A few weeks ago, I had an e-mail from someone I'd "met" on Facebook, saying that she and her son were going to be in San Francisco and wondering if we could meet face to face. Naturally I offered to give them my San Francisco tour.
So today I drove down to the Holiday Inn, a few blocks from where I grew up, along Fisherman's Wharf and I met Nicole and Benjamin and we started our day together. Benjamin, 14, had worried that I might be an axe murderer, but I promised his mother that I would leave (most of) my knives at home.
Not only did I leave my knives at home, though, I also, unfortunately, left my camera at home, and so this report does not come with the usual collection of photos, only a few that I took with my cell phone.
It was kind of an odd day even before I left Davis, because I had received an e-mail from Char saying she had just made reserations for her and Mike, Walt and me, on a cruise in China next year and that a deposit must be made by tomorrow. We hadn't really discussed this trip, other than very peripherally. She said she would call me in an hour ("to let the shock wear off"). I e-mailed back that I would be gone, but that she should call Walt, who would be waiting for her call.
So Nicole, Benjamin and I set off on our tour, down along San Francisco's Marina, up Doyle Drive to the Presidio and down to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge, then out the Presidio through Sea Cliff (and past Robin Williams' house). As we were leaving Sea Cliff I had a call from Char, saying she had talked to Walt and that we were set and that she thought she had talked him into the extension trip to Hong Kong. While I was talking to her, Walt called, so I pulled over at a Golden Gate Bridge view spot to talk to him while Nicole and her son took some photos.
When I got off the phone, we had decided to do both the China cruise and the extension to Hong Kong. Since we hadn't even thought about China before this, that was one snap decision. It's nice that we have Char around to plan our lives for us. She does such a good job of it!
My little local tour group continued on past the Palace of the Legion of Honor down to the ocean beach and past the Cliff House. We stopped for lunch at the Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant. This place is a definite viable alternative to Greens, which is closed on Mondays. It has a spectacular ocean view and the food is quite good.
I had--what else?--Crab Louis, which was delicious. Benjamin had fish and chips that were huge and looked fantastic. For dessert I had a creme brulee while Nicole and Benjamin shared the Chalet's apparently signature "castle" dessert, which was a study in chocolate indulgence, with a pathway of chopped peanuts leading up to the castle itself.
While we ate, we tried to figure out if that animal in the parking lot was a cat or a fox. With no camera, I wasn't able to zoom in and check it close up.
When lunch was finished, we continued the tour through Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury, and up to Twin Peaks, though by this time the fog was so thick you could barely see the road, so scenic views were totally lost. But we went down the other side, and through the Castro District to Dolores Street, where I showed them the old Mission (first building built in the city), then down Market St. to Filbert and up past Davies Symphony hall, the opera house, and City Hall, up Geary St to go past the washing machine agitator that is St. Mary's Cathedral, out Geary St to Divisidero and then up and down one of the steep hills (it's always such an impressive hill that I never warn the guests that I have an ever steeper hill farther on!) and to the Palace of Fine Arts.
And then we headed for Lombard Street and the crooked street, which was totally mobbed by tourists today. Up Leavenworth St. to point out the flat where I was raised and then around again to Filbert Street, the steepest hill in the city (a 31.5% grade--there is another hill in the city which is the same steepness, but none steeper), and then down to Columbus Ave and back to their hotel.
I had a marvelous time and found Nicole and her son to be delightful people. I'm batting 1,000 with meeting friends from the Internet!
After I left them, I went home over the Golden Gate Bridge, expecting to hit pockets of rush hour traffic, since it was 5 p.m. but I didn't hit heavy traffic anywhere. I was almost disappointed, since I'm so close to finishing my latest Diana Gabaldon novel (audiobook version) and would have enjoyed being stuck in traffic for awhile!
Fortunately, I had thought to do a crock pot dinner, so I didn't have to cook after I got home. And then I had the evening free to check out the itinerary for our next trip! (Did I mention that we're going to China next May?)