Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our Rainy Saturday in San Francisco

A few weekends ago the weather was dreary, but we decided to head to the city anyways. We had been wanting to do some sightseeing and we weren't going to let a little rain stop us (because it had the previous weekend).

Driving down Hyde Street toward the bay, following a trolley car...in the rain

We attempted to see the Golden Gate Bridge...

I guess there's quite a bit of construction going on around the GGB right now, but we were unaware of that before heading out. I had planned to take us to Fort Point, because it's got great views and wouldn't require us to drive over the bridge (and therefore have to pay to toll to get back into San Francisco). First, there is no good way to get through the city to the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula is super populated, and the prime real estate seems to be between the Bay Bridge and the GGB. We had to cross the Bay Bridge (paying $4/weekday $5/weekend toll to get into the city) and then drive through plenty of unique residential and shopping areas. It was urban-scenic and a fun adventure. When we got close to the GGB and found the exit for Fort Point, we were unprepared for the large amount of people who would still be sight seeing despite the weather. There were several tour buses and loads of cars. We couldn't find a spot to park and my husband kind of got us lost while looping around. G started crying because she was getting hungry, so we just scrapped the plan. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge and kept on driving....

We sipped a seriously strong Irish Coffee at Buena Vista.
So when we decided to head to the city in the rain, I googled 'things to do in San Francisco when it rains' and luckily found a list of free ideas. Now, many  'free' things in the Bay Area aren't really free because there are a lot of stipulations (such as being a resident, or going on specific days), so a lot of those didn't work for us. I did read about a little cafe that is home to the first American Irish Coffee. It's called The Buena Vista and has a great back story. My husband and I love coffee, and have a certain affinity for the Irish (including an occasional whiskey), so I knew this was the perfect stop for us! After the bridge fiasco, we headed back toward Fisherman's Wharf. We lucked out with a cheap-ish street parking spot near the cafe, which is literally a hole in the wall. The place was packed so we walked back and forth trying to find a seat. Finally a little-old-lady waitress told me that people just share seats all the time, so find a spot and sit down. My husband has a small anxiety with people, as in, he doesn't like being around a lot of people, especially ones he doesn't know in a small space. I, on the other hand, don't mind asking personal questions of people I just met. This obviously meant I would be the one to find our table-sharing victims.
I saw a young couple (probably early 30s) at a corner table, who were sitting on the inside chairs and empty plates. I politely asked them if we could share their table and the woman said sure. I apologized but stated that a waitress had told us people do that kind of thing when it's packed. The couple said they had been in our position before, and it was fine, they were even about to leave. We chatted with them for a bit and they recommended the Irish Coffee but said the food, for the price, was only so-so. They were locals who lived just a few blocks up (so I'm sure they are paying a pretty penny for that location) with their dog and had a few suggestions for us since we were new to the area.
After they left we ordered our Irish Coffees, which were delicious, but so strong I couldn't finish mine. The cream on top was the best part because it was so thick that the liquid slipped right underneath (bring a bit of cream with it) as you took a sip. My husband and I took imaginary bets on how much the drink would cost while G smiled and waved at the passerbyers, since our seat was at a perfect window for people watching. We were right 'on the money' with our guesses at $7-8 a pop. They were $7.50. When you consider the famous location and amount of Irish Whiskey in the drink...it doesn't seem as much of a highway robbery.

We ate the most delicious/divine sundae at Ghirardelli Square.

Ghirardelli Square, in my choco-lover opinion, is a must-do experience in the Bay Area. The chocolate is no longer made on sight, but you can eat your cocoa heart out at a few different locations among the shops and restaurants that make up GS. It's right on the Bay and is within walking distance of a few museums and various piers. It's also just down the street from a street car boarding location.

On our way into the gift shop, we each got a sample of the Ghirardelli squares you can find in your local stores. We didn't really look around much because I had one goal in mind: a sundae. The woman at Buena Vista said if you like ice cream, you have to go to the GS ice cream parlor. She was right. We ordered a two scoop cookie sundae--and the cookie was made with Ghiradelli chocolate. The ice cream flavors we chose were Dark Chocolate and Cookie Dough. The sundae came covered in hot fudge, whip cream, and topped with a cherry. If heaven were in a glass bowl...this was it. Some might describe it as sinful...but it's better...it's divine.
They have a small, live-action display of how the chocolate is made.
 They use that chocolate in the parlor.

We walked along Hyde Street Pier.

There are a lot of piers to explore off the Embarcadero, but the weather was so crappy, we just walked down the one nearest GS and the Buena Vista. The Hyde Street Pier is next to the Maritime Museum (pretty much a bust the day we went), and has several ships you can pay ($5) to walk on. We stuck to the pier itself and traipsed along in the rain, with the baby on my back in the Beco. At the end of the pier we could see Alcatraz and with the rainy weather, the view was especially eery.

We ate lunch on the Bay.
We had worked up an appetite with all the rainy day adventures that the sundae just couldn't hold us over. We saw a place just off Hyde Pier that had "Kids Menu" as one of the writings on the windows. G was starving, and the place looked nice, so we chose it. The menu was a bit pricey for what it was, but I supposed Capurro's is a nice seafood restaurant with a decent location. Sadly, there isn't a great view of the Bay. While it's right off the water, there's an employee parking lot behind the building. I ordered the clam chowder in a bread bowl and it was very delicious and perfect for a rain day.


  1. Looks like fun, even with the bad weather (especially Ghirardelli Square)! I would love to travel out that way one day!

  2. That looks like a lot of fun. Lots of yummy eats. :-)


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