Tag Archive | Golden Gate Park

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: San Francisco Japanese Garden

Day 4, Thursday, March 29, 2018

On Thursday morning, we split up in the morning because Laura and Brenna wanted to try to get Alcatraz walkup tickets.  Lelani dropped them off at the Pier and came back to grab me; lucky for them they did manage to get walkup tickets and had a great time at Alcatraz!

Lelani and I went to Golden Gate Park, and while Lelani took Shaka on a walk, I went to the Japanese Garden.  I had been wanting to go to there for years, and I finally got the chance!  The San Francisco Japanese Garden is the oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States; it was originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.  The original garden was about an acre but has been expanded over time to about 5 acres.

It really is a beautiful garden.  I wandered around and looked at all the little ponds and water features, the pagodas, and the manicured shrubs.  They have a zen garden too.

There were cherry blossoms on the ornamental cherry trees that were beautiful, and the Koi in the ponds were relaxing to watch, as they swam over to see if you would feed them.  If you have a chance to go, it is absolutely worth the time.  It is a gorgeous garden!

After the Japanese Garden, we headed over to the waterfront to pick up Laura and Brenna, and then went to The Hook for fish and chips.  It was delicious – and the sun was getting hot!

Lelani wanted to try on some of the clothes we had seen the day before in Haight-Ashbury so we went back over there and found the shop again – Ambiance.  I ended up finding two cute cold-shouldered tops and was so happy with my purchases!

My new Ambiance top

What a fun day and it was only half over!

California Road Trip: Monterey

In my last post, I shared our visit to the de Young Museum and Girl with a Pearl Earring.  After our visit to the de Young, Jon and I wandered around Golden Gate Park for a little while.  We considered going into the Japanese Garden, and we wanted to, but we didn’t have very much time before we needed to be getting back on the road.  So the Japanese Garden goes on the list for next time we are in San Francisco.  I swear the list grows larger with every trip I go on!

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

After a brief delay due to not being able to figure out where the car was parked (you know you have done it too!  I just admit it!), we were back on the road.  We traveled through strip malls, business parks and suburbs for miles, on our way to Monterey.  Fortunately, the traffic through San Jose wasn’t too bad, and pretty soon we were driving through some beautiful farmland.

We arrived in Monterey and got checked into our hotel, which was right downtown.  It was about 5 pm, and the hotel desk clerk told us that there was a downtown Farmer’s Market until 7, so we checked it out.  It was amazing to see all the fresh produce available in March!  Strawberries, radishes, and lots of food stands, including freshly made donuts, pizza and Mexican food.  Wow.  If I lived in Monterey that would certainly be on my list of things to do each week!

Radishes at the Farmer's Market in Monterey

Radishes at the Farmer’s Market in Monterey

After perusing the Farmer’s Market, we wandered down to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  We were hungry for an early dinner, and we wanted to see what our options were.  I found it to be a very interesting experience.  There are a ton of restaurants on the Wharf and they all have somebody outside trying to lure you in.  They each have a big stock pot with clam chowder, and they offer you samples, trying to show you that their clam chowder is better than the next guy’s.  And they have plated meals to show you their specialties, whether it is lobster fettuccine or oyster shooters.  If you aren’t ready to commit quite yet, they pull out the free appetizer coupon…

Jon and I went all the way down to the end, assessing our options, but I was distracted – by a Sea Otter!  There was a guy swimming around in the marina, so I watched him for awhile and got a couple of photos!  I was pretty excited, because he was the first Sea Otter I saw on our trip!  There is also a dock right off of Fisherman’s Wharf where a group Sea Lions have made their home.  They were very close!  I really enjoyed watching them sun themselves on the dock and I marveled at the fact that they were able to climb on the railings of the dock.

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

Eventually I had to pull myself away so we could get some dinner.  We decided to try Rappa’s at the end of the Wharf – Jon was intrigued by the fact that they had oyster shooters.  I tried out a Carmel Wheat beer from nearby Carmel that was very good.  We started out with a half dozen oysters on the half shell – Jon got four and I had two.  They were really delicious – so fresh!  I was in the mood for steak, so I had the rib eye topped with mushrooms, with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Jon had char-grilled cod with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Our meals were very good, and it was nice to be able to just look out at the water and watch the boats and the sea lions go by.  Perfect…

Dinner at Rappa's in Monterey

Dinner at Rappa’s in Monterey

After dinner, we explored the Wharf a bit more – we poked around in a few of the souvenir shops and made a stop at Carousel Candies.  Carousel Candies specializes in salt water taffy, and has been making it since 1960.  They also make handmade chocolate and handmade caramel apples, but we were there for the taffy.  This was the best taffy we have ever had!  And Jon loves salt water taffy, so we always get some when we find it.  It was soft and chewy and stayed soft for at least a couple of weeks after we bought it!  I know that because I hid a little stash from Jon so I could have some later – I had to hide it or he would eat it all!

Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

On the way back to the hotel, we checked out some historic buildings that are part of the Monterey State Historic Park.  More on that in an upcoming post!  And we ended the evening with a view of the most beautiful moon.

The Moon in Monterey

The Moon in Monterey

San Francisco Hill Workout in the Pouring Rain (aka Part 2)

The next day, we slept in a bit and got ready. We headed out for breakfast and found a diner with some really good food, but the grumpiest waitress on the West Coast. Geez, you’d think that she had just waited 45 minutes for her breakfast!

We decided that we were going to head over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I’m not sure that I had ever been to a modern art museum, and now that we have, Jon and I both agreed to avoid them in the future. I’m not an art snob by any means, but I think that for it to be art, it needs to be something I can’t do. These exhibits were just weird. There was an exhibit of collages made with other artist’s work (kind of a Van Gogh, Starry Night decoupage kids project), a billiard table with no pockets, a canvas painted all red (I could totally do that!), and my personal favorite, a room sized piece that consisted of a white clay baby Jesus surrounded by concentric circles of black clay poodles. Really, what is the symbolism of that? Are you telling me Jesus is going to get taken down during the second coming by a hoard of rabid poodles!? Jon and I were both in agreement that traditional art and history museums are more our style. But I supposed you have to do it so you can say you have.

Baby with Poodles

We left the museum and decided to have a little adventure with public transit. It was pouring, and we wanted to go see the Haight-Ashbury district and Golden Gate Park. Bus fares in San Francisco include the return ride too! So we got on and passed by the Capitol Building with its gold leaf dome, and passed through the Mission district. We got off in Haight-Ashbury and spent some time wandering around in the shops in the area. There was a really cool used bookstore with lots of good history books. And Jon’s favorite place, at the very end of the road… the record store. Amoeba records is like the Costco of record stores. New, used, movies, they had it all. Jon was in heaven! And I was bored. But he tries his best to not make me wait too long. He got a couple of things, and then we took a walk in Golden Gate Park. Mind you, it wasn’t really all that pleasant, because it was raining, so it was a rather brief walk. Once we got on the bus going back towards the Baldwin, we got to drive by The Painted Ladies! They are as cool as they look in all the movies. If I could live there, I would totally move to San Francisco. Something tells me I can’t afford them.

Golden Gate Park Carousel

Later that afternoon, we hooked back up with Pablo, and we got to go to another record store. This one had a weird valet elevator even! After that, we roamed around looking for something to eat, and found a little Thai place with the best food. The meal was delicious and the company was good. The only bad thing was that afterwards we had to venture back out in the pouring rain. By the time we got back to the hotel, we were soaked. My coat was still somewhat wet the next day.

The last day of our trip we only had a half day in San Francisco before we had to head back to the airport for our flight home. I had been curious about the Cable Car Museum, so after we got some breakfast, we walked to it. It was pretty neat. You can stand on a platform and watch all the cables in action. Literally, there are these gigantic cables, wrapped around gigantic pulleys, and the cable cars are pulled along their tracks from this location. They also have antique cable cars on display, and displays on the history of cable cars and how they came to be in San Francisco. And this museum is free too. We did buy a couple of souvenirs in the gift shop to help support the cause.

Antique Cable Car

After having a weekend of fun, it was time to go home. Any decent vacation is always too short.

And our last day in San Francisco

On the last day of our trip to California, we decided to head into San Francisco to see an exhibit of the Impressionists at the DeYoung Museum.  The exhibit is on loan through the beginning of September, 2010 from the Musee d’Orsay in France.  They are remodeling, and were willing to let the exhibit travel.  Our flight didn’t go out until 3:45, so we had a bit of time before we had to be back at the Oakland Airport.  Of course, traffic going into downtown San Francisco was heavy, so it took us a bit of time to get to Golden Gate Park.  We got to the DeYoung at 10 am, and they still had a couple of tickets for the 10 am entry to the exhibit.  It was a timed entrance, due to the crowds, so they didn’t let too many people in at one time.  Of course, even so, it was still really crowded.  It was an amazing exhibit, though, so we tried not to let all the geriatric visitors with their oxygen tanks slow us down!

The exhibit explained how Impressionism was born, and the paintings showed the progression from a more realistic style to the style we all recognize as Impressionism.  It also explained how some of the artists in the movement did not believe themselves to be part of the Impressionist movement.  Overall, the exhibit was well worth it.  We saw some paintings that we have all seen before, like Whistler’s Mother, and some that are lesser known.  Jon and I both really loved The Magpie, by Monet.

The Magpie by Claude Monet, 1868

We had a little bit of time to tour the other exhibits, but then it was time to go.  We headed back to the Oakland Airport for our flight back home, lamenting how our vacations are always too short.