Day 22--Sunday, June 29, 2003
Our hotel room shower wasn't much better than those we'd been paying for in previous days, but at least we could spend as long as we wanted in it. The day was cool, so I put on a sleeveless shirt and jeans, but I soon hurried back into the hotel room to put on socks and a sweatshirt.
Due to my driving experiences the day before and the excellent location of our hotel, we decided to walk to see all the nearby attractions. Our first stop was the only "floating" national park, which was basically a museum-type thing for boats and the waterways of San Fran. The apparently very bored woman working the desk was extremely concerned by the white lines through our fingernails and got into a lengthy discussion with us about our possible deficiencies in either zinc or calcium and our need for vitamin supplements. We got out of there as fast as we could.
All of the Alcatraz tours for the day were booked up, so we resigned ourselves to not being able to see "The Rock" up close and personal. We did gaze at it for a while from shore, and we called Melissa to find out how Rob had done in his triathlon, which had involved swimming from Alcatraz to shore, the week before. Then, on with our self-guided tour.
Our next stop was Ghiradelli Plaza, where we spent quite a while perusing the wares in a woodcarving store. Of course, my primary target was the chocolate mecca itself--and I was VERY upset to learn that such a place does not actually exist. However, we did find a chocolate shop which provided both free samples and a demonstration of how chocolate was made, so we went away happy.
Our continuation of our walk took us past blocks and blocks of merchants peddling different creations made of fresh fish, all of which we bypassed. We did manage to pick up some postcards and a magnet, and we took plenty of pictures. We then caught a trolley and hung off the sides, gazing at the gorgeous sites as we rode to Chinatown.
After leaving the trolley, we entered that section of the city through the Chinatown Gate. Ben got a bit obsessed with the idea of buying a little wooden carving, so we went into virtually every store along the street, searching for just the right one. He was eventually satisfied by carvings of the three wise men, and we continued our windowshopping. I liked all the jewelry with the huge colorful stones, and he liked the intricate ivory carvings.
When our feet were screaming that they just couldn't take it anymore, we had lunch at the Four Seas. As soon as we sat down, servers accosted us with offers of dim sun, so we ended up with a bit of that before our main course. Our sizzling rice soup contained huge amounts of both chicken and calamari, which I made Ben eat. Our Mongolian beef was good, but not the excellent recipe I'm used to at home.
After a nice long rest, we returned to the street and glanced into some more shops. We found a fresh market where we got two boxes of fresh strawberries for $1.10! I also bought a pair of Chinese slippers for $5.00 in another little shop. Then, laden down with our packages, we climbed a humongous hill, exited Chinatown, and found the Grace Cathedral.
It being Sunday, there was a service about to start at Grace. What was really neat was that it was a service honoring all of those couples in the diocese who had been married for 50 years or more. After admiring the murals and stained glass, we sat quietly in a back pew, looking at the cute old couples and listening to the heavenly music.
Back on the street, we hiked a ways and looked briefly around the trolley car museum before catching a more modern trolley back to our hotel. Our feet really needed a break! Ben again got sucked in by the television, and I took a short nap.
We both felt so refreshed by this that we didn't mind the long walk as we searched for a sandwich place in Little Italy. We eventually found what we were looking for in The Steps of Rome. We sat a table outside and watched the sun set while we enjoyed our panini sandwiches. Afterwards, we purchased a pretty poor attempt at gelato from a place specializing in dessert.
Our plan for the night had been to go to the Palace of Fine Arts, but Ben made the executive decision that we were going to continue our teen movie marathon instead. We got comfy for the evening and ended our day by watching the brain-numbing movie "Bring It On." Good night!
11 / 40