Monday, June 11, 2012

San Francisco Adventure--Day Three: Crepes, Chinatown and Cable Cars

I started out Day Three with a workout in the hotel's fitness room. The Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf had an impressively roomy fitness center on the first floor of the hotel. We've been in many that were half the size, so were pleased to find 3 treadmills, two ellipticals and one bike. They also had a fitness ball, weight bench, and free weights starting at 5lbs and up.
Afterwards, we headed back to Pier 39 for breakfast at a crepe shop J & I had spotted while making a run-through on Monday, the Crepe Cafe.
(Don't mind Travis, our travelling gnome.)  Mama & Papa W shared half of their strawberry and banana crepes with each other, while Jody opted for the breakfast crepe plus (scrambled egg, cheese, plus ham). As much as I love fruit crepes and egg & cheese anything, I chose the veggie crepe--avocado, roma tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and cheese. Every one of our crepes was delicious. Not only are the crepes amazing, but so is watching the whole process. The crepe griddles are right in the front window, so you can watch the chefs make your crepes. They make it look so easy, and it doesn't take long at all--it's almost instant deliciousness!

After breakfast, we headed for the cable cars to take a ride towards Union Square and Chinatown. We were lucky enough to get seats and spots outside of the cable car--Mama W & I were able to sit, while J & Papa W got to hang onto one of the side bars.
If you visit San Francisco and plan on taking the trolleys, cable cars, or other transportation, your best bet is to get a one, three or seven day "passport" (for $14, $21, & 27, respectively) that is good on all modes of public transportation (cable cars, streetcars, etc). Due to an accident in downtown San Francisco, we had to disembark around Washington or California Street. We headed towards downtown and happened upon part of Chinatown. We were in a section that was primarily small grocers and a handful of retail stores. The sidewalks were packed, it was reminiscent of Pittsburgh's Strip District. We were all getting a little hungry, so we headed out in search of some grub.

J & I had spotted a place in our travel book, DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 San Francisco, that we wanted to hunt down called The Irish Bank. Mama & Papa W chose to stay closer to where we had gotten off the cable car and ended up having lunch at Union Square. The Irish Bank is tucked in a little alley, so it took us a bit of searching to find it, but find it we did. After a delicious lunch (review to come later), we set off to find a cable car stop to take us back to Fisherman's Wharf.

Right at the intersection of Bush & Grant Streets, we saw this entrance to Chinatown:
This end was the more retail end of Chinatown, and I was happy to find a dress in one of the shops. We  continued on until we reached Hyde Street again and waited for a cable car. By then it was close to 5pm, and between residents and tourists, the cars were packed. For the ride home, we were unable to get an outside seat or spot on the bars to hang off of, and were inside the car behind the sliding door. All riders must stay behind the door, as the gripman needs room to work the brakes. (Learn more about the history and operation of cable cars here.) While at first I was disappointed to have to ride on the inside, it actually provided an interesting glimpse at how the cars work and how physical the job of a gripman is. I recommend both an inside and outside ride for the full experience. Luckily, as we progressed towards Fisherman's Wharf, riders got off at some hot spots like Lombard Street, and Jody & I were able to ride the rest of the way hanging onto the side rail!
This was the day of "doing our own thing", as Mama & Papa Woosh went back to the Buena Vista Cafe for dinner, and J & I headed back to Pier 39. Our eyes had spied the Swiss Louis Italian & Seafood Restaurant and thought it was just the place for us. We were seated at a table overlooking the water which also provided a good view of the sun slowly going down. I chose the gnocchi in a pesto sauce while J went for the Spaghetti Con Frutti di Mare.
Now, mind you, I am not very adventurous with food, so I couldn't look at J for a few minutes until I was sure he had eaten the little octopus. (ICK!) J gave high kudos to the sauce--he was in pasta & seafood heaven! While my gnocchi was a little over sauced, it was delicious, and the gnocchi were definitely homemade, so light and a perfect fit for the creamy pesto sauce. Our meals left us no room for dessert, though what I had seen on the dessert tray in passing looked enticing.

We enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel along the pier, the Alcatraz lighthouse blinking away. Perfect end to our last full day in San Francisco.


Coming soon: Review of lunch at The Irish Bank and Day 4: Farewell, San Francisco!

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