Last full day in San Francisco. Boooo. Man, am I going to miss this brisk, non-oppressive climate.
We headed out as a group (aka seven-headed monster) to see Lombard Street but my mom, Dave, the kids and I wound up splintering off to eat at Melt!, a European cafe and wine bar in North Beach. We had cheese in pure form (goat & Brie) as well as in fondue form. We couldn’t decide and, you know, it’s vacation. (If we weren’t walking SO much, I swear I don’t think my pants would still fit.)
After lunch, we continued on to Lombard Street, billed as “the crookedest street in the world,” to catch up with my dad. The street is famous for a steep, residential, one-block section consisting of eight tight hairpin turns. We took pictures from the bottom, climbed all 253 stairs (the Statue of Liberty has 354, by the way) and then took more pictures from the top. Though, to appreciate this street fully, you really need an aerial view. And, since renting a helicopter for this blogpost was just not in the ODNT budget, please enjoy this google image provided free of charge.
Navigating this street would make a very effective drunk driving determinant.
Oh, and we lucked out. At the top of Lombard was, not surprisingly, a cable car stop. So we pooled our cash and hopped right on one of the first ones that came by. And remember the old Rice-a-Roni commercial that gave the impression you could hang off the cable cars? Well, you can’t. The driver was very explicit about the rules of who could sit where and, while I totally get his need to ensure safety, he was kind of an ass about the whole thing. Whatever. Cable car. Check!
Did she love it? Well, sure she did. She’s 10.
We rode the cable car to the end of its line and disembarked to see Ghirardelli Square. Honestly, I was hoping for a chocolate river and some spray-tan-orange little men, but no such luck. I did see this little contraption though.
Dare me to drop something into this large vat?
It was an arm’s length from me and completely unsupervised. I considered dropping something into the chocolate like my car keys but then realized how ridiculous that idea was … because my car keys were back at the condo. Duh. And, just as I was starting to consider other options, my family called me to order ice cream. I’m not a huge fan (which I know makes me a freak in the eyes of 95% of you) so I sat and drank my complimentary water and dreamed of the baked good dessert I would have later when they were all still full from their lactose feast.
When everyone was done, my girl and I went off on our own again. We were surrounded by shops, food stands, street performers and other forms of entertainment so, naturally, we went to an oxygen bar. Honestly, it was her idea. Here’s what happened. First, they put us in the water massage coffins for about ten minutes while I crossed my fingers they weren’t stealing my wallet which was “safely secured” in a black leather box on the floor. Then, they hooked us up with oxygen masks.
I don’t think I’ve ever looked better.
Of course, much like with yesterday’s herbal foot bath experience, my girl asked the inevitable hygiene question again. “Mama … do you think these things they put in our noses get thrown away after we use them?’ (Shudder.) “I sure hope so, dude,” was all I could get out.
Now the massage and the “oxygenation” came at a low price for the two of us because she “liked our smiles” … but I’ll let you in on the racket. While she had me trapped there … literally by the nose … that aggressive little witch demonstrated no less than eight different relaxation products on my body. Microwaveable aromatherapy pads for the shoulders as well as for the lower back, two different vibrating scalp massagers, lavender eye masks, TENS units, handheld massagers, eucalyptus packs and more. So, I just sat there tethered to the oxygen and said no over and over again until she grew bored with me and descended on someone else. It was fun, I’m glad we tried it, but I’m good. Another pathetic bucket list item done.
Determined not to get sucked in by any more aggressive salespeople, my girl and I weaved through the crowd like dolphins in the wake of a ship. And we didn’t stop until we got to the sea lions at Pier 39. There were a few more today than earlier in the week.
Here we have some sort of small ad-hoc committee meeting led by one obnoxious blowhard …
… and here we have a loner sea lion who was sunning. (Gosh, I hope he was sunning.)
When we were done with the sea lions, my girl really wanted to get in a little more Chinatown trinket shopping before the end of the trip. So, we took the one-plus-mile walk to get there and, after perusing a great number of shops, she settled on the classic Chinese Panda Bear and I got a few cheap bracelets plus some fireworks (just snappers that pop when thrown at the ground) for my boy.
Satisfied and completely in love with her new bear who may or may not soon be named Buddha, my girl and I walked back to the condo to meet everyone so we could all walk to dinner together in North Beach/Little Italy. We ate at Calzone’s and picked up cannoli at a little place across the street afterwards then headed back to the condo … exhausted as usual … to pack and get ready for bed.
It’s going to be very sad leaving San Francisco. I love the city but I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to it. I’ve done nothing but sneeze and tear up since I got here. And I’m totally congested. Stupid fresh air and green living.
Since tomorrow is a travel day, I’ll be sure to write one more post about our San Francisco adventure. It’s been way hard writing about everything late in the night, after hiking up and down hills all day and usually having a little wine with dinner. Here’s your happy picture for the day – The Oakland Bay Bridge.