Thursday, July 31, 2008

San Francisco: Day 3

We woke up and convened at our table for breakfast. This time I slept until 6:45 and I felt rested because I slept the whole night through. Two days of walking all over town and a sleepless night tend to do that. Anyway when I got down there they decided that I would plane the next two days and all I had to do was make sure we fit the Tour de France in. I was excited because I wanted to fit everything in. This was the day I would learn it was impossible to fit everything in....

Anyway my first stop was Mission Dolores. It is the oldest intact building in San Francisco having been built in 1776. It is actually the Mission San Francisco De Asis but is also known as Mission Dolores due to a nearby creek named Arroyo de los Dolores, or "Creek of Sorrows" (info obtained from the Mission's website). So the cemetery has some important early Californians. The reason I was attracted to the site was the movie Vertigo has a scene that was shot in the cemetery and I wanted to see it for myself. The mission is very beautiful and was a fun and interesting stop.

We headed to the Golden Gate park after we left the Mission. Our bus took us down Haight street and I witnessed the legendary 60's hangout at 30 miles an hour. When we got to the park we zagged over to a little pub and watched the Tour de France. It was a little strange because the bartender seemed content to allow us to sit and watch the race without wanting us to buy anything. I tracked him down and we ordered a beer but after he delivered the beers he never came back over. We had originally thought we would go into the park have lunch at the Japanese Tea Garden and then head to the de Young museum and end the day at the Cliff House by the ocean. That was when my mom asked if they served food at the Tea Garden and I consulted my tour book and found out that they didn't. So we decided to go to the Cliff House first and eat there. So we hopped on a bus and headed there.

The Cliff House lies along the ocean and has a beautiful view. It is now just a restaurant but it had quite an interesting history as well. The first Cliff house was built in 1863 and seems to be a place of lodging that were used by some pretty prominent families. In 1881 it was sold to a man named Adolph Sutro who was a self made millionaire. He also became mayor later on. Anyway that building burned down and he spent 50,000 dollars rebuilding it into a french chateau that boasted 8 stories. He also made it accessible to the regular public by having a train come out there. That was not the only thing Sutro did with that area. He owned a fair chunk of land there and had elaborate gardens with statues (a few still remain but most have been removed) and he built an elaborate bath house. It was huge and right along the ocean boasting huge windows facing the ocean and was within walking distance of the Cliff House. Apparently the place had enough restaurants to feed 100 people at a time. Slowly interest in the Baths waned and it ended up burning down and all that is left is the foundation and a few photographs of the heyday. The Cliff House also burned down again and was rebuilt. Eventually it was given to the National Park Service and is maintained by them. Nothing has really been kept up besides the Cliff House, as I am sure rebuilding any of the other things would be cost prohibitive (more historical info at their website). Anyway we ended up having to wait to get a table in the Bistro since we demanded an ocean view. Just as I was getting irritated, and about to leave,(I was hungry and I have less patience when I am hungry) a table became available. The wait was worth it as I dined on a wonderful Caesar salad and a bowl of clam chowder. The view was also worth the wait as we watched seagulls and pelicans fly by.

Due to the time spent traveling to and from the Cliff House and the wait time at the restaurant, we had run out of time for the de Young museum. We headed to the Japanese Tea Garden and enjoyed a stroll through the grounds and a few cups of tea. It was nicely done but not quite on the scale of Portland's Japanese Garden. The painstakingly detailed gardens in Portland made this look rather quaint and cute. I still enjoyed it although I did not find as much peace as I do when I am strolling though Portland's garden. However the tea is a nice touch and was fun to sit and watch the people come by. As we left we walked past the de Young and they had two amazing structures outside. A crazy yellow glass structure and a magnificent detailed metal vase with all sorts of people, cherubs and grape vines around it. I took several pictures of the day. I did a much better job then I had the day before of documenting our travels.

Anyway after we got home I realized I was hungry so I went out. I ended up having crab and French onion soup at a restaurant called Absinthe. I ordered a cocktail there that contained the liquor that also was the name of he place. Anyway it was a nice ending to a good day.

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