A long weekend in San Francisco - sights, shopping, and theater!
by FelineFrenzy on September 10, 2007
We were given a 5th floor studio and, when we arrived, very pleasantly surprised to find it spacious, elegantly furnished, and, wait for it …. with it’s own private (and big, about 200 sq ft) terrace. Apparently, all the 5th floor suites on one side of the building open out into a terrace and each terrace is screened with lattice work and greenery. An absolute and unexpected oasis in the heart of the city! Surprisingly, it wasn’t noisy as you might expect, as the street noises were muted. The unit has one king bed and 1 sofa queen, with minimal kitchen facilities – mini-fridge, microwave, sink, coffee maker, plates, glassware and silverware for four. The closet has a safe, and the entire building has free WiFi. The unit is definitely spacious for a couple, and could also work for 2 adults and 2 kids, but would be uncomfortable for 4 adults since there is no privacy and only one bathroom. Nothing spectacular about the bathroom, but overall the suite was well-laid out, comfortable, and a wonderful place to spend a few days.
We had booked an Alcatraz tour in advance (you must do this in advance on the Internet at www.alcatrazcruises.com as they sell out well in advance) and it was worth every moment. We took the 11am sailing, and the time was just right to let us sleep in and then get lots of sunshine there and back. By the way, this is the only company that is licensed to take you to the island. Other tours can sail past, but cannot land. Going to Alcatraz is a definite must-do, and the included audio tour at Alcatraz was clearly the highlight. Beautifully narrated and organized, it really brought this site to life! They also offer evening sailings to Alcatraz, and apparently those sailings include some "surprises". You can read more about this at the Alcatraz Cruises website.
We took a free two-hour walking tour of Chinatown, and the tour guide was knowledgeable and interesting. San Francisco City Guides (www.sfcityguides.org) offers several free walking tours in SF, and since they are funded by the San Francisco Public Library, not only are all the guides library volunteers, but their information is based on research and reality. They make it very clear that they don’t accept tips, but they will (completely optional) accept donations to help the San Francisco Public Library continue to fund these walking tours. We gladly made a donation at the end, as we felt that it was more than worth it.
It's recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance, and if you really plan well, you will probably be able to get half-price tickets at www.goldstarevents.com. You can also try to get half-price tickets at the ½-price booth in Union Square (just a block from the Donatello). A long-running musical revue, it’s become a SF staple, both for tourists as well as for locals. It’s very campy, a little crazy, and lots of fun! But off-beat as it is, don’t miss it!
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