It all started here...

It all started here...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

San Francisco and Monterey

Eclipse Road Trip Day 11 - August 24, 2017 (Thursday)
San Francisco to Monterey

All of us had a good night sleep at this Holiday Inn Express. The rooms were quiet enough that we were not disrupted by any unwanted noise like the last time we were here. Breakfast was served downstairs at the lobby area with a huge room filled with guests enjoying their first meal of the day when we were there at around 8:15. Not the fanciest breakfast but they had everything that one would need to fill their stomach. From cereal, baked goods, juices, to hot items like sausage patties, eggs and bacon. They even had a couple of pancake machines that made fresh pancakes one at a time with just a push of a button. I have seen and used those waffle machines where you pour the batter on the iron and wait for it to cook plenty of times but this pancake machine was a first for me. No batter, no pouring, just the wait. It was fun demonstrating how it works to a couple of people also.

After breakfast we set out to walk up the hill to Lombard Street which is just like four blocks away. Not far but the hike up can be strenuous. MOR really didn't want to drive up the steep hill so walking it was. It was actually kind of fun to walk around the neighborhood and see the nooks and crannies that we normally do not pay notice of.

A little park hiding between some houses. Very romantic! I believe this is called Fay Park.

View of Coit Tower from Lombard Street

The famous Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. It's a "must-do" for visitors coming to San Francisco especially for first timers. We have driven down many times before but this time we decided to walk here. It was much more relaxing not having to hurry and snap photos or look for parking space.

And we got to admire the neighborhood.

After Lombard Street we walked back to Fisherman's Wharf for a day visit of the area. It had quite a different feel from the night before. Instead of the colorful neon lights, we could see more details of everything around us during the day. It was quite pleasant walking around since the weather was neither too hot nor too cold.

The Cannery

Jefferson Street

I believe this street car goes along the Embarcadero.

Seafood restaurants on Taylor Street.

Looking across Alcatraz Island through the fog.

USS Pampanito, the WWII submarine turned museum and memorial and SS Jeremiah O'Brien right behind.

Fisherman's Wharf in the morning, kind of quiet.

Pier 39

beautiful flowers!

It definitely felt more touristy in the day time and a little romantic at night.

They even had a carousel near the back.

And sea lions viewing area way at the end of the pier.

The iconic sign of Fisherman's Wharf.

Hyde Street Cable Car turntable. We were planning on taking the cable car to downtown/Chinatown in order to save parking fees but after figuring the cost, $7 per person each ride, we decided to just drive down there. The long line did not to appeal us either. After a few photos of the cable car, we then walked up to Ghirardelli and sample some chocolate before going back to the hotel and checked out. We could have park our car there until 6pm but it was time for us to head out.

Lunch in Chinatown
It was almost lunch time and we wanted to get some real Chinese food after a few days on the road. Chinatown is the perfect place! Whenever we come to Chinatown, we like to park at the parking lot under the Portsmouth Square Playground instead of parking out on the street. Their entrance is at the corner of Clay and Kearny, stay on the left lane when driving down Clay, entrance is immediately after the left turn. This parking structure is safe and there are enough parking spaces with multi-level parking. 

We wandered around this neighborhood which have not changed much in past years. First we went to the Napoleon Super Bakery (1049 Stockton Street) which was recommended by MC to get some 'pineapple buns' for a bargain. She stressed that the bargain comes when you buy four buns for $1.60, but if you just buy one or two, it's like 60 cents each. Needless to say, we bought a whole bunch and it was really a bargain! And most importantly, they were very good! The problem was, I did not know that the local ladies do not line up, they just shoved their money to the sales girls and barked out their orders. After a few minutes standing there, I finally got attention from one of the girls and put in my order successfully. Other than the 'pineapple buns' I also bought some fresh egg tarts. Oh, so good! 

As we walked, we tried to find a good place for lunch. There were just too many choices and we couldn't decide. Then, this roadside sign caught my attention. 'Crab Meal Set' for $45! It says Super Value Crab Meal Set, comes with Salt and Pepper Crab, Peking Spareribs, Beef Clay Pot, Garlic Mustard Greens and Chicken and Corn soup. Not knowing if this set will feed the five of us, MOR went down and checked. He came back up and said it was good enough for all of us. This turned out to be one memorable lunch. We will certainly remember this restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown!

The restaurant is in the basement of the building. 834 Washington Street.

Mostly local older customers, so this must be an OK place.

Crab meal menu in Chinese.

They also have the lobster meal for the same price. The items are different though. This one included Beef soup, fried chicken wings, Mongolian beef, lobster, and braised tofu. We went with the crab meal.

Chicken and corn soup, a little lacking but passable.

beef clay pot, tasty and good quantity

The meal set did not come with rice, so we ordered a plate of fried rice to share.

Peking spareribs, kind of like sweet and sour, wonderful! It was served crispy and hot instead of soggy with thick sauce.

Crab! What can I say, fresh and delicious, steaming hot! You can really taste the freshness of the crab meat.

Enjoying our wonderful lunch.

I suppose what made this a great lunch was the freshness of the food. Every dish came out hot and well-prepared. For a portion of what we paid for the dinner we had the night before, this was certainly a real bargain. We will definitely come back if we are in SF in the future. And the best part, they even validated our parking for two hours, which means parking was free for this visit in Chinatown!

As we were leaving Chinatown, the sun came out shining brightly. We figured that we may be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge better now. We usually like to take photos of the bridge from Crissy Field and that was where we headed. It was unusually busy on that day with many people jogging, riding their bikes, or walking their dogs on this beautiful day. They used to have free parking but now it's all metered but there were plenty of parking spaces available. For a couple of dollars it's still worth it to have the great view of the bridge.

Still a little foggy but better than the day before.

Looking at downtown from the beach.

After Crissy Field, we found our way back on the 101 and off we went, to Monterey. Traffic was horrendous, especially through the San Jose area, which caused us spending a couple more hours than planned for this short trip. After checking in at the Motel 6 in Seaside, we drove down to Monterey where we would have dinner in the Cannery Row area. We managed to park at the empty lot where no one was attending. After checking with the staff at Bubba Gump, he assured us that it would be OK since it was after 7 already. He said the public parking structure down the street is free parking after 7 also.

Cannery Row

Bubba Gump, Monterey
I was told that this is the original Bubba Gump and we have never been to any Bubba Gump before. This turned out to be an interesting dining experience for us. Food was OK but the service was great. Prices reasonable.

Interesting decor and lively atmosphere.

A table by the window but it was getting dark so not much to see.

MOR and SC ordered the same thing. Good choice.

I had the shrimp but this turned out to be too spicy for me.

This version was much better.

ChC's Coconut shrimp. He said it was good.

A fun evening at Bubba Gump, Monterey!

Cannery Row at night.