Benicia, California – day 3

Big adventure day today. Up early, a breakfast of granola and yogurt, a visit to the local Starbucks and Colette and I took off to Concord to find the BART station so we could ride into downtown San Fransisco (SF) without the car.

BART’s fun. I’ve only been on it once before, as I can recall, and that was in the early 90’s. From Concord it took about 50 minutes to get into the city where we got off at the Powell Station just beside a huge underground shopping center dominated by a Nordstroms.

We had a few things we wanted to accomplish but our plans were pretty loose so we could adjust as opportunities presented themselves.

The first thing we wanted to do was to ride the cable cars but at the boarding point near the Powell street BART station, there was a long queue so we decided to take a pass on it – at least for the moment. We thought we’d walk up the cable car line and see the city along that stretched and then maybe board it at the far end for a ride back.

Well, that all changed because the cable car tracks turned off north in a way that we didn’t expect and because we found ourselves getting into Chinatown which fascinated us. We never did ride the cable cars.

We walked up one street and then down the next just soaking it all up. At one shop, we stopped in and each bought a Chinese water color painting. I wasn’t giong to but when I saw the one I bought, I knew I had to have it.

At another point, we came to a park (not sure which one) where there were many people gathered. Some were doing what I took to be Falong Gong poses. On a wall were photos of people who had been beaten and I assumed these were also Falong Gong related. Women with baby strollers, old men talking and people every where. It was a great place. About 15 groups of men were playing cards on sheets of cardboard laid on park benches and I could see money exchanging hands.

Then we spied Coit Tower on Telegraph hill and decided to go for it. Whew, what a climb. But well worth it when we got to the top and looked around. Lots of photos were shot there.

Next, we walked downhill towards the waterfront and ended up walking out onto Pier 39 which is, I believe, part of what’s called “San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf”. Out on the end was an excellent Japanese Restaurant, “Hana Zen”, that I thought was going to have really high prices given its location. Not so! We were given a beautiful window-side table annd the food was reasonably priced and the service excellent. Recommended.

We had a bit more of a stroll around Pier 39 and then we hailed a cab to take us over to near the entrance of the Golden Gate Bridge because we wanted to walk out onto it.

$18 later, we were there. Colette had a premonition, as we were dropped off, that getting a cab back from this area might not be as easy as getting there was (and she turned out to be right!).

Walking out on the bridge was really nice. I’d walked out to the mid-point from the north side once in the 90’s with Dave. Today, Colette and I walked out to the same mid-point from the south (city) side. There are such huge views.

I’ve walked out now twice, been under it twice on ships (going to and coming from New Zealand) and driven over it somewhere between a half dozen and a dozen time during my life. It’s always a thrill.

Back from the walk, we looked in vain for a cab and started walking thinking we’d be able to see and flag one down. Right! We walked and walked and never saw an opportunity.

One nice side effect, however, was that eventually we walked south along Fillmore and loved the neighborhood. We definitely want to return and spend more time there.

So we continued walking aiming for Japantown which is where we were going to have the cab take us next, if we ever found one. We still couldn’t find a cab and by the time we got into the Japantown neighborhood, it was dusk and we were thinking we might need to save it for our next visit. And, the area we were in wasn’t what we expected and that meant we were probably a block or two off from where we should have been.

More walking and looking for cabs ensued. Finally, about the time we began to get back into areas where cabs might be expected to pick us up, we realized that we’d walked more than 3/4 of the way back to the BART station already so we might as well just finish the treek on foot. So, we did.

Finally, we found the Civic Center BART station and worked out which platform and train to catch and we are, finally, off our feet. I don’t know how far we walked and how many vertical feet we went up and down today, but it was a lot! My feet and left knee were talking to me when we finally sat down in the train.

Another 50 minute ride back to Concord Station and then into the car for the ride back to Dave’s. It started raining as soon as we got in the car and we reflected how lucky we’d been all day that the rain had held off all day for us.

A quick stop at the local market by Dave’s for a packet of Sushi and then home. The sushi gobbled and two nice glasses of Saki downed and I was off to bed after a nice long and relaxing shower.

Great, great day. Very memorable.


One Response to “Benicia, California – day 3”

  1. Kathy says:

    Sounds like an awesome SF day! You probably covered close to 7-10 miles of walking as it is pretty doable to walk from one side of SF to the other. I can just picture you two walking from the GG Bridge to Japantown — depending which way you went, you’d have to hike up and over some considerable steep streets! Oh well, makes eating all that more pleasurable!