A March 2002 trip
to San Francisco by Stella
Quote: "This is a user-friendly city." - Robin Williams
IgoUgo's first offline event was the 2002 IgoUgo Guide Get Together in San Francisco. Community members and staff met in person, explored the city, and celebrated the best contributions to the site.
A City Pass (including a 7-day Muni pass, free admission to museums, etc.) Sony Metreon coupons, a VIP Culture Passport and special San Fran surprises were waiting for the guides in their hotel rooms.
- Cocktail hour before the Awards ceremony, when all the guides met in person for the first time.
- Hearing everyone's most memorable travel memory at the Awards Dinner.
- Linda Kaye's expression when she was awarded the Female Guide of the Year Award.
- Pronouncing Edinburgh incorrectly in front of everyone!
The Trolley Cars are also fun. Start at the beginning of the line on weekends; tourists practically hang on to the trolley in search of space.
Hotel | "The Commodore Hotel"
The Commodore, which offers 109 guestrooms featuring walk-in closets, full tubs and showers, cable TV, dataports and voice mail, is also home to the Red Room cocktail lounge, a New York-style bar and lounge with, you guessed it, red walls and deep couches for the trendy crowd. Mornings are brightened with breakfast at the Titanic Cafe and the realization that you're right in the middle of the city- you might even want to sleep in a little later.
The staff is helpful and professional, rooms are promptly readied for your return, and the casual atmosphere is perfect for young travelers looking for affordable but elegant accommodations. The Commodore, just one in a collection of hotels by the Joie de Vivre Hotel Group, is worth a look: www.thecommodorehotel.com
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 9, 2002
825 SUTTER STREET
San Francisco, California 94109
Hotel | "The Hotel Rex"
Sutter Street is one of the main shop, café, and restaurant hubs of the city proper. Its central location makes it easy to catch a trolley (half a block up is the famous Powell Street Cable Car line) or to walk to your desired destination.
As it was my first trip to San Francisco, I felt constantly wide-eyed and overwhelmed by a city so very different from those I am familiar with on the east coast. The Hotel Rex was no exception to my amazement, as I was highly impressed the minute I entered the lobby. The building itself was initially constructed in 1907, but restored by Joie de Vivre Hospitality only six years ago.
The ‘theme’ is a literary one. Everywhere you look there are portraits of famous writers. Quotations written in flowing calligraphy adorn the walls. Additionally, all of the guestroom walls are covered in the work of local artisans. The entire place feels cozy, like a dimly lit library. The lobby contains a large bookshelf with old, wrinkly looking volumes. The small sitting room where the bookshelf is located also contains a computer where free Internet access is available to all guests (I was infinitely grateful for this amenity!) The sitting room preempts a wonderfully spacious bar area with small tables to sit and relax at (we actually saw Janet Reno sitting in on a meeting here!) The hotel staff also offers a wine sampling for its guests every evening around 5 p.m.
Most importantly, the rooms at this Joie de Vivre establishment are comfortable and plush without any impractical pretense. In each of the 94 guest rooms, there is a writing desk, two-line cordless phones (with voice mail), cable TV, CD players, irons, bathrobes, lighted makeup mirrors, hair dryers and a well-stocked honor bar. The beds are soft and the perfect thing to fall into after a long day of walking around the hills of San Francisco.
To say that the staff at the Hotel Rex goes out of their way to make sure you enjoy every second of your stay, is a vast understatement. The front desk personnel were not only helpful with local information (directions, restaurant suggestions, etc.), but they were always friendly and pleasant. I highly recommend the Hotel Rex if you’re looking for a centralized accommodation in San Francisco with all of the comforts and amenities you could really hope for while you’re far from home.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 16, 2002
562 SUTTER ST
San Francisco, California 94102
Restaurant | "The New Delhi Restaurant & Bar"
As I awaited the arrival of the two IgoUgo guides I had come there to meet, I had a chance to look around. The sheer size of the restaurant (a converted hotel ballroom) was perfectly complimented by its high ceilings, looming columns, and ornate woodwork. The walls of New Delhi are authentically adorned with antique tiles imported from Florence, Italy. The ambiance of the restaurant is best described as elegant, yet subdued -- not at all overdone.
After everyone had arrived, we all quickly dove into the extensive and ultimately traditional menu. Award winning chef/owner Ranjan Dey prides himself on serving food "made from recipes culled from the royal Indian menus dating back 300 to 400 years using the freshest ingredients available." I enjoyed a crispy samosa for the appetizer portion of my meal, and the delicious chicken tandoori for the entrée. Both were delicious and all the spices were just right.
In addition to running the restaurant, Ranjan Dey also offers private cooking lessons to be arranged by appointment. Ranjan provides demonstrations, and subsequently offers tastings of the incredible dishes you can learn to make at home. In addition to your lesson, you also receive a gift of six spice blends and an Indian meal planner.
The New Delhi Restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bar hours are Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
New Delhi Restaurant
160 Ellis Street
San Francisco, California 94102
Restaurant | "Teatro ZinZanni: Love, Chaos & Dinner"
Teatro ZinZanni is a place where a plume blooming in purple from the corner of your eye is perfectly normal. It is not merely a restaurant or a theatre; it is more like a Moulin Rouge SF style, "blending European cabaret, circus arts and spectacle with fine dining." The theme is Love, Chaos & Dinner and each of these three elements is brought to life by an extraordinary cast, band and chef.
Take your seat inside the spiegeltent, a sort of circus tent/ life-sized jewelry box built in the 1920's completely by hand, and prepare for four hours of fun. The five-course dinner is in perfect harmony with the show; each course plays a role in the love story unfolding. The "chef", Senor Platos, The Diva and a host of other eccentric characters spend the evening engaging, admiring and surprising the audience.
I enjoyed the Carrot Parsnip Soup with Pear Cream (!), Romaine Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing and awesome Buttered Pecans, a Spring Vegetable Torta and a tangy Lemon Tart. What was more enjoyable was the flair and drama with which each dish was served.
An evening at Teatro ZinZanni indulges each of your five senses, plus your imagination.
Pier 29, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, California 94111-1900
+1 415 438 2668
MALE: Jake Ryan
FEMALE: Linda Kaye
Don Juan Award (Best Night Moves/Single Scene Journal): romeogolf (NOLA: Food for the Body and Soul)
Geronimo Award (Best Adventure Prone Journal): nmagann (Caribbean Paradise)
Robert Frost Award (Best Off-The-Beaten-Path Journal): samepenny (The Secret Places - Alaska)
Cupid Award (Best Romantic Journal): Mary Louisa (Florence for Romance)
Kick Back Award (Best Relax/Unwind Journal): lisamcgu (Samui - Spa Resort Island Retreat)
Mini Van Award (Best Family Journal): Sharon (India With the Kids)
Michelangelo Award (Best Culture Corner Journal): gwelkins (PRAGUE glorious PRAGUE)
Think Pink Award (Best Gay/Lesbian Journal): actonsteve (Wilde About Oscar - Gay and Lesbian London)
14-Karat Award (Best Luxury Journal): Truly Malin (Wine Soaked Women in the Napa Valley)
Michael Jordan Award (Best Athletic Journal): dglawless (Horse Capital of the World)
BYOB Award (Best Budget Journal): Ozzy-Dave (A Budget Guide to Far North Queensland)
Ansel Adams Award (Best Photos): kylebarber (Vancouver Photo)
Participating restaurants typically cost $39-$99 per person, but IgoUgo guests enjoyed special rates. Dining establishments (a few offering dancing and entertainment) included:
Located in the (formerly?!) high-tech SoMa area, this trendy Jody Denton restaurant serves highly rated French-Asian culinary delights.
Chef Wakabayashi's restaurant on the Sausalito waterfront serves Eastern/Western fusion cuisine.
Your five-course gourmet dinner is served with renowned cirque artists and live music.
New Delhi Restaurant http://www.newdelhirestaurant.com)
Complimentary dining (not including drinks/tax/tip) was available at New Delhi Restaurant, which was named "The Finest Indian Restaurant" by the New York Times for vegetarian and Indian cuisine. It is decorated like a palacial Indian banquet room and Chef Ranjan Dey serves up tasty dishes using the freshest ingredients.
City College of San Francisco
Their Hotel and Restaurant Department was the first two-year program in the U.S. and they offered to host a few guides for a gourmet lunch on Friday.
The San Francisco Symphony
IgoUgo offered two complimentary tickets to "Strauss' Also Sprach Zarahustra" - remember the opening theme to "2001: A Space Odyssey"?
Victorian Home Walk
A charming 2.5 hour walking tour of Victorian homes in San Francisco was available to our guides for FREE!
San Francisco Fire Engine Tours & Adventures
Ride in a fire engine and tour San Francisco while you're at it. Four individual guides were offered one FREE admission (per family).
Dinner followed along with special presentations by the IgoUgo staff and fun activities including a Travel Trivia game, raffle, t-shirt giveaway and Q&A session.
The Awards were announced at the end of the evening. Winners of the Guide of the Year Award received a free international trip while other award winners received gift certificates to ebags and special deals...
For a list of the winners, click here.
Brooklyn, New York