California 2010

September 27th – October 7th, 2010.

Our fifth trip to San Francisco.

Although never authenticated it seems, the following quote is widely attributed to novelist Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” That was certainly not the case when we landed in the city by the bay on Monday. It was hot, very hot – 93F or 34C. In fact we hit record temperatures both that Monday and the following Tuesday, I didn’t keep count after that.

We got to our hotel on Lombard and Van Ness by about 1 PM local time, so we had the full day ahead of us – the usual stroll around the pier and Ghirardelli Square, grilled chicken sandwiches at Cellar 360 (which was featured in a recent episode of Hell’s Kitchen). The next few days were spent at the zoo, China Town, Union Square, and other great sites. We spent the first four nights in the city. Dining was mostly at the fantastic Pane e Vino on Union Street – our favourite Italian restaurant. We also tried the over-hyped Luisa’s Italian Restaurant also on Union street in the beautiful shopping Cow Hollow area, but the meal, I had veal, underwhelmed us – over promise, under deliver.

We left for the Monterey Peninsula on Friday morning and spent 4 days there before returning to S.F. for two more days. We stayed in a room with a fantastic view of the bay and Pacific Ocean – at the Best Western Beach Resort (2600 Sand Dunes Drive, Monterey, CA). A good hotel although the beds weren’t particularly comfortable and the dining at their Caf? Beach Restaurant was less than memorable. We did have one good meal at Bistro Giovanni (San Carlos & 5th Ave. in Carmel). We also went back to Nico’s (San Carlos St & Ocean Ave) where the experience was disappointing this time.

On our two last trips we hadn’t visited the Carmel Mission (been there, done that). We took the time this trip to revisit and it was certainly worth it. Beautiful gardens, wonderful adobe architecture, and a great environment for photography. On the ride back from the Peninsula, if the timing is appropriate, we make it a habit of stopping at the Safeway at the Strawflower Village in Half Moon Bay. They’ll make you a great sandwich, customized to your taste with very fresh ingredients. I think I had turkey or roast beef on Italian bread, add Lay’s chips and a drink, next find yourself a nice beach for a picnic. Or if you’re into junk food, there’s a Mc Donald’s there too.