Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

There’s nothing that pleases an armchair traveller more than a good travel guidebook. And Fodor’s 2012 book on “San Francisco with the Wine Country” is as good as it gets. This book has everything one needs to know for a fantastic vacation centered in the ‘city by the bay.’

As with other Fodor books, it has excellent sections on ‘Great Itineraries,’ ‘Top Walking Tours,’ ‘Top Attractions,’ as well as info on ‘Where to Stay’ and ‘Where to Eat.” But San Francisco is an exceptional city and this book lists all the exceptional sights including the waterfront, the Presidio, the Haight-Ashbury center of the 60’s hippy era, Alcatraz, and Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in North America.

The book also gives an interesting rundown on both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes along with historical notes.

There is also a section on Cable Cars where you can still ‘climb half way to the stars’ but at a pretty hefty price without a pass. Fortunately, San Francisco’s Muni system offers a three-day pass for unlimited rides including cable cars for just $20.00. A definitely must to purchase.’

As to nightlife, I well remember my first visit to the Golden Gate city in the 1960s. The historic, old Purple Onion, where my girl friend and I mooned over such folk music favourites as the Kingston Trio and the Smothers Brothers, is still there; although, as the book explains, it has seen better days.

For a more elegant evening, one can still get a mai tai at the Hotel Fairmont’s Tonga Room, and watch a man-made rainstorm, as musicians on a floating bandstand play the music of the 40s and 50s. Or you can spend a romantic night dancing at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in the newly renovated Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

The book includes a wonderful section on the wine areas of Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge. As the book explains, Napa is ‘almost wall-to-wall wineries,’ while Sonoma is ‘more rural.’ There’s a great map of the area with a list of ‘top reasons to go there’ along with the best places to taste, to eat, and to stay.
This San Francisco Guide Book is so packed full of enticements to visit the area, that I’m already making plans to visit next spring. That city will always have a piece of my heart.  

(Next week: the promised blog on Okanagan's Wine Country. I hope!)

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