Tuesday, 29 October 2013

San Francisco Day 2

I did not want to wake up at 8am this morning but I had booked our Alcatraz tour for 10am so did not have much choice. We had planned to walk from our hotel to the pier (approximately 40min walk) but ended up taking the taxi as I put the alarm on snooze. Whoops.

Day 2 Plan
  • Alcatraz Tour
  • Explore/Rest
  • Dinner at Gary Danko (1 Michelin Star)

Alcatraz Tour
Address: Pier 33, San Francisco
For US$30, it includes your transport to and from the island via ferry, an audio tour through the prison and also includes loads of other activities. There is a theatre playing documentaries relating to Alcatraz and also presentations from the volunteer staff on the some of the prisoners and the attempted escapes. It was definitely interesting and a great experience and well worth your money. Remember to book tickets in advance as they do sell out quickly.  I booked mine online approximately 2 months before arrival.  Boarding time is 30 minutes before and gates close 5 minutes before scheduled tour time at Pier 33.
Verdict: Definitely go if you have time, highly recommended.

Address: Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Yes, we went back to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch because it was close to Pier 33 and we were ravenous. If you haven't noticed, I haven't written anything for breakfast as we only shared a corndog whilst waiting in line to board the ferry so at 2pm we were not going to go any further than necessary. As we couldn't fit in a crab sandwich yesterday, we did that today and hubby decided he wanted another clam chowder AND chili cheese fries. The crab sandwich was awesome and the clam chowder was comparable to the one at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant (meaning it was yummy) but with more clams.  Our only complaint was that the sourdough was not crispy enough, I prefer the sourdough at Boudin Sourdough Bakery.  Now to the chili cheese fries, being Australian this translated to cheese and jalapeños with fries but only when the fries arrived did it click that chili in USA means chili con carne. I really liked the layout and American diner feel of Chowder's and the fact that it wasn't overly expensive either.
Taste Test Score 7.5/10

Chowder's on Urbanspoon

We finished our lunch at around 3:00pm and decided it was too late to go back to the hotel and rest because dinner was at 5:30pm and the restaurant was located close by so we walked around instead.

Coit Tower
From Pier 39, it took approximately 17 minutes to walk up to Coit Tower located on Telegraph Hill.  It was approximately 1.2km with at least 2/3 of that distance going uphill.  It was worth the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city once you reach the bottom of the tower or top of the hill, whichever you like to call it. We didn't end up going up the tower which is US$7 admission and only admired the murals on the wall at the bottom level because we wanted to see the crooked part of Lombard Street on Russian Hill. You can drive up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower and there is ample parking.  There are also buses that take you up as well.
Verdict: Worth a visit even if you don't go up the tower.

Lombard Street (the crooked street on Russian Hill)
We headed downhill (yay!) towards the crooked part on Lombard Street which is approximately 1.2km away. Unfortunately, the joy of going downhill was replaced quickly by the dreaded uphill walk towards the crooked street. There were heaps of tourists taking photos and at the bottom of the crooked street we had a breathtaking view of the city, how far away Coit Tower is and how much of a climb we just accomplished.  We walked up the stairs on the side of the crooked street up to the top of Russian Hill so hubby can determine whether he wants to drive down the turn when we have a car in a couple of days time. Be careful of traffic as tourists like to stand in the middle of the road even when there are cars wanting to pass through. Don't be that tourist!
Verdict: A must see.

Union Street Shops
We still had some time to spare and thought we'll check out some shops that were close by, well another 1.2km down and uphill to the Union Street Shops which were unfortunately not too exciting (for me anyway).  There were small boutiques, vintage stores, cafés, restaurants, beauticians but nothing that took my fancy at that time.
Verdict: Go for something different.

Gary Danko (1 Michelin Star)
Official site: http://www.garydanko.com
Address: 800 North Point Street, San Francisco
We walked approximately 2.2km to Gary Danko and I was avoiding uphill roads like a plague.  We managed to get there without going uphill, thank goodness. We were quite underdressed for such a fancy restaurant as our original plan was to go back to the hotel and change.  As we entered we were greeted by a lovely maître d who took us to our table.  The lighting was perfect, dim but somehow the light at the table was bright enough so that my photos looked good even without a flash.  Service was impeccable! Waitstaff were professional, polite yet friendly and they watched you like hawks.  Water and bread was topped up very regularly and they came and folded your napkin as soon as you leave your seat.  Food also came out quickly which was good because I don't like waiting.  We decided on the create your own menu option, I went for the four course for $92 and hubby the three course for $78.  
Food was absolutely fantastic and I rarely come to that verdict, although there were a couple of dishes which were good but not fantastic.  The servings were quite generous, that even hubby was full which has never happened at fine dining.  Our meal came to US$200 (after tax) and included drinks which I thought was great when comparing with Perth.  Our waiter also gave us a little present as we left; a mini cheese cake wrapped in gold foil and cellophane 'for breakfast tomorrow' he said. Remember to dress up however the staff do not treat or look at you differently even if you don't.  
Taste Test Score 9/10

 Gary Danko on Urbanspoon

We walked back to our hotel which is approximately 2.5 km (30 minutes walk) and had to go uphill many times before we finally reached our destination.  I am totally exhausted. Good night. xx