I've been trying to decide whether this was the best trip ever, or if it is tied with another trip--a short visit to Como Italy in 1993. Both have ice cream/gelato, water and mountain views, perfect weather. There are hills to climb and spectacular views, history, and la dolce vita.
But let's talk San Francisco.
For some reason, I didn't expect to ever visit San Francisco. The urge grew as a friend of mine wrote a screenplay about the Russians at Fort Ross, and the Chinese tong, and the gold rush. Then, of course, a good reason presented itself...a trade show.
So we landed at SFO and found our way to the BART, which took us within a good walk from our hotel in the financial district/Chinatown. Since our room wasn't ready, we had them hold our bags as we went just a block up Kearny Street for lunch at Nanking.
Everyone. evidently, knows Nanking.
We had five recommendations by the time we got there.
Lunch was fried rice with eggplant, zucchini, peas, and carrot bits.
If you want, you can order "mild," but spicy is standard.
All our fellow diners looked happy. Prices were good. We weren't that hungry, so there was much more than we could finish.
After we got our room, we noticed the heater was very noisy. We asked to be moved, and we were very happy with our room.
Then we rested for a bit before heading out to see the surrounding streets.
First we headed up Columbus Avenue, a delightful smashup of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, ice cream and pastry shops, and a few outliers like a Greek place or the famous "Stinking Rose" garlic cafe.
At Michelangelo, a barker will offer you a free appetizer, tell you about the chef, and offer to pay for your meal if you are not happy. It's a part of the atmosphere. Mangia! Well, maybe later...we just ate, after all.
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Walk some more, on an on, and you'll eventually want to turn right onto a side street like Jones and make your way to Fisherman's Wharf. Not only is it a tourist must-see, it's just plain fun! Sure, the chain restaurants have invaded, along with all the tourist schlock you'd see along any boardwalk USA, but it's a rockin' and rollin' experience. Hold onto your hat!
Walk along the waterfront, and you can tour a submarine, or a warship. We chose the submarine, because hub had never been aboard one. I had, because my grandad took me to tour one that was docked at the Navy Yard. I remember I never wanted to work aboard one! Too cramped. And I don't want a bunk over a missile.
Walk along the waterfront to Pier 39 and you will see, hear, and smell the famous sea lions that lounge, bark, burp, and gorge on their appropriated section of the waterfront.
Yes, that Ghirardelli. No, the streets don't smell like chocolate, like old HersheyLand used to. But the lines for ice cream are out the door, and you will probably be given a free mini square of chocolate/caramel if you venture inside to look. I mean buy. I mean look.
When it's getting dark, it's a little hard to tell how to stay on Columbus Avenue. It's diagonal, so at any given place where streets bisect, you'd expect to look up and see street signs. But, no. Not on Columbus Avenue, and not always everywhere else. Sometimes (only sometimes) the names of the streets appear on the concrete curb. And sometimes Columbus Avenue is called "Corso Cristoforo Columbo" (in very small letters, mind you.)
Despite this, we found our way back, and we looked up again at the dense restaurants along one of the Chinatown streets...color, noise, and smells. Awesome!