San Francisco was reached in the early evening. The surprisingly cool weather and strong winds led to jeans and jackets being pulled out of storage before heading out for a Friday night on the town: it was Midsummer’s day after all. The first stop was a little brewpub, Woods Polk Station, which served nice little sampler glasses and tasty empanadas.
Then a couple more stops were made, first at Cresta’s, where the whimsical owneress served drinks with quite heavy amounts of spirits, and finally at Tonic, where jalapeño blueberry mojitos and other imaginative drinks abounded. The cherry on top of the evening was the old-fashioned photo booth were the travelling bunch immortalized themselves in traditional passport-sized photos. Quite a night!
The first whole day in San Francisco started with a traditional diner breakfast of omelettes, eggs Benedict and waffles at Peter D’s. Since the car was still on hand for the day, the 49 mile scenic drive around town sounded like a good idea. Great views of the Golden Gate bridge as well as park areas and interesting architecture were plentiful during the afternoon, climaxing in the view from the top of Twin Peaks.
Then it was time to finally say farewell to the Ford that had served so well over the previous 30 days. Leaving the car at the rental returns office was slighlty disqueiting, but this feeling was soon forgotten while wandering the hilly streets. Pictures were taken at the Chinatown grand gate and then it was an uphill climb to the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel, apparently the largest tiki bar in the US. With indoor thunderstorms complete with rain and drinks served in bowls, this place was definitely worth the uphill struggle.
For dinner, a small and busy Chinese restaurant, U Lee, was just the thing. Wonton soup and chop suey along with a couple good beef dishes were very tasty and kept everyone warm on the walk back to the hotel. After a short rest and adding layers of clothing, a taxi was directed to the Mikkeller Bar SF, where the rest of the evening was spent tasting good beers and giving tips on what to see and do in Finland to the waitress who was going to spend five weeks in Finland later this summer: her father is Finnish and her aunt owns Messilä. What a strange coincidence! The “Suomi discount” on the bill put smiles on everyone’s faces as well.
The next morning started with an early hotel breakfast as the day would be filled with a bus tour in wine country. The first stop on the Extranomical tour was Muir Woods, a nice peaceful forest with coastal redwoods. More big trees! Then on first to Sonoma Vallay and the Mayo winery, where a slightly scary and way too energetic hostess explained the winemaking process while offering tastes of three wines. Before more wine, a stop was made in historical Sonoma plaza for lunch, where our travellers opted for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, beer and sparkling wine from The Sonoma Cheese Factory.
The tour continued on to two wineries in Napa Valley, Madonna and Cline. Both served up good wine and interesting winemaking facts. In addition, cork screws that leave the cork intact and even make it possible to put the cork back in the bottle were demonstrated. A must-have for any home! On the way back, a stop was made at a viewpoint overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, which, we were informed, is quite unusual to see on consecutive days without any fog.
The evening was spent at City Beer Store, a nice place with daily draft beer menus and an adjoining beer shop from which one could buy beer to enjoy in the bar as well.
The following day, which would be the last in the continental US, started with a 45 minute wait to get seated at the counter in Swan Oyster Depot, a highly recommended seafood joint operating in the same place for over 100 years. Wonderful clam chowder, incredibly good blue point oysters and delicious salad with shrimp, prawns and crab meat were all worth the wait.
Then some wandering around the ups and downs of the hilly streets, enjoying some sun and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at Fisherman’s Wharf and relaxing at the hotel before heading to Zeitgeist for the evening. The bar offered yet again interesting beers and very tasty burgers. The outdoor biergarten was enjoyable until the sun went down and temperatures once again dropped, but luckily there was also room inside. The evening concluded quite early, as the next day it would be necessary to board a plane again to keep heading west.
Epicness of the workout done by walking up and down in San Francisco on The Scale of Epicness: