FROM SAN FRANCISCO
(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
San Francisco and Marin County
SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, 2007 - It was a perfect Sunday in the Bay Area. The temperatures in San Francisco were in the upper 60s, in Sausalito around 80, and in Muir Woods in the mid 70s. The air was clear as crisp. Take a look...
These were the views from my hotel room at the Fairmont Hotel on Knob Hill, the highest point in San Francisco. You can see a part of the Golden Gate bridge in the left frame, the Alcatraz in the left middle, and the Mission Hill on the right middle, with the hills behind Berkeley in the background, and the Mark Hopkins hotel on the far right.
But first things first...
When I got into the city from the airport, there was some sort of a gay parade going on which blocked several major arteries around the Civic Center (right thumbnail). There were "drag queens" galore in the streets around, though I did not catch them with my camera as I had to mind the traffic.
The Fairmont on Knob Hill looked as beautiful and festive as ever (above).
Originally built in 1903, and rebuilt after the big San Francisco earthquake in 1906, the Fairmont is one of the most elegant hotels I have ever stayed in. Its lobby (above) was last renovated about six years ago back to the original 1903 style.
The hill on which the hotel sits is so steep that the back part of it is about six stories high. All of the above pictures were taken in and around a green oasis that is also six stories above the Powell Street below. The rightmost photo shows the view down Powell Street toward the San Francisco Bay.
Straight below the hotel terrace is the University of California Club (the red brick building in the left thumbnail). And the view to the right is down Powell Street toward Union Square. The two shots on the right are of the pretty interior courtyard terrace as seen from the Powell Street side.
In the middle of the Knob Hill area is a pretty park, with the Grace (Episcopalian) Cathedral at one end (left thumbnail), the Fairmont hotel at the other. The Mark Hopkins hotel is at the corner of the square (the rightmost photo).
The left photo is a view down Mason Street from Knob Hill which should give you an idea of how steep the San Francisco streets are in this area. Right next to it is a shot taken down Sacramento Street from the Fairmont hotel, showing the parallel parking San Francisco style. Notice the front wheels always being turned toward the curb so as to act as an additional break, in case the hand break fails on these steep slopes. In fact, that's how one can tell the out-of-towner in this city. Most of the visitors struggle with this parallel parking technique, if they know about it at all.
As I headed from Know Hill toward the Union Square in pursuit of a Starbuck's store, I came across this cute scene - a San Francisco streetcar with the famous Transamerica building in the background. The next shot shows the cable car trundling down Powell Street toward Union Square. The next two shots to the right were actually taken at the Union Square. The middle right of the Macy's, and the rightmost of St. Francis, another famous downtown San Francisco hotel. This hotel has a special business sentimental value to me as it was the site of my first ever American business seminar, held there in October 1983. Since that time, of course, I have had presented many others in different parts of San Francisco, but you never forget the first one.
St. Francis was also where President Reagan and the Queen (of England) stayed during her visit to the U.S. in March 1983. I remember being perplexed about all the surrounding streets being blocked when I arrived to check into the hotel. I asked one of the cops, "is that for the Queen?" "No," he replied cheekily. "It's for the King" (referring to President Reagan). :-)
I found my Starbuck's just off the Union Square at the point where San Francisco's well-known Chinatown begins. The entrance to it is marked by the world's only "two storie-street' (left thumbnail). It was also interesting to see that this Chinatown flies the flag of Taiwan, not that of PRC (second photo from the left). This is also where one can have a close-up of the Transamerica tower (right thumbnail) which is located close to Chinatown.
After this aerobic walk through downtown San Francisco, I got back into my car and headed north, toward the Golden Gate bridge and the Marin Country (see above map).
Sunset in the City
Back at my hotel, I took a few more shots from my hotel room of the sunset in the city...
And finally, the lights of San Francisco around midnight.
SAN FRANCISCO, June 25 - After my business meetings today (Monday) in the Financial District, I visited some additional San Francisco landmarks.
A group of businessmen with whom I had my last meeting invited me to drinks at the newly renovated The Palace, which I was told was one of the old and famous city hotels. This lovely arcade is its main dining room. It reminded me of a similarly elegant dining place at Moscow's Metropol hotel near the Kremlin.
Since I was facing a very steep hill up California street...
... that I had already climbed once today (leftmost photo), I decided to take cable car, something I have not done for many years, and yet a landmark of San Francisco every bit as famous as the Golden Gate bridge or the Alcatraz. On my way up, I caught glimpses of Chinatown from two new angles (next two photos), finishing up on foot by the Ritz Carlton hotel that looked more like some sort of a Greek or Roman temple than a modern hotel.
"Top of the Mark" Sunset, "Tonga" Restaurant
After I got back to my hotel, I walked over to the Mark Hopkins hotel, and went up to the "Top of the Mark" restaurant/bar. This is the highest point in San Francisco that offers the best 360 views of the city.
Here's a selection of such views, including another sunset, this time with light fog rolling in from the Pacific. The second photo of the right is of the Fairmont Tower in which I am staying, and from which I had taken the earlier Bay and sunset pictures. Hope you agree that the "Top of the Mark" rates top marks for its views... :-)
I dined tonight at "Tonga" at the Fairmont, a Polynesian-style restaurant that features the Asian cuisine. The place even has a man-made "beach" in the middle of it. As for my drinks, I have never had a more exotic presentation of an ordinary soda. I asked for a 7-up with a lime, and the rightmost photo shows the was it looked when it was delivered. :-)
And that's all she wrote from this trip to the Bay Area.