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Old 28th May 2018, 12:27 PM   #31
yflyer
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Continuing with the TR…

I caught an Uber from the Marriott to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center…this was the usual starting point for my run.



My usual route is to head across the Bridge to Marin County before turning round and jogging back across the bridge, before continuing along the waterfront, past Crissy Field, the Marina, Fort Mason and then Fishermans Wharf.



I’ve covered the run in previous TR’s, but not recently, so here is a quick tour of the route, with a few updates as were some changes of scenery since the last run.

The weather that day was perfect.

Near the ends of the bridge, there are usually many people walking along the well marked sidewalk, taking pictures, or just enjoying the stroll…



But the crowds do thin out as you reach the middle of the Bridge. In the next picture, you can see one of the many sightseeing boats that pass under the bridge on their regular tours of the bay.


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Old 28th May 2018, 12:30 PM   #32
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Looking towards the city of San Francisco from the bridge, there was a new structure standing tall over the familiar cityscape…



This was the newly constructed Salesforce Tower, topped with an impressive 11,000 LED public art installation, although its construction was also met with some controversy.



Salesforce Tower, now the tallest building in San Francisco, dwarfs the previous record holder, the Transamerica Pyramid…



Given that the SF skyline has been largely unchanged for so long, the rise of the tower came as quite of a shock to many, both locals and visitors (This visitor included..."where did that building suddenly pop up from?", I thought...) but this is probably just one of the more visible changes to San Francisco in recent years. The city has already changed in so many ways, fuelled by tech and VC dollars from the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, and, yes, Salesforce.com, just to name a few, whether it is the skyrocketing real estate prices, gentrification of old neighbourhoods, or the increasingly fine options available for dining, some of which I would explore later on in the trip.

The other side of the Bridge has a dedicated bike lane. I have not tried biking across the Bridge, or in Marin County, but some of my friends have, and they say it is a great place to ride.



At the other end of the Bridge, at Marin County, I paused to catch my breath before heading back across the Bridge.



Each way across the bridge is 2.5km, however the weather was good, with a wonderful wind blowing as you ran, so it all felt quite effortless, compared to running a similar distance in hot Singapore weather.


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Old 28th May 2018, 12:32 PM   #33
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Back across the Bridge, I headed down the footpaths (Bike tracks also available), towards Crissy Field…



It is almost impossible to take a bad picture of the Bridge...



I jogged past a small nature conservation area with earthworks...



…and a small tunnel with just enough space at the entrance for a runner to squeeze through, if bent over…



…although the tunnel gets larger inside…



Here is a picture from another run made later in the trip, showing just how small the tunnel entrance is…



This is part of the park, a nature conservation area…



A slight detour due to a trail closure as they renovate part of the hillside…



The short V-shaped detour down a dirt trail was pleasant enough...


Last edited by yflyer; 28th May 2018 at 01:47 PM..
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Old 28th May 2018, 12:33 PM   #34
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And then I was heading down the steps towards the Warming Hut…



…from there it was a pleasant jog along the waterfront trail past picnic grounds…





and Crissy Field…





…before reaching the Marina…



…with its beautiful homes lining the street…



…and then up the low hill behind Fort Mason…



…where there were nice views of Alcatraz through the trees…



…and then down the hill towards the art-deco Maritime Museum and Ghiradelli Square…





….towards Fishermans Wharf…


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Old 28th May 2018, 12:35 PM   #35
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I spotted an In-N-Out…no time to eat their amazing burgers on this trip, but nice to know there is a branch close by in case the craving hit…



A short distance away, Fishermans Wharf…



Lots of small seafood stands in the area…



…serving crab and lobster rolls…



...steamed crab…





…and other delights.

Total distance up to that point: 12 km.



I stopped my Garmin watch and ended my run, and began a slow walk along the pier...

At that point, my original plan was to catch another Uber back to the hotel. But I glanced south up towards Stockton Street and saw several familiar landmarks and buildings…it didn’t seem too far back to the Marriott.



A look at Google Maps on my iPhone showed the distance back to the Marriott to be just 2.5km, although much of it would be uphill.

I thought, what the heck, might as well do a slow jog back to the hotel…





Let’s just say that the hills in central SF are not to be taken lightly…the inclines were challenging…



That last uphill 2.5km took me 19 huffing-and-puffing minutes!



Eventually, I made it back to the Marriott, and showered before heading out for dinner…

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Old 28th May 2018, 12:36 PM   #36
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Dinner was at SPQR, an Italian/American restaurant on Fillmore Street, a very pleasant street lined with eateries and small shops, a short Uber ride from Union Square.





The menu…



I had eaten there a couple of times before, and had previously always gone for their pasta tasting menu. On this evening, a Saturday, the pasta tasting menu was not available. They did have a chef’s tasting menu, but I decided that I would save that treat for a future visit, and ordered a la carte instead.

Some of the wines available…



My seat was at the counter, which gave me a great view of the food being prepared at the counter…




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Old 28th May 2018, 12:36 PM   #37
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My first course was a sweet corn and quinoa “fritella”, with roe and smoked trout…



The fritella had a scrumptuous texture, and went perfectly with the salty roe and trout, and the red onion fresh cream.

I paired this with a glass of white wine, Graci, Etna Bianco, which as the name implied was made from Carricante / Catarratto grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily.



My next course was the squid ink spaghetti…



…very tasty pasta, cooked to a perfect texture, and tossed in an intensely flavoured mussel, octopus and red wine sauce…



…which I had with a Diano ‘Suber’ Bosco di Santo Pietro, a wine also from Sicily.

And all this time, in front of me, the team of chefs were engaged in what seemed almost to be a highly choreographed dance, preparing dishes for the full house seated at the table of this cosy restaurant…



Although I did not order a full tasting menu, it was almost enough to feast on this spread with my eyes, seated at the counter…



…dishes which I had eyed on the menu, which I did not have space in my tummy to order, were meticulously prepared in front of me…

“This is a terrible seat…” I told my waitress, who looked a little concerned, until I added…

“…I am being tortured by all this wonderful food being prepared in front of me!”

…then she broke into a huge smile…

The beef short rib with stuffed morel mushrooms, about to sent to another lucky diner somewhere in the dining room…



The dessert selection…



I ordered the chestnut “clafoutis” with black truffle gelato and honey, along with a sweet wine, the Marco di Bartoli “Bukkuram” Zibbibo, completing a run of 3 wines from Sicily…



A marshmallow and small chocolate muffin(?) to end…



A very enjoyable first dinner in San Francisco! The next time I head to SPQR, it will be for the tasting menu!

To be continued!
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Old 28th May 2018, 02:05 PM   #38
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Another beautiful and informative TR, yflyer!! Well done, and thank you!
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Old 28th May 2018, 10:28 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarbonMan View Post
Another beautiful and informative TR, yflyer!! Well done, and thank you!
Thanks, CarbonMan!
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Old 28th May 2018, 10:48 PM   #40
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Continuing with the TR...

The next day, I decided to go for another run, this time through San Francisco's Chinatown, located just north of Union Square and the Marriott.

I started at the Dragon Gate at Grant Avenue...



The road was festooned with red lanterns, and Oriental themed designs...



...even the lamp posts had a Chinese theme...



Shops sold antiques, trinkets and souvenirs...





Buskers played traditional Chinese instruments against the backdrop of a Bruce Lee mural...



As I observed the comings and goings along Grant Avenue as I jogged up, then down the street, I could not help thinking that this had, to a large extent, become a show put on for tourists. SF Chinatown may have been the oldest, and still the largest, Chinatown in the United States, but at least along Grant Avenue, this had morphed into something quite artificial...
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Old 28th May 2018, 11:03 PM   #41
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I turned off Grant Avenue feeling a little shortchanged (Was this all that was left of the fabled SF Chinatown?), but then when I headed over to Stockton Street, a street just a block away, I was quite happy to see that an authentic Chinatown still existed, along Stockton Street, running parallel to Grant Avenue. It might as well have been a parallel universe: now here was the real deal...



...nothing for tourists to see, but here was the hustle and bustle of life in a Chinese or Asian city...



Shops, restaurants, markets...





...all the sights, sounds and smells of a thriving Chinese community...



Some parts of SF Chinatown seemed caught in a timewarp...a frozen snapshot of a China from a very different era, and in many ways very different from cities in China today.

One thing for sure, if I ever needed a Chinese food fix, or ingredients to cook myself a Chinese dinner, I would be able to find them here...

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Old 28th May 2018, 11:14 PM   #42
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From Chinatown, I continued my run eastwards, along Broadway, to the San Francisco Ferry terminal, along the Embarcadero...



...before heading south, towards the Oakland Bay Bridge...



...where I encountered fans of the SF Giants, strolling out of AT&T Park after a baseball game at the stadium.



That day, the SF Giants beat the LA Dodgers 4 runs to 2.

I doubled back to the Ferry Building...



...and then back to the Marriott for a total distance of 8km.


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Old 28th May 2018, 11:29 PM   #43
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Dinner that Sunday evening was in the Mission district, at a restaurant named Foreign Cinema.



I have no idea if the building and venue ever housed an actual cinema in the past, but the location and setting were certainly quite unique and evocative.

Through the entrance, one was led down a long corridor before entering the dining area, which consists of both an outdoor and an indoor dining area...





An unusually eclectic menu, with great attention to detail and sourcing of produce...



And an intriguing cocktail menu (Not to mention an extensive wine list)...



I began with an "Escape Me Never"...



...Mmmmm....

My first course was the Pacific tuna ceviche...



Incredible...what fresh tuna....great texture and mouthfeel...



I ordered the flight of Austrian wines from their wine menu...



These were three Austrian wines from Gut Oggau: a white, a rose, and a red...



Next up, the spring vegetable soup...


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Old 28th May 2018, 11:37 PM   #44
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Next, I sampled the Ras Al Hanout Quail with foie-gras basmati rice stuffing, which I paired with the 3rd wine in the Austrian tasting flight: the Gut Oggau Josephine 2013, a deep red wine made with Rosler and Blaufrankisch grapes (Neither of which I had ever encountered before)...



The quail was incredibly fine...a crisp, warm exterior, and within it tender quail flesh, and a stuffing of fragrant basmati...



...lip-smacking good...



Together with dessert, I ordered their whisky of the week...



...a rye whisky from the Wright and Brown Distilling company...



Why doesn't every restaurant offer a "whisky of the week"?

The cheese and dessert menu...



I somehow had room for the caramel ice cream profiteroles...



Overall, a very fine dinner, and a place I would want to return to!

The next day, I left San Francisco and headed to Santa Clara.

To be continued!

Last edited by yflyer; 29th May 2018 at 02:27 PM..
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Old 29th May 2018, 11:22 AM   #45
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My next step was Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley, close to San Jose, Mountain View and Cupertino, where tech giants such as Google and Apple had their HQ's.

This is a beautiful part of California, with lots of green, parks, trails and open space.

My hotel was the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, part of a large convention center, and not far from the Levis' Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers football team.





Despite being part of a convention center complex, the Hyatt had a relaxed vibe...



The public areas were never too noisy or crowded, although there were clearly several events and meetings taking place at the time.



I still think the tier names of Hyatt's loyalty program are fussy, confusing, and too much of a mouthful. "Explorist" and "Discoverist" don't even exist as words in the dictionary...

Goofy loyalty program tier names aside, I really liked this hotel. Service was good, and so were the rooms.

My room was spacious, with two double beds...



Decor was modern and stylish...





From my room, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had view, to the west, in the far distance, of Moffett Field. This is a historical airfield with several large hangars which used to house blimps.



I had taken pictures of this airfield from the air in a previous TR. Now I could take a closer look at these hangars, just a short drive away.

Here are some other pictures of the hangars taken while driving past in an Uber car.





Other notable buildings in the area included the new Apple corporate campus, the "Spaceship", an amazing building which I had no time to visit on this trip. Not that I would have been able to go in anyway -- entry is only for employees and business visitors. Anyone else would have to settle for the Apple Park Visitor Center.

In fact, it is notoriously difficult to take pictures of the campus, as it is shielded by trees from the street, and drones are not permitted to fly above the campus.

I didn't have time to visit, or even jog past the campus. I mentioned this to one of the Uber drivers I rode later in the week, and she showed me a picture that she took of the campus on her phone...it turns out that she was an Apple fan, and had owned an Apple //e many years ago. She had gone to visit the original house that Steve Jobs had in Los Altos, now a historic site, and also taken pictures of the Apple campus...


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