We took the cable car from directly in from of the hotel. We weren’t exactly sure how the whole system worked for tickets and everything so we basically just jumped on and had people tell us what to do. The ticket guy came up and we bought three all-day passes, since we knew we would be taking a round trip. The cars make pretty good time up the hills, and it’s really neat to ride around on a historical monument.
The ride was noisy and bouncy, especially since our hotel was only two stops from one end of the line, and we were riding all the way to the other end, Fisherman’s Wharf. We got there just before 10, and the stands and tourist traps were just opening up. It’s a pretty nice place, fresh fish great restaurants, and all the $9.99 sweatshirts that say “Alcatraz Blah Blah Blah” that you could want.
We were planning to see about getting tickets for Alcatraz, but wanted to walk along the waterfront a bit first. As it turned out, they moved the ticket pier for Alcatraz to pier 33, so we had a longer walk than expected. Once we got there, it turned out that Alcatraz was sold out for several days in advance. That sucked. They didn’t allow dogs, even in carrying bags either, so that made the point moot. We caught the Embarcadero Trolley back up the waterfront and went to Ghirardelli Square instead.
On the way there, we ran across a gallery of Salvador Dali artwork, and being fans checked it out. It was pretty huge, with some really amazing pieces, including a collection from Dali’s series on the Divine Comedy. We talked with the gallery owner a bit, and mentioned that we went to (and loved) the Dali Museum in Montmartre, Paris. He said he knew the owners of that museum, having been a Dali collector since 1972, he knew most of the major owners of Dali’s work. We chatted a bit more and thanked him and left. We crossed the street into Ghirardelli Square, which isn’t actually a Chocolate Factory anymore, but is shaped just like one. The building is historic, so only the interior gets remodeled.
The Chocolate shop is still real, and is great. We had some samples there, and found a dog store next door. They sold various items, but were primarily selling these vest/harness things called the “yap wrap”. Since Oscar is constantly choking himself on his collar, this looked like something cool to try. what is particularly interesting is that these are designed so the leash attach point is at the dog’s center of gravity. This allows you to lift the dog by the harness, without hurting him. Or, if you are like us, lift and spin the dog to use him like a compass. Quite a useful feature, if you don’t mind a little animal cruelty.
We grabbed a marvelous seafood lunch at Cioppino’s, where I had the cioppino, surprisingly. We had a flight of wines and some bread, then we walked up the boardwalk a bit and decided to take in the Aquarium. We were quite surprised at how good it was. the Seattle Aquarium is really impressive, but the San Francisco is really just as good in parts. In any case the whole underwater tube had a great collection of sharks and Sea Bass, even if their “great Octopus” is something that we would usually see on a bed of rice in Seattle. What was particularly cool was looking out the window of the aquarium and seeing another Carver mariner 3396, just like ours. it was a few years newer than ours, but otherwise identical.
After we left the aquarium we walked around to take a look. I could see that the boat was pretty much a stationary live aboard. There was a satellite dish screwed into the seats on the bow, and they built a table over the hatchway to the flybridge. ours may be older and in need of a few coats of varnish, but we give her a much better life. No boat should be tied to the dock like a prison sentence.
We headed back to the Cable car and this time I got to ride standing on the outside platform. It felt like being in a Rice-A-Roni commercial. Although it was pretty interesting experience when the other Cable car passes going the other direction. There is a reason why they tell you not to lean out.
We got back to Union Square and walked into the park, looking at the art exhibition that was ongoing. pretty nice stuff, but nothing you don’t see in a hundred other art exhibitions. We walked all the way across the park to the cafe there, and ordered some sparkling wine, espresso, and deserts. It was quite relaxing after a day of running about. We were a bit surprised that you don’t find nice places like this in Seattle, but that probably has more to do with Washington State liquor laws than the culture.
both Yulia and Sasha had been having a hard time with all the walking, mostly because they both had pretty lowsy shoes. (I of course came with Vans, so I was set for California.) we headed to the Skechers shoes store across from the hotel and got them both a pair of athletic shoes that would be better for walking so much. A lack of blisters usually helps.
Finally, before returning to the hotel, we hit the drugstore to grab a few things. While there I peered into the drinks cooler and discovered that the had BANANA FLAVORED MILK!!! for those of you who are not familiar, this is the most elusive flavor on flavored milk, and Chuck turned me and Sasha onto it long ago. We have been looking for it for quite a long time. To find it here, is pretty funny. We bought two bottles, they were sooooo good.
Yulia and Sasha continued down the block to shop at Forever 21, while I took Oscar back to the hotel room so he could poop on the carpet.
Once they got back we headed down to the lobby bar for “dinner”. One of the best things about being in a hotel is the lobby bar. At least if the hotel is good. So many of the modern hotels have lobbies that are little else than desks and promotional material. The Villa Florence is a much older design and has a wonderful lobby restaurant and bar, a view of the street, and doormen in 1920’s garb who are actually polite. The food and drink prices are good, certainly good enough to keep us from having to wander out to afford to get something to eat. They make a great Napoli-style pizza as well. Nice pate, cheese and a red wine flight made for a good evening.
All part of the best things in travel.