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San Francisco 3

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 26 October 2015 | Views [182]

So, a very leisurely start, we eventually left the hotel at 10.30, walked up Sutter to catch the number 2 bus as far as Fillmore then caught the 22 bus south to Grove Street to see the 'Painted Ladies', a row of houses beautifully decorated, opposite Alamo Park. There were quite a few people with the same idea, standing on the hill taking photographs and the inevitable selfies. The houses were beautiful, Victorian era buildings, survivors of the 1907 earthquake and apparently one of the most photographed sites in SF, as the dome of the old City Hall can be included in the shot.

Back down the hill to Fillmore and we walked along to Haight Street, famous in the 1960s as part of the Haight-Ashbury scene. More colourful dwellings and as we got closer to the Ashbury intersection, there were more shops dwelling on the '60's. We stopped for coffee at the Grind Cafe, apparently famous for its coffee and food. Well it was the best coffee we had had in the US, but that wasn't saying very much. On along Haight where Ruth spotted a sock shop, of all places but we did buy some Stars and Stripes socks.

Lunch beckoned, and another of Ruth's finds, the Alembic. It looked a bit spartan and the lunch menu was only 8 items, but the food was very good and the drink.... Well I had a stout, not at all like the British drink, which was really delicious and Ruth a Southern Exposure cocktail, also delicious. No dessert at this place, so we moved on. We walked on to Golden Gate Park, three miles long and half a mile wide, it's the largest park in SF, though we only walked as far as the conservatory. This oversized greenhouse contains a collection of plants from the tropics with some beautiful flowers.

Back to Haight Street where we caught a number 7 bus which took us to Divisadero Street where we changed to a number 14 to get to Castro. We hadn't realised but the Castro area seems to be the gay centre of SF. There are rainbow flags on the buildings and the intersection Castro and 18th has rainbow stripes for the pedestrian crossings. A number of shops definitely cater for gay lifestyles and there is a human rights office. The was also a dog parlour, where it was possible for dogs to have a blueberry facial!!!! We found dessert - a brownie ice cream sandwich; Ruth had the egg nog and I had the spiced pumpkin version, both very tasty.

We walked up to the Market Street intersection where we caught a streetcar (a 1950s electric tram), a bumpy ride back to downtown, Market at 5th, where we caught the cable car back up the hill to Sutter Street and our hotel. We did however have to wait over half an hour waiting for the crew to decide to run the cable car. Anyway, back to the hotel for our evening glass of wine in the hotel bar.

Ruth had found a restaurant that serves cioppino, a local fish stew, the Old Clam House. It was half an hour away by a number 9 bus - a real locals bus, judging by the occupants and their conversations. The bus stopped right across the road from the Clam House. It dates from 1861 and whilst it has been extended, the original restaurant room still exists. Very atmospheric. We started with a shot glass of clam juice then the stew; it was huge and very tasty, lots of fish, clams, mussels, squid and two large crab legs. We were given all the tools necessary to extract the meat from the crab legs, plus a bib and hand wipes. A lovely evening, but we still had to get back to the hotel. Ten minutes later the bus arrived and we were on our way.

Back to Market and 5th we walked up to catch the cable car which had arrived opposite the stop and just waited. After 15 minutes we got fed up with the wait and started to walk. As soon as we moved, so did the cable car, so a quick turn around to climb onto the car, up the hill to Sutter, once more and back to the hotel for a well earned Bacardi black.

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