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TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

The Sea
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TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

Little windows of our trip are contained in a few of my previous and recent posts, but I wanted to acknowledge the unbelievable graciousness of Californians from Sonoma to Big Sur. The scenery is unique, the food is wonderful, but the welcome from the people we met will draw us back.

I'll write more here about the hotels we stayed in, public transportation, various tours we took etc. once I get some rest.

Thanks to all. You helped make our trip so memorable.

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Sonoma
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Sonoma County, CA
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The Sea
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11. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

first day: We woke up late, jet lagged. We bought a 3 day passport for transport from Susan in the hotel lobby and we headed out. I thought we'd check out Sears' restaurant next to the Chancellor but the line waiting for tables nearly went to the corner of Sutter.

We headed down to the Ferry Building instead; I was planning on exploring the farmers' market. What a beautiful day we had! The weather was stunning and we decided to have champagne and a burger at the outdoor cafe in front of the Ferry Building.

Here's the thing about San Francisco: Customer service is elevated to an art form here. People truly go out of their way to make every dining experience exceptional, even when the order is for mundane burgers and beer. Ours were delicious.

If I lived in the city I'd be at the market every weekend. Ten artichokes for $1.00?? Are you kidding me?

We walked a bit and then took a street car (maybe it was a bus, don't remember) to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. I'm glad I went. Some of the seals were in. The weather turned a bit later in the afternoon and the wind kicked up. We headed back to the hotel and made dinner plans.

A quick cab ride later and we were at Harris's Steakhouse. Go there. It was fabulous. We didn't have a reservation, but it was early enough and we were able to sit in the library- like lounge. We listened to fabulous live jazz, had a wonderful meal served by a wonderful waiter. It was a successful dinner. The hostess called for a cab and we asked to be taken back to the hotel via the scenic route. This was money well spent. Our driver drove us down Lombard (more fun than I can describe) and all over the city. We had a bird's eye view of the Presidio, the GG bridge, Chinatown, the area around the Opera house, etc. He took great care to show us the best of your city. It was a really good tour. I love cities at night. San Francisco is simply unbelievably beautiful.

Edited: 11:49 pm, April 24, 2010
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The Sea
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12. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

day 2: We woke up late again but headed down to the water again to catch a ferry to Sausalito. Now, it was lovely being on the water and the photos from the boat of the city are fabulous, but I don't think I'd recommend this as a day trip at all. The little downtown area of Sausalito is sweet, but it's basically just a strip of expensive shops with the usual tourist stuff. We weren't biking here, so we were limited to the immediate area. We walked a bit by the marina, had an ice cream cone, watched the guy stack the rocks (I suspect he's always there creating his brand of art) and we left early. It may be more informative or better to get onto a tour from S.F. that includes the GG Bridge and Sausalito but I have no direct knowledge of that. Anyway, it's always great to be on the water and the day was summerlike.

When we returned, we wandered around through the city, stepped into the Argonaut Hotel to see what that was all about, had a hot chocolate at Ghiradelli's, smashed some steamed crabs and devoured those, watched the spray painting artist and worked our way back to the hotel.

Dinner was at Scala's; the cracked pepper tagliatinni was superb. The service was also superb. San Francisco really knows how to treat its visitors.

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13. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

This is wonderful, I'm lapping it up like my kitty does cream. More, more, meow!

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14. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

I loved reading about your travels, thank you so much for the report back, it sounds like you had a great time! :)

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15. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

We can't wait to return. Perhaps a longer stay will bring clarity regarding the differences between trolleys, cable cars and street cars! ; ) . A visit to a cable car museum is in order, I see.

Day 3: We had tickets for the ferry and tour of Alcatraz; we picked up a coffee and pastry from Starbucks across the street from The Chancellor. The day was summerlike yet again! We were really lucky with the weather during our trip.

Everyone should visit Alcatraz. The audio tour was very well done and the bookstore offered some great reference materials. It's a terrible place, though, isn't it? We refer to it as Azkaban, the name of the wizard prison in the Harry Potter novels. We bought our tickets on Saturday for a Monday tour. We could have gotten Sunday tickets on Saturday but Saturday's trips were sold out quite early. If you have a specific day in mind or limited flexibility, buy your tickets online before arrival. I wanted to go when the weather was good so I waited until arrival to purchase our tickets. This worked out great for us.

After leaving Alcatraz, we picked up our rental car at Enterprise at the Nikko Hotel. It was a quick and easy drive back to The Chancellor where they valet parked the car for $30.00 a night for us. This little hotel offers so many great services.

We headed into Chinatown for a quick walk through, freshened up at the hotel and made dinner plans. We had a mediocre dinner at Cafe' Claude but wonderful appetizers at Cafe Bastille in the little alleyway of Belden Place. I'd choose Cafe' Bastille next time, the pate' sampler we had was superlative. The champagne and buy one/get one free beer wasn't a bad deal either.

Our last night in San Francisco and we spent it just walking around Union Square. We took the cable car ride one last time and prepared for the next leg of our trip: Sonoma!

Edited: 11:40 am, April 25, 2010
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The Sea
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16. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

Here's the link to my trip report of our Sonoma visit, for anyone who's interested:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33107-i555-k35811…

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17. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

And lastly: my trip report for our visit to Carmel and our last night in San Francisco:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g32172-i187-k35728…

Thanks again, everyone.

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18. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

When you come back, spend some time in the outlying neighborhoods and see places like the Haight Ashbury, Mission District, and Golden Gate Park, and have dinner or a drink at one of the places by the beach. Since your profile gives your location as The Sea, you'll probably enjoy that.

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19. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

Oh, I intend to broaden my San Francisco scope. It's a great city.

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20. Re: TR: Nicest People in the World: S.F.,Sonoma,Carmel

Here's more of our Carmel experience and our PCH trip:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g32172-i187-k35739…

Take care, all. : )

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