Sunday, February 4, 2018


 We celebrated my birthday with a weekend in San Francisco before visiting my Mom. We wanted to have lunch at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. Parking can be challenging year around as Saturday brings out the crowds. We found a parking lot for $25 and jumped on it.

 The Embarcadero was packed with walkers, runners, and cyclists in unseasonably fabulous weather! Coit Tower sits majestically on top of Telegraph Hill, one of the original "Seven Hills." (There are actually more than 40 hills in The City.)

 Walking on the Embarcadero toward the Ferry Building you spot the cone-shaped Salesforce Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The Tech renaissance is readily apparent in today's San Francisco with new high rises everywhere! The building boom has not made everyone happy as the Millennium Tower with it's over 400 multi-million dollar condo units, has sunk 17" and tilted 14" since its completion in 2008!

 The famous Ferry Building opened in 1898 to become the transportation portal for San Francisco. Before any of the bridges were built, the ferry was the only way to reach the City other than coming north from the Peninsula.  The 1906 earthquake and fire did little damage to the structure. The Ferry Building served people arriving by train from the east, as well as commuters from the East Bay and Marin. At its peak over 50,000  people commuted by ferry.

My Grandfather was one of those commuters.

 This 1910 photograph shows my Grandfather, in the center with his hands in his pockets, taking the ferry to San Francisco from the East Bay. My Grandmother is next to him. My great uncle is on the far right with the Bowler hat. 

 Early image of the ferry boat docks at the Ferry building.

 This 1914 image shows the hustle and bustle in front of the Ferry Building.

 I salivated as I walked past a huge line of people waiting for a sandwich at "Roli Roti" gourmet rotisserie at the Farmer's Market. The aroma of the chicken and the porchetta sandwiches was almost too much to handle! What did I do? Well, of course, I got in line!

 I chose the chicken sandwich on an incredible "Acme" roll (They make my very favorite sourdough bread!) with red and yellow bell pepper sauce, and arugula finished with rosemary sea salt. 
 We both felt it was probably the most sensational sandwich we have ever tasted! A few large seagulls thought they were quite nice as well!

The San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge was completed in 1936. My mother remembers walking it with her father on opening day! (The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937.) The picture above shows Yerba Buena Island. 
The Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-1940 was a World's Fair to Commemorate the completion of these bridges. It was built on "Treasure Island", an artificial island attached to Yerba Buena Island specifically for the exposition. 

 My Mother visited the World's Fair with her family on the ferry. She was sad when most of the ferries stopped.

 My Grandfather took this picture of the "Temple Of The Sun" at the fair.

 I love this image of the lunch counter on the Eureka ferry in 1938.

 I had my favorite cookie of all time at this vendor inside the Ferry Building Marketplace! Amazing!

 It was time to check into the Westin St. Francis across the street from the iconic Union Square. Parking tip: I parked the car in the garage under the square rather than pay the $74 a day valet fee (with the tax) at the St. Francis.

 Union Square is a wonderful area for a visit with many nice hotels, shopping, and restaurants. The famous cable car travels Powell Street next to the square.

 The Westin St. Francis is a convenient hotel in the Union Square area. It opened in 1904 and survived the1906 earthquake and fire. I use a number of travel sites to find the best rates. On this trip I used Agoda.  Since we are SPG (Starwood Preferred Guests) we were upgraded to a king room in the tower building. I recommend joining free hotel guest memberships wherever you travel to receive perks.

I must say I was very impressed with these "Peloton" bikes in the fitness center.

 For our first night's dinner we made a reservation at Gaspar Brasserie on Sutter Street, an easy walk from our hotel. Looking up Powell Street, on the left in this shot, you can see my favorite place for Swedish pancakes, Sears Fine Food.

 Marla had difficulty deciding.

 We started the evening with Kir Royales, a favorite of ours for years! We had the menu with wonderful braised short rib fritters, a fabulous Agnolotti de Canard, and a surprisingly tasty Gateau a la Carotte. So good!

Our first day in the City was fabulous! It was fun to think of all my relatives who have called San Francisco and the Bay Area home since the 19th century.
 Marla and I have many great memories of our early visits to Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Sons of Champlin concerts at the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom while in College. On this trip, we stopped to hear a street musician while walking back to the hotel.  He played some Charlie Parker for us. Click on the link:

Next week: Part 2

Images: Dick Gentry, SF Examiner, Pier 1

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