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  • Writer's pictureBil

San Francisco

Our dear friend Diane was so excited to show us her favorite sights in San Francisco now that we are in California, so we started out early Tuesday morning driving into the city from Sunnyvale. When we arrived at Land's End a strong onshore wind was blowing the fog up the cliffs, partially obscuring the beach and rough surf. After a quick trip through the visitor center we drove up the hill to meet Maureen, Diane's long time friend for lunch at the Beach Chalet.

This venerable restaurant has been around many years and has a wonderful set of murals on the first floor depicting SF scenes from the 1930s. Our 2nd floor table had a perfect view of the beach & Pacific Ocean, and we enjoyed a delicious meal of pacific chowder, Dungeness crab cakes & miso-glazed king salmon.

Leaving the Beach Chalet we drove inland a couple miles along Golden Gate Park, parked the car, and walked to the Botanical Gardens, where there is an ongoing series called Flower Piano. At various locations throughout the gardens you will find a grand piano, with either a scheduled pianist or your garden variety (har) average citizen if the bench is open. We heard everything from classical to jazz to Elton John, and a few had an accompanist with a guitar. Very lovely and a perfect match for the amazing plants, flowers and trees.

Exiting the north side of the gardens we strolled over to the De Young art museum and went up the 144' observation tower, which gives a panoramic view of west San Francisco. Leaving the museum we looked in the entrance of the Japanese Tea Garden, then returned to the Botanical Garden and took a different path to exit nearest our vehicle.

Everyone was glad to get off our feet for a bit so Diane drove us through several neighborhoods, pointing out places of interest and buildings where she has lived in the past. I absolutely love the old Victorian architecture with the wonderful gingerbread and many colors of paint and trim. Her old stomping grounds included the Castro, so we hung out for a bit at Flore, soaking up the ambiance & sipping some cappuccinos to get revved up again.

Next we are heading downtown where we have reservations (!) at a semi-secret Tiki Bar. Rush hour is in full swing but the traffic keeps moving. After parking in a garage we cross Union Square & enter the Grand Hyatt to use the facilities. Walking towards our date with exotic tropical drinks Diane has us duck into the Cliff Hotel to view the posh Red Room - named for the gorgeous redwood paneling used extensively throughout this large space.

A few more blocks to 441 Jones finds an unassuming door with no sign and a glass fishing ball in a net hanging above. The burly gentleman inside the door checks our IDs and allows entry to Zombie Village. First impression (after a sunny street side) is lights twinkling through the dark and surf music moving in waves though the air. As our eyes adjust we can see a 2 story space with colorful ocean murals, great wooden nautical carvings and sparkling lights everywhere. We are shown to our private alcove just the right size for four where we peruse the extensive, exotic (and expensive) menu. The drinks are all hand crafted with many ingredients and clever names. I choose a Disco Banana in honor of the many Banana Banshees consumed in my late 20s. All the drinks are quite tasty - with many flavors evident and the sugar content lower than your typical Island-type libation.

Everyone feels that some solid food is in order before another drink so off we go, into the streets where the wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped considerably. We quickly spot a restaurant promising pizza and Indian fusion - and respite from the weather - so in we go. Kinara has just opened, so no wine yet. :-( Susie & Maureen order eggplant which is so spicy Susie sends it back to be tamed. Still too much for her but Maureen likes it hot and approves. Diane and I got the Masala Chicken which was delicious with just the right heat.

Day has turned to night and it is getting time to head home. We drop Maureen at her place near downtown and head back down the peninsula. It has been a most excellent day of exploring the city and visiting with old and new friends. Thank you a million times over Diane.

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