Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Day 2: San Francisco - Crabs, Cable Cars and Cats!

Day 2 dawned bright and clear, although the weather prediction was cloudy skies and heavy rain. We might be aiming for driverless cars and bots, but weather prediction still remains the domain of the aliens.

I walked down to Union Square, a short distance from my hotel. Union Square has the grand Westin Hotel, more than a hundred years old, and one of the few buildings to have survived the big earthquake and fire of 1906. Union Square is also where all the big departmental stores and shopping is - from Macy's to Nordstrom. But for me, what was more interesting with the cable car turn table at the end of Powell Street, a unique mechanical contraption that allows the cable cars to turn around at the end of the line :)

The cable cars, of course, are a major attraction in SFO, and a ride on one is worth it - where else in American can you literally hang off the edge and be legally allowed to do that?

I took the cable car from one end to the other - near Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, the hub of tourist life in SFO. I gorged on a giant crab sandwich, which cost me a bomb and could have fed my whole family - but then I realized SFO does have a lot of homeless people (and I was reminded of the travails of Bob's master in The Street Cat Named Bob), so I carefully wrapped it up and left it for some hungry soul to pick up.

I had a couple of hours at my disposal, so I hopped aboard one of the modified cable car buses, for a short hop on hop off tour of the city.

First stop, the iconic Golden Gate bridge, arguably one of the most beautiful structures in the world (I rate it much higher than the Taj, by the way!) And yes, the pic does NO justice to it!

Passing through the beautiful Presidio neighborhood and Golden Gate park, I also spent a few minutes gawking at the imposing Palace of Fine Arts (remember where SRK marries Kajol in My Name is Khan?).

I was running out of time, and wanted to have a quick look at the other unique icon of SFO, the very, very crooked Lombard Street. It was a short walk away - but OMG, I did not account for the fact that I had to climb the steep hill first. At almost a 45 degree angle, and over a couple of kms long, the approach to the crooked section sucked out every bit of juice I had in my poor legs, used to climbing, at best, the bed! Given how steep some of the slopes are, I wonder how often the parked cars just tumble over!

Tough to capture the crookedness of the street on camera unless you break into a tall building close by, and it was significant less prettier than I last remember because SFO is just coming out a long cold winter and the flower beds lining the street are yet to bloom.

Just as I finished walking up and down the crooked street, the weather turned on the dime - the sun disappeared, and out of nowhere, we were battered by a hailstorm! It was time to catch an Uber, and get back to the hotel for the second part of the day - a mega long trip (again by Uber, costing me ~120 USD) to Napa Valley's Silverado Resort, for the Persistent Annual Sales Kickoff.

But not before I took a small detour along the way! Cat Town is this amazing cat-friendly cafe in Oakland, where you can enjoy coffee and snacks while spending time with the beautiful furry animals - for a small fee. The cats are up for adoption, and gets a steady stream of visitors, all forgetting their worldly problems for a brief moment while they become hoomans!

Do check out cattownoakland.org, and if you are in the Bay Area, do pay it a visit!

Signing off from Day 2 while munching on some dried fruits at 5:57 am on Day 4 - that's jet lag for you!

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