San Francisco, California

 In Honeymoon Planning

Hello Ocean City!  In honor of the 4th of July, Cassandra and I decided on a domestic Port O’ Call this week.  Our local hot spot is San Francisco.  Bizzarro World politics

 Cass and Sean at the Golden Gate Bridge

Cass and Sean at the Golden Gate Bridge

aside,  the Bay City offers a spectacular slice of Americana.  The 14th largest U.S. city, San Fran metro is home to 4.2 million people.  Settled in by the Spanish in 1776, the city was named after St. Francis of Assisi. In 1848 the California gold rush catapulted the city to prosperity.  The ensuing windfall coined the term “49er” that the local sports fans embrace.   Today San Fran is one of the wealthiest cities on earth. Gold prospectors were replaced by the dot com gurus of Silicon Valley in the late 90’s.  The roaring tech sector has pushed housing prices through the roof.  The diverse population is heavily Asian.  Community leaders are predominantly liberal and “ambisextrous” policies are en vogue.
San Fran has a lot to offer for tourists.  The Golden Gate Bridge is the most recognizable in the world.  Park benches on the southside offer picturesque photo opportunities.  On the north side of the bridge is Muir Woods National park.  Muir is home to the largest Redwood and Sequoia trees in the country.  On the southside you’ll find the charming fishing village of Sausalito. Sausalito is a Mediterranean style marina with posh botiques and dining.

The best way to the downtown area is by cable car.  The classic trams will take you up Nob Hill and down to Haight-Ashbury- birthplace of Hippie culture and home to Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.  A few blocks down are the “Painted Ladies” – a row of multi million dollar restored Victorian Homes.  The best view of the city can be taken in from the apex of Twin Peaks.  Located in the heart of the city, the Twin Peaks panoramic views capture the essence of the city.  You can’t miss AT & T Park – home of the Giants and the infamous McCovey Cove.  A few blocks from the stadium is the Wharf.  The top attraction at the wharf is Pier 39.  Pier 39 has the best seafood in the city.  Like Maryland, San Fran is also famous for its crabs.  They sell millions of Dungeness Crabs every year.  I tried a few of these dirty brown  Pacific crabs boiled in beer.  They were tasty, but are no match for the divine delight of the Maryland Blue Claw Crab.  What Pier 39 did have that amazed us was a group of clapping sea lions that frolic and roll about while you eat.  The playful critters love to whoop it up and put on a show if the opportunity for food presents itself.
We had an amazing dinner at a trendy spot called Neptunes Palace overlooking the harbour.  The deck overlooks the island of Alcatraz in the Bay.  Alcatraz was considered the most secure prison in the country during its heyday.  You can take a tour of the facility (they provide you with headphones for an audio tour) that introduces you to the famous inhabitants that served time there.  The Birdman of Alcatraz was the most famous resident.  To raise cigarette money, the Birdman (Robert Stroud) trained and sold canaries in the prison yard and wrote two books on bird diseases.  Today’s Alcatraz is a well run tourist trap.  It was put to good use in the 1996 Sean Connery film “The Rock”.
San Francisco has temperate winters and notoriously cool summers.  Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”  The cool ocean mixes with the warm California air to produce a ton of fog.  There is no bad time of year to visit San Fran.  A six-hour flight from BWI will get you there.  They are three hours ahead and Sunday afternoon 49er games kickoff at 10 am.  Crime is very low for a large city.  This is a wealthy city and everything costs nearly double what it does in Ocean City.  Its overall charm makes it well worth the visit and we rate it as our most cosmopolitan U.S. city.  Can’t say we left our hearts there, but we’ll definitely be back.  Happy Birthday America!
– The Rox

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