Summertime means holidays for a lot of families, and this year, that includes us. We do a lot of smaller trips (and by smaller I mean within a 3-5 hr drive, and usually just for a few days), but this year, we decided it was time for a bigger family holiday. We haven’t done a “big” trip since our trip to Disneyland and San Diego just before Q’s 3rd birthday, so I figured we were long overdue. This years destination? San Francisco and San Jose, by way of the California and Oregon coasts. The drive down will have to be its own post at a later time, because I am still collecting my nerves back from it. Holy intense Batman!
Our stay in San Francisco started when we arrived at our hotel, the Sir Francis Drake. It is part of the Kimpton chain, which we’ve stayed at and loved in the past, so I had pretty high hopes for it. It is located just a few blocks from Union Square, and the cable car stops literally right in front of it. Also a bonus, if you are like me, anyways, is that there is a Starbucks right next door. Sweet! Upon pulling up to the hotel, we were greeted by the doorman, who was dressed in a traditional beefeater uniform. It was pretty cool. He got our bags loaded onto a baggage cart, and handed them off to the bellman to bring up to the room. Check-in was pretty quick, though I thought at first that the front desk agent was a little short and not as friendly as I would have expected at a Kimpton hotel, and we made our way up to our room on the 7th floor.This is a vintage hotel, so the rooms aren’t huge, but it was comfortable. The bathroom was tiny, but it did have a tub and shower, so it did the job. Just don’t try to get more than one person in there at a time or anything.
First thing I noticed was that the room wasn’t feather free. I had called the night before to confirm the reservation and make sure that there were no feather pillows in the room because of an allergy, but it must have gotten missed. I called down to the front desk, and they sent someone up pretty quickly to change the bedding for us. It was the same agent who had checked us in, and I realized, after a day in the city, that he wasn’t being rude or brusque, just efficient and not a chatty person, which is ok. When housekeeping was there changing the bed, she heard Q chatting away from his bath, and was kind enough to bring up a little kids sized animal print robe for him to use, which he adored, and was more than happy to model.
We were exhausted from a long, very hard, day of driving, and so just decided to order pizza. The bellman had recommended a local place, Uncle Vito’s Pizza, just a couple blocks from the hotel, so we called them up and M walked over to pick it up. It was pretty good- Q and I shared a small cheese pizza and M had a meat ravioli with meat sauce. Not mind blowingly good, for me at least, but it was pretty tasty. Then, after a long, intense, day of travel, it was time to hit the hay.
The next day, we decided to grab a couple of 3 day passes for the cable cars, busses and trains. Q, being under 6, was free (sweet!), and I think it was $26 for each of us. Considering one ride on the cable car is $6, this didn’t seem like too bad of a deal. We ate our breakfast in the hotel restaurant Scala, which, if I’m honest, was okay but not great by any stretch of the imagination. The service was unfriendly at best, the food was alright but pricey, and the suggested tip amount in the bill was 18%. That really bugged me. Service worthy of a minimum 18% tip had better be outstanding. Also, keep in mind that this suggested 18% was on top of the tax and additional 3% surcharge that San Fran charges. I am happy to tip well for good service, but if a place is going to recommend that I tip that much as a minimum, the service better be up to that level as well.
After breakfast we got into the line for a cable car. It didn’t look that long, but we probably waited at least 30-45 min to get on one. If you go, make sure that if you are going to ride the cable car you get there early, and are prepared for a wait. Most cars seem to take 3-6 riders on at a time, if they stop at all, so it can be quite a lengthy wait to get onto a car. You also don’t get to choose where you sit, and just kind of end up squashed in wherever there is room. Both times we took it, we ended up on the inside, and I standing. People were kind enough to make a spot on the bench for Q, so he could look out the window and enjoy the ride. I will say, riding the cable car ended up being a bit of a leg and core workout when you have to stand for the whole 30 min ride. You really need to keep your muscles engaged to keep yourself for flinging around or from falling over going up and down those steep hills. So unintentional workout for the win!
Some people DO get absolutely insane when it comes to the cable cars though, and a few times I thought that they had lost their darn minds. While waiting in line for the cars, we saw people who had absolutely zero concept of an orderly line try to shove and butt their way onto a car and get yelled at by the drivers. We saw people standing literally right in front of an oncoming, moving, cable car taking pictures. Right in the middle of the street. People arguing with the driver because “well, I wanted to sit or stand on the outside and I don’t care that someone is already there, I should be able to because I WANT to!” People literally hanging off the side of the car to get a picture or video with their camera or go-pro on a stick, with oncoming traffic or, even better, an oncoming cable car so close you could barely fit a paper pass in between them, coming. It was good for a laugh, but holy mackerel!
Stay tuned for more San Francisco adventures.