A February 2003 trip
to San Francisco by Steve4031
Quote: A Chicago school teacher maximizes a three-day weekend to escape to San Francisco and then enjoy a transcontinental train ride.
Hotel | "Courtyard Hotel by Marriott"
The hotel itself featured the standard Courtyard by Marriott rooms. My room was spacious, clean, and had a couch that could convert into a sofa bed. The king bed was firm and comfortable. I was unable to get the heat to function, but a second blanket in the room closet compensated for this. A major concern was the receptionist's casual attitude about a missed wake-up call. "Oh . . . sorry, the system was down," was the only reply. When I said this was a serious omission, she repeated that the system was down. Since I also used the clock radio as a backup, I was okay. I stayed here using Marriott reward points to get a free stay.
Several restaurants deliver to the hotel, and a full-service Marriott is across the street--thus most dining options would be adequately covered. However, I recommend dining in San Francisco, an easy BART ride away.
Overall, I recommend this place. However, don't expect the front desk to be overly helpful or knowledgeable. Compare rates carefully with hotels of similar value in San Francisco. If rates are similar, go with the San Francisco location. This is a good plan B if you can get a good rate. Don't forget that full-service Marriott across the street--you can get breakfast at that property included in your room rate.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 5, 2003
Courtyard by Marriott Oakland Downtown
Oakland, California 94607
Attraction | "Alcatraz tour on Blue and Gray tours"
Once we arrived on Alcatraz, tour guides escorted us up the path. Transportation was provided for people who might not be able to make this steep walk. Along the way, the tour guide provided background information on Alcatraz.
Inside, each visitor receives headphones and a unit that provides individualized tours of Alcatraz. The soundtrack includes information from the narrarator, guards, and inmates. Also, the narrator walks you through a famous escape attempt. At another point, an inmate's voice describes what New Year's Eve is like on Alcatraz. His description highlights the contrast between Alcatraz's proximity to San Francisco, and the isolation that inmates felt during their stay there. Overall, this is tour is excellent in all regards.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 5, 2003
Alcatraz Island/The Rock
San Francisco Bay
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco 94133
On Saturady, after lunch, the Zephyr climbed over the historic Donner pass. I enjoyed the mountain vistas as a commentator from the California RR Musuem provided background information. We learned how Emmigrant's Pass got its name, why the Chinese laborers functioned so well, and what happened to the Donner party.
On Sunday, I enjoyed an early morning ride over Wasatch Mountain while finishing breakfast in the dining car. A fresh layer of snow gave a sense of crisp cleanliness to the mountains and valleys. By 9am, the sun was out as the Zephyr raced across the Utah desert. At one point, the landscape reminded me of the desert planet from Star Wars. After lunch, the Zephyr twisted and turned its way through Colorado River Canyons. The conductor provided warnings to passengers about wildlife so that people could take pictures. I got a photograph of two Golden Eagles! Later I photographed elk, and a lone coyote. Since I have a scanner that allows me to listen in on railroad communications(like that channel on some airplanes that lets you hear the pilots), I knew when the engineer spotted wildlife, and then called the condutor on the radio so the conductor could make a PA announcement for the passengers. Late in the day, the conductor was distracted, so I was one of few who noticed and photographed the coyote.
Monday, the last day of the trip was a cloudy day, with uninspiring landscapes of Iowa and Illinois rolling by at 80mph. Familiarity breeds contempt. I grew up in the Midwest, so cornfields are definitely not exotic or exciting to me. I read, watched DVD movies on my portable DVD player, and made calls to friends on my cell phone telling them how great my trip was.