Friday, April 6, 2012

San Francisco with Cassie

Just returned from a wonderful vacation with my daughter, Tess and youngest granddaughter, Cassie. We had a blast, wore our selves out daily, and struggled with a few places being not as handicap friendly as indicated. But the places that were accessible were wonderful enough to more than make up for the places that were not.

We had planned a lot of places we thought would appeal to us by buying CityPass SF books. They are wonderful IF you are ambulatory and no one in your party is in a wheelchair. Many of the places and things are not accessible, or have limited accessibility.

 One of the places we had not recognized in our online searches was Pier 39. It was the best place for touristy things, complete with a carousel (double-decker even), an aquarium, fabulous restaurants, tiny food carts, fresh-baked goods, a crepe shop with outdoor tables and birds to watch, an Alcatraz shop, and spectacular viewpoints. It is 2-levels and has elevators and ramps everywhere so Cas could access all of it, and plenty of benches for me to sit down on while my body recovered from each stage of our journey. Souvenir shops of every sort, including "ThePerfect Purse" and a shop featuring all things "Hello Kitty." Our favorite thing there is the California Welcome Center on the 2nd floor. They have a wonderful staff, especially Zakhida Makhmudova. She became instant friends with our Cassie, and they bonded in no time at all.

We took a cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, very close to Alcatraz, and around the harbor area. Of course the day we scheduled turned out to be the rainiest while we were there. We think it was just trying to make us feel at home, being from the Oregon coast there is a lot of rain this time of year, too. It was interesting to hear people complaining about the weather on the warm days we were running around without coats. Low 60s feels like summer to us, so we were very happy on the sunny days, and there were plenty of those.
Our hotel, Crowne Plaza, was wonderful, the only thing we would change is it's proximity to Pier 39. It had Cassie's required hot tub, and indoor pool. The staff was wonderful and accommodating. However it was also located just south of the SF airport, which places it a long ways from where we spent most of our time.
Cassie agrees that the hot tub was nice to have, but not required if it means she could have more time on the carousel, and watching the pigeons on Pier 39. Where there were street entertainers including a balloon man, a human statue, mimes, rattle-can artists, lots of musicians, and much more to keep us entertained even on the day it rained so much.
One day we went to find the "Yoda fountain" in front of ILM (Iindustrial Light & Magic). Tess was confounded by there being a security guard (complete with gate) at the entrance, but once we discovered he, too, was a Star Wars fan we were on our way. The entrance to ILM is very subdued (having looked it up on Google Earth once I had a physical address, I recognized it instantly). The Yoda fountain not obvious from the streets nearby was a dead giveaway to me. Tess was worried about trying to get in to see the memorabilia, but I had read visitors were welcome and promptly approached a door. Just then a nice woman came out and as she passed said, go in and look around, there really are some wonderful things to see. I motioned to Tess and Cassie and I went inside. We were oohing and aaahing over the marble typewriter, then I spotted a little silver statue of R2-D2. The imposing figures of Darth Vader and Boba Fett, complete with original movie costumes, were in front of beautiful banners, between bookcases full of StarWars books and original movie props. Around the room were a number of rare and collectors books, and several new magazines. The man at the reception desk engaged Tess in a lengthy conversation about her collection of memorabilia and books, stating one of Tess's books was extremely rare, and that she was the first person he had met who had a copy (other than the one in the lobby). Tess said she would gladly move there and live in the lobby if they would allow it. She said it was like going to Mecca is for muslims, or Jerusalem for christians and jews.

Of course ILM also houses LucasArts and Lucasfilm Ltd. She now has a photo of the wall showing the three businesses being together as her banner on facebook. She had people argue with her in the past about them being separate entities, now she can say I was there, trust me they are all together.
Cassie and I also had a girls day out bonding time getting Mani/pedis done complete with cute hand painted flowers on our nails, while Tess checked out the sales at a local shopping mall.

I'm sure we all gained weight after all the wonderful food we ate. Our favorite restaurant was Elephant Bar, and we ate there the last three nights of our visit. Our waiters were very kind and our favorite waiter, Rich, was kind enough to pose with Cassie for a photo and gave her a big hug.
All in all we found the people of San Francisco to be kind, friendly, and helpful. The drivers however is another story. Tess said she swears they get their licenses by showing they know how to start their cars.

One of our favorite places is called the California Academy of Science, which is like a museum, aquarium, and zoo all rolled into one.
We had a wonderful time, Cassie and I came home with colds, but as Tess said, at least we waited until we were leaving. We definitely left pieces of our hearts in San Francisco.

No comments: