Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

“One day if I go to heaven…I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco."

Herb Cain

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

So upon leaving Las Vegas we headed on to San Francisco, picked a car up at the airport and drove out of the city to spend a few days in the gorgeous Napa Valley - a bit more about that at the end of this post.

We then headed back to San Francisco for four days exploring the city, staying at the lovely little boutique Hotel Rex where we chilled out every evening during the free wine hour (yes free wine!) in their library bar and watched old movies before heading out into the city itself.

Dark Passage in the Library Bar with Humphrey Bogart.

Dark Passage in the Library Bar with Humphrey Bogart.

San Francisco is a happy and lively city with an abundance of bars and restaurants to chose from and enjoy. 

We particularly liked Cantina and The Golden Gate Tap Room not far from our hotel (I know, I know but we were tired and didn't want to walk too far).

Pisco Sours at Cantina!

Pisco Sours at Cantina!

Peace!

Peace!

San Francisco has a number of very specific and very different neighbourhoods that each hold they own joys and intrigues!

We stopped off at the very chilled and very colourful Haight and Ashbury, probably one of my favourite parts. Here we indulged in a delicious breakfast of eggs, avocado, chicken sausage and sour dough at the excellent Pork Store Cafe!

Breakfast time in Haight!

Breakfast time in Haight!

Colourful Haight and Ashbury!

Colourful Haight and Ashbury!

Wall murals galore.

Wall murals galore.

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a browse around Fisherman's Wharf and a trip to see the sea lions who have comfortably set up home on Pier 39! This is a great area to try a sourdough bread bowl full of steaming hot seafood chowder - a must!

Fisherman's Wharf and Elmo!

Fisherman's Wharf and Elmo!

Pier 39.

Pier 39.

Sleepy seal!

Sleepy seal!

Next to Alcatraz! We chose to go on the Alcatraz night tour with Alcatraz Cruises and pre-booked this before departure as we were well advised that it can get very busy.

The boat ride across the bay is great fun in itself with amazing views both on the way in the daylight and on the way back in the dark.

Taking the night tour adds to the eerie aura and character of the island. The tour itself is incredibly well organised and informative. On arrival you are given an audio tour to follow and although I'm not usually a fan of such things this tour was spot on and very well done.

After the audio tour covering the main scope of the building, its grounds and its history there are a number of talks and experiences on offer to choose from. One that I recommend attending is the 'Sound of the Slammer' where a member of the Alcatraz team demonstrates the opening and closing of the mechanical cell doors. As they all shunt open and close again in one huge batch the eeriness is compounded and you really get a sense of what it must have been like being cooped up in those tiny cells day after day.

Alcatraz looms in the distance.

Alcatraz looms in the distance.

Arriving on State soil!

Arriving on State soil!

Inside the big clink.

Inside the big clink.

Panorama of the city from Alcatraz Island.

Panorama of the city from Alcatraz Island.

View of San Francisco by night.

View of San Francisco by night.

Backing up a bit (I probably should've put this at the beginning) we must not forget the wonderful Napa Valley.

Napa was a wonderfully relaxing experience - much needed after a good couple of weeks of city hopping. We stayed at the beautiful Meritage Hotel Resort and Spa and to be honest we didn't do an awful lot as we really needed those two days to re-boot.

The spa had a number of fantastic treatments on offer so we indulged in a facial and an amazing massage. We ate wonderful fresh tuna nicoise salad daily and watched many movies with a good dollop of wine and cheese thrown in.

I could eat this every day!

I could eat this every day!

We did visit the Artesa Winery and as you can see from the picture below, enjoyed their tasting menu with a board of cheese and biscuits in the setting sun!

Mmmm - wine and cheese time!

Mmmm - wine and cheese time!

Farewell Napa.

Farewell Napa.

... and so we said farewell to San Francisco and headed on to the next destination.

Next stop Pismo Beach and The City of Angels!