All good things must come to an end, and so we arrived at the last full day of our second flitterwochen. Despite this being my fourth and Ian’s second time in San Franciso, neither one of us had been to Coit Tower. We decided to rectify that. It was a pleasant day, and we were sure to get a nice view of the city, so we boarded a cable car and headed for the tower.
I sometimes wonder if tourists are pretty much the only people who ride the cable cars in San Francisco. I imagine there are times when it would be convenient for locals to use them, but whenever I have been on one, it has been populated mostly by tourists. On this particular ride, we chatted with some men from Winnipeg. The conversation quickly turned to hockey because a) we were talking to Canadians, and b) the Stanley cup playoffs were in progress at the time, and the Blackhawks were still alive. Turns out, these fellows knew Jonathon Toews. Then again, Canada is not all that populous–most Canadians probably know each other, right? 😛 I should have asked if they know my cousin who lives in Winnipeg…
Anyhow, we made our way to Coit Tower (another place I suspect you will find mostly tourists), and as expected, it offered lovely views of the city and the bay.
Next, we went back down to the waterfront and grabbed some lunch at Pier 39. We had been thinking of visiting Distillery 209 and tasting what they had to offer but were perplexed when we could not find the pier on which it was located. You’d think that Pier 50 would be fairly close (11 piers away, to put a fine point on it) to Pier 39, right? Well you’d be wrong. When we finally gave in an consulted a map, we realized that the last pier on our side of the harbor was 47 and the numbering picked up at 48 all the way over on the other side, just under 4 miles away. It was then we determined our need to visit the distillery was not that pressing.
Instead, we decided to take the cable car back toward Union Square. The line at the turnaround seemed long, but we really had no idea. During the 45 or so minutes of waiting in line, we tried to figure out the system for dispatching cars. We failed, as we were unable to make head or tail of it. Cars would sit empty for long but varying periods. Every so often, one would be filled with passengers and only to stand still for another long period. Then suddenly, inexplicably, it was time to go. Thankfully, the weather was nice, and we were not in a hurry.
At last, we boarded a car, which eventually got moving. Our next destination was Gump’s. This local department store is known primarily for high-end home furnishings and decor, but I like it for array of fun, quirky, occasionally ridiculous, stuff you can find there. Collage of the Golden Gate bridge made from cutouts of vintage books? Check. Whimsical watering can shaped like a pig? Of course! Gorgeous crystal cocktail glass that I love but would never dream of spending anywhere near that much money on? Yup. Bronze meerkat? Sh’ya. Giant glass insects? I couldn’t find them on the website, but I did see them in the store. It’s just a fun place to browse around for a while.
We then returned to Union Square to enjoy some beer, sunshine, and people watching. Actually, we ended up doing a fair amount of pigeon watching as well. A particularly persistent pigeon kept pecking at a clear plastic container that housed a woman’s sandwich. Although confused and flustered (Damn it! I can see the sandwich. It’s right there! What is this cursed invisible barrier?), the pigeon persevered. Occasionally, it turned around and, feigning nonchalance, started to walk away, only to dart back and peck at the container again, as if the element of surprise would somehow cause the plastic container to surrender its contents. Eventually, the sandwich owner noticed the pigeon’s antics, pulled her sandwich closer to her and shooed the bird away. I felt kind of bad for the pigeon. Good effort!
While in Union Square, we took the opportunity to recreate (well, sort of) a couple more honeymoon photos. Along with several other locations in the city, each of the four corners of the square has a painted heart sculpture. We took a couple of pictures with the hearts on our honeymoon, the first year the sculptures were there, not realizing at the time that the hearts would be part of a continuing annual art installation, with new ones being placed and eventually auctioned off each year.
Later that evening, we went to the Starlight Room for pre-dinner cocktails and more lovely views of the city.
We wrapped up the evening with dinner at Millennium, which I had been highly anticipating after hearing many good things about the place. Unfortunately, it fell rather short of my expectations. Although we had made reservations a few days earlier, our first inkling that there was a prix fixe menu that evening came when the menus were put in front of us. Had I known this in advance, I would have made reservations for another night when the regular menu was available. But, it was our final night in San Francisco, it was after 9:00, so we had little choice but to go with it. The theme of the menu was “Southern Comfort”– traditional southern foods made with a vegan twist (and a fair amount of snark it seemed if you read the menu). It’s not that anything we ate was bad, it was just not what we were expecting. When I think of high-end vegan food, I don’t expect anything Dorito-encrusted. Heck, I wouldn’t have even guessed Doritos were vegan (apparently, certain flavors are). Also, you can dress up iceberg lettuce all you want, but it’s still iceberg lettuce. The dim sum tater tots were decent, because well, how can you not like tater tots? Still, it was not the kind of thing I had expected from and allegedly gourmet establishment. Dessert was an “ice cream” concoction, and we were directed to the table of toppings where we could customize it to our liking–or, presumably, we would have been able to if there had been anything but a few dregs of toppings left. All that, in combination with the seemingly indifferent waitservice, made for a somewhat disappointing last dinner of our trip.
So as not to end on a sour note, we agreed to go out for breakfast the next morning. Each day we had passed David’s Delicatessen and had been amused by signs under the awning that said things like, “Mel Brooks doesn’t eat here, but we think he’d like it if he did,” and so we figured we’d give it a try. It’s a cute place a 50’s diner kind of vibe and mostly counter seating. The apple pancake was delicious, and I had one final mimosa before vacation ended and day drinking would no longer be a regular occurrence. Also, there were chickens! Okay, they were ceramic, but they were very cute, and, especially after the Sonoma chicken letdown, they left me with a smile to round out an altogether wonderful trip.