it must be tried. It was very good and the first sourdough that I recall having that didn't taste like sourdough, if that makes any sense.
After lunch we continued walking and made our way to Pier 39 and the famous seals. They are quite amusing to watch. I enjoyed seeing the turf war between two for a bit of space on a platform. It made me wonder how bright these animals are since the seal in the water's idea of strategy was alternating coming at his foe from the left, then the right, then the left...and doing this about thirty or forty times.
We then continued walking in our search for the famed Ghirardelli Square. On our way we got distracted by the Musee Mecanique which houses historic arcade games and the rather bizarre, but you can't help but laugh at it, laughing lady as you walk in. Slip in a quarter and she cackles away. Unfortunately, we didn't have that much change on us (most of the machines are in working order, but you need quarters to activate them) so we just did a lot of looking.
Following some more walking, a spotting of the infamous Bush Man, and the nice gentleman seeing we were a bit confused offering us directions, we finally had Ghirardelli Square in our sight. Or, at least, it's big honking sign. Of course, we got distracted when I hollared out "Hey, a pirate ship!" and, with blondeheroine in mind, we stopped to take pics.
At Ghiradelli's we loaded up on candy which was an excellent idea since it was needed for snacking purposes on numerous evenings. We also tried out their sundeas which are very yummy and I'd highly recommened to anyone in the area.
Our stomachs now full and with dinner plans that evening, we headed back home. Being so adventerous that we picked up a bus at a stop other than the one we were dropped off at. Yes, we are rebels.
Dinner was at Cha Cha Cha's on Haight. We got their early, our intent to take a peak at Golden Gate Park, but WIS was quickly distracted by Amoeba Records. (Me? I was distracted by the drug deal going on outside.) I think we spent about a half hour in there though I'm sure WIS could have spent all night, time and funds permiting. We made our way back to the restaurant, left our name with the snooty host (there was about a half hour wait), and went back outside to try to figure out who amongst the throngs passing us might be the people we were suppose to be meeting. Other than ascian3 we were clueless as to what folks looked like. Luckily, thedeadlyhook spotted us. My first impreesion was that she was very cool and very tall. danceswithwords was the next to arrive. She said she'd be wearing all black, which she was, but so were many other people. So, shen she walked past us the first time and went into the restaurant I was wondering if she was she and if I should go check. She came out about five minutes or so later relizing the group of bewildered folks outide were probably her people.
We were seated at our table and wondered where the heck Ascian may be. Was she just late, stuck in traffic, or lying in a ditch? To be perfectly honest I don't recall why she was late, it either involved traffic or Robin Williams, we were just happy to see her. Dinner was fabulous (we all ordered tapas to share) and downed a pitcher of Sangria. Conversation was delightful (though sometimes hard to hear) and let me again reiterate what a trooper addicted2goo was for sitting through a lot of fandom talk over the course of a week. Following dirty looks from the wait staff, we left the restaurant and preceeded to a bar to partake in more conversation and mojitos before calling it a night to go to our respective homes.
There was much debate as to what to do on Saturday. Ascian had spent the night with us, her hubby driving in to meet up with us and pick her up. Danceswithwords (who went above and beyond chauffering us around during our time there) use to live in the Mission district and since WIS wanted to check out some shops there, we thought it best to take advantage of her knowledge of the area. We also wanted to check out Tourist Trap #2, Chinatown, and she said it was completely doable to do both that afternoon. After seeing Chinatown, I understand why. I think we spent about an hour there which was more than enough time to get a feel for the area and buy a few things. Honestly, if you're visiting SF, this area can be skipped.
In the Mission we met up with Ascian's hubby, had the best crepes I ever had for lunch, saw some interesting shops that contained pirate paraphernalia and dead mice as historical figures including a crucified Christ and the Pope. Ascian and her hubby needed to split to meet up with another friend while the rest of us retreated to the apartment to rest before joining ros_fod at a club in the Castro district that evening. So, WIS, A2G, myself, and DWW sat around gabbing for several hours. More fandom and LJ discussion and swapping really bad fanfic stories. Poor DWW was horrified to discover there is Galactica song fic.
Speaking of Galactica, we came to find out that DWW was carrying around a copy of the 'Battlestar Galactica' mini with her. It was only for emergency purposes, of course. Whether that is for a Bamber fix or converting those unaware of the show's genius (WIS and A2G), I'm not sure. Sadly, we only had about an hour and a half before we had to meet up with the others so it was decied that on Sunday we would definitely make time to watch. I had some selfish reason for this because when would be the next time I'd be able to watch with such an equally devoted fan as DWW?
To at least initiate the unknowing to Mr Bamber's
I came to realize quickly upon arriving in the city that parking is a major issue. Still, when DWW started screaming "Oh my God! Oh my God!" I was perplexed as to why. Of course, the newbies are looking for a mangled body at the side of the road. It turns out that she had just spotted a parking space one block from our destination. Or, as it would be called, rock star parking.
The Castro district was great, the club where we were meeting everyone seemed nice enough, however, the band playing sucked. And they were loud to the point I pretty much didn't understand a damn word anyone was saying. Which I wouldn't have minded so much had it not been the first time most of us were meeting ros_fod. It was determined, fairly quickly, to retreat to the apartment for conversation purposes. And to spare us from some truly dreadful music. Once we get back to the apartment, Ros regaled us with tales of 'Finding Nemo' porn she had discovered. On a more pleasent note, I found out I have some major geek cred for owning the original 'Star Wars' trilogy on laserdisc.
We had two options (courtesy of Danceswithwords) for Sunday - Monterey or Napa. Both our beautiful areas, but, blame 'Sideways', we wanted to see Napa. Since A2G *really* wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, DWW planned route to take us over it. Unfortunately, it was completely fogged in both going to and coming from Napa. Still, that and the traffic jam (seriously, we moved a tenth of a mile in thirty minutes coming home) were the only problems we encountered. The country and weather were gorgeous. Though, DWW disagreed with us on the weather. Apparently, a tiny bit of humidty and a temp of 67 qualifies as a heat wave. You spoiled Californians. :p
We stopped at the tourist bureau to get directions, buy a few souvenirs, and eat lunch at a place where the owner practically begged us to come in. Business was a bit slow for him that day. And then we were off to the winerys. We visited three, the first and most touristy being Francis Ford Coppola's. Here you can find next to a history of the vineyard, his Oscar for 'The Godfather, Part 2'. Upstairs amidst the orginal stained glass and carved wood are props from his films including the car from 'Tucker' and costumes from 'Dracula'. And though I missed it, there were copies of his DVDs for sale next to the wine. Weird, but a really lovely facility.
It seemed we had a knack for just missing the winery tours. But, while at Domaine Chandon, as we were looking at the grounds, we spotted a tour. We figured that this was the one we had just missed by about five minutes. So, we joined it. While A2G noticed that everyone on the tour was wearing stickers, I figured if it was a prviate tour that someone would say something. Uh, no. At the end of the tour (which was quite good), as the group was sitting down to their wine tasting, it was pointed out that there weren't enough seats and that a few folks must have joined the tour. That was OK, but the wine tasting was for people who had paid and that if we were interested in a tasting we'd have to go into the next room and pay. Again, we're rebels.
After the drive home that seemed like it would never end, DWW drove us down the most crooked street in SF and it's not Lombard. Was it called Victoria? I'm not certain, but, geez, the entire thing was made up of 90 degree angles, I swear. After the amusement park ride, we decided to pick up some dinner at the grocery store and settle in with same 'Battlestar Galactica' viewing. I took it as a sign as to how comfortable we all felt around DWW that we all changed into our jammies. It was quite hard to not comment on certain aspects of the mini as to not spoil WIS and A2G who we hoped would be so impressed with the mini that they would desire to watch the series. There was much tongue biting accept for an epiphany I had that I had to share with DWW. (I'll talk about that in a future BSG post. :)
I do believe, if not addicted to the show (yet ;), WIS and A2G did enjoy it even though A2G I learned is not a fan of sci-fi ( I could argue the show is not strictly sci-fi...). And let's just say *a lot* of people over the course of the week had the opportunity to be amused at me expense. Yes, I am a Lee/Laura shipper! At the same time I'm not opposed to Lee/Kara....down the road...in season 4 or something. I still don't know what's worse, the laughing or the stunned expressions. I still recall pukajen's. Oh, wait, I'm jumping ahead to Tuesday.....so, yeah, DWW and I may have converted some folks to the show assuming our shipper wars didn't ruin it for them. ;)
I think jet-lag/lack of sleep finally caught up with us. We spent a few hours perusing the shops on Fillmore St and returned to the apartment by early afternoon. Even after sleeping for several hours, none of us seemed to be able to muster much enthusiasm for doing anything that evening so it was TV viewing, internet surfing, a little more BSG watching and then off to sleep again.
On Monday, I had called thedeadlyhook to see what time she had available either that day or Tuesday since I really wanted to spend some more time with her before leaving. She was helping her hubby, toysdream, finish up some projects on Monday, but would be free all day Tuesday. The plan was to have Pukajen (who missed a wrap party to be with us - what a sweetie!) pick us up then drive over and pick up TDH who was going to give us the grand tour of Golden Gate Park. This was before we knew Jen had a two door Civic. Believe it or not we all managed to cram into the "clown car", as Jen referes to it, and I continued my streak of sitting in the middle of the back seat on trips and being told it's my own fault for being so small. :p
Goldan Gate Park is frickin' HUGE. Much bigger than Central Park I'd hazzard to guess. We did a lot of driving around, but did stop to check out the Japanese Tea Garden and walk a bit through the Arboretum (I can now say I've been to New Zealand and Chili ;). We also saw the Buffalo Paddock and the Windmills on our way out, heading to see the Presidio and the ocean. In addition to many glorious homes in the Presidio, we *think* we saw Geore Lucas's new facilities. Considering they were the only buildings that looked to have been renovated and were behind a locked fence with a bunch of warning signs, I'm levng it's a safe guess.
I have to stop and say what a magnificent tour guide Thedeadlyhook is. She recounted the history of the park to us as well as the history of just about every area we ventured into. Including pointing out the remains of the public baths located on the beach (crap, I can't recall the name of the place) which I was completely unaware of and how they came to be built and destoyed.
At one point, as we were driving , A2G asked Jen to pull over the car (I lost count of how many times Jen would pull over so we could pile in and out, she was great putting up with out touristy pursuits), but we were at a loss as to why. Then we looked over our shoulders to see.....a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge! A2G finally got her shot of it. We eventually ended up getting some better ones as we headed up the road.
We ate lunch at a nice little Italian place in North Beach and were served by a singing waiter. Well, he apparently thought he could sing. Then it was back to the apartment for more chatting until meeting up with Ascian for dinner at a Thai place. After dinner it was one last group trek back to the apartment to laugh at the scary cat book (I don't think Jen will ever be the same) and ::weeps:: say our goodbyes.
In addition to seeing so many terrific sites, I was especially happy that go to spend soooo much time with our firends. Not that I didn't already know what great people they were, but they exceeded in humor, kindness, and generosity what I already did know of them.
San Francisco was so sad to see us leave, it rained! Yes, it was the first bad day of weather we had. Somehow our flights managed to leave on time even with the fog at the airport. Now, I'm left to plot ways we all can get together again soon.