Wednesday, May 23, 2012

San Francisco - Day 1: Wharf / Bridge / Tonga Room

Saturday - Day One  

Here is a quick break down of the main activities for our first full day:  Double Decker Tour Bus with San Francisco Deluxe Sightseeing to Fisherman's Wharf  / Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point; Dinner at the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel; Johnny Foley's Piano Bar.

We woke up to a nice daytime view of Union Square and the shops nearby.  The biggest one in view is the humongous Macy's, complete with the most popular Cheesecake Factory on the top level. 

Huge Union Square Macy's with most popular Cheesecake Factory on the top level

After taking in the view and having some breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we headed over to Union Square to hook up with one of the double-decker bus tours.  We did not plan out specifically which double-decker tour bus company we were going to use before we arrived, but that was our plan all along. 

There were a few different bus companies running regular tours from that location.  We utilized the first one we came upon and it was $30 each and that included 2 full days of unlimited hop-on/off service.  I didn't think we'd use the second day, but we definitely did.  The majority of our first two days was spent on top of one of the double-decker busses and it really provided the best way to see the major sites around the city, while offering the ability to snap lots of good pictures along the way.  

Example of one of the buses we rode on.  Perfect weather for it!

The way the bus works is that you can hop on/off at any of their main stops, of which there are plenty along the way.  Depending on which route the bus is taking, there will either be another bus by in about 30 minutes or it may take around an hour or so.  However, there is no need to get off if you don't want to.  You can start and stop in the same location.

They have 3 main routes, the blue line Downtown San Francisco tour, the red line Golden Gate Bridge tour and the green line that goes to Golden Gate Park.  You can see their routes and map here.  On this first day we started out with the Downtown tour, followed by the Golden Gate Bridge tour.

Our main goal was to get our bearings in the city and to see all of the main areas in a short amount of time.  Then based on what we saw, we could return to any specific spots that we wanted to spend more time at.  It turned out to be perfect for that and it worked out really well.

The Downtown tour started out right by the hotel at Union Square and then goes by Chinatown, goes through the North Beach/Little Italy area, on down to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, back through their Civic Center area where all the governmental building are located and on back to Union Square.

The tour is starting, out hotel is just ahead on the left. 
Nike Store
Entrance to Chinatown
There were a ton of Italian Restaurants like this in North Beach/Little Italy
All garlic, all the time
View of Lombard Street with good camera zoom
Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf restaurants
Pier 39
There are a lot of restaurants and shops at Pier 39
The sea lions are on the docks towards the end of Pier 39
View of Alcatraz from Pier 39
Toilet?  Yes, they have a few of these self-cleaning weird toilet pod things
Toilet instructions
Boudin's Sourdough Bread at Fisherman's Wharf
Hyde Street Pier
Black Magic Voodoo Lounge
Lotus, Bentley and Lamborghini dealer...Mmm, Lambo
Civic Center Government Buildings, real gold on the top part
Right above the head is a falcon's nest, it keeps the pigeons away
Ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, I got to ride up front down below
Great view!
View from the lookout point
Back safe and sound at Union Square, after a great day of exploration
Good times!
After a great day of touring around the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, we returned to Union Square, back to our hotel and then got ready to head to dinner at the Tonga Room inside the Fairmont Hotel.  That restaurant was something we saw on one of the Anthony Bourdain shows.  He was there putting down several mighty strong drinks while watching a band float by, over what was formerly the hotel pool and it started to rain inside the restaurant!  Definitely a unique place that we just had to try out.  I recorded a video on my phone of it raining inside the restaurant, but found out it didn't record, bummer. 

It has a Polynesian/Tiki feel and there are portions of ships throughout the restaurant.  The food was ok, the restaurant itself and the drinks are definitely the draw here.  I ordered a Zombie, which was the primary drink Anthony had when he was there, only I just had one and whew, all you need is one, trust me.  Several versions of rum are in there, including 151 and by the end, that is all you taste.  The wifey ordered a similar drink and had to change it up for a Pina Colada instead, because it was so strong. 

The EXTREME uphill walk to dinner that we didn't realize we had to make
A small portion of the Tonga Room
Floating Stage at the Tonga Room
Zombie Time!
After dinner we made the trek back down. You'd think after a really strong drink and going downhill that it would be a ton easier to go down, but it's so steep that it is even a challenge doing that.

Time to head back down!
We then got back to the room and I was a bit restless and still ready to go out and do something, since it was Saturday night and only around 8:30pm and apparently that drink was affecting me more than I thought. So we ventured out and thought we were walking into an Irish pub, but ended up walking into the downstairs piano bar portion of an Irish pub instead. Which was fine, but boy were the beers pricey and they had a 2 drink minimum. We hung out for about an hour and I was making the wifey hang out until we heard a good tune and we finally just said the next one is the last song, good or bad and they did up some Sweet Caroline from Neil Diamond, the night was complete!

Sweet Caroline...bum bum bum...Good times never seemed so good...So good so good...


Jen S said...

Looks like you saw a lot in one day! When you drive across the bridge, did you sing "Ahh ahh ahh ahhhhhhh"?

Chris said...

Nope, had the RICE-A-RONI, THE SAN FRANCISCO TREAT song going through my head the whole time though. :o)

Jen said...

Looks like fun so far! No piano bar is complete without a little sweet carrrolineeee bah bah bah

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