Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Four Days in San Francisco - Part II

Day three found us driving towards the Monterey-Carmel area. To the south of the city. We drove through Silicon Valley looking for the Mystery Spot, but the tickets were all sold out. Just before we reached Monterey we stopped at Moss’s Landing to see the sea lions. Young ones climbing on top of their elders, the elders basking in the sun on a cold day. Some fighting, pushing. It was a riot. It was late in the afternoon when we reached Monterey. We parked and went to the beach. It was a beautiful day. Blue skies with few white clouds. The bay a deep cerulean blue in some places, a frothy sea green when you turned and looked the other way. Chip obviously wanted to dive right into the really cold water, not interested in shells and sea glass on the beach that I tried to distract him with. BigGeek hurried us as we tried to get sand off from our shoes. Everybody was hungry. BigGeek tried to find a small Syrian place where we had eaten the best spanakopita ever five years ago. He found it and we all did a take out of tasty Mediterranean food – perfect accompaniment to the Mediterranean blues and whites of the water and sky outside. We drove on looking at the famous Cannery Row, which not surprisingly had Steinbeck plastered everywhere you could see. We took some pictures and headed to the 17 mile drive.

The 17 mile drive is a stretch of a private road between Monterey and Carmel. With exquisite views the bay, the houses here are uber expensive. A getaway for the richest of the richest. Filmstars, hot shot lawyers and business men have beach homes here on the Pebble Beach, home also to the famous eponymous golf course. Five years can make a lot of difference in what you consider “money”. I remember being very impressed with the homes then. But this time, not so much. Some of the houses, no mansions were certainly breathtaking but this time it was somehow different. We stopped at the many vista points to get gorgeous views of the bay and the cypress trees that line it, including the famous lone cypress. I have yet to see a desi that does not have a picture of this one.

We reached Carmel-by-the-bay wanting coffee. At least my mother-in-law and I wanted coffee. I had promised Chip that I would buy some salt water taffy for him in Carmel. We stopped on a charming street flanked with small shops. We went to a candy store to buy taffy but when I looked at its ingredients it listed egg whites, and since Chip is allergic to egg whites, we, after a bit of tears and foot-thumping settled for a lollipop the size of a saucer! We bought two coffees at a nearby coffee shop and headed back to San Jose to eat dinner with BigGeek’s distant uncle – whom he had not met in over a decade.

Fourth day, was our last day in San Francisco. We were scheduled to catch a red eye that night. We planned to see Coit Tower and the famous china town and perhaps the aquarium and another ice-cream at Ghirardelli’s. By the time we checked out out of the hotel it was afternoon. We were not hungry since we had a good breakfast, so we decided to go doen crooked street and head to Coit Tower. Lombard street also known as the Crooked Street, is the world’s crookedest street. The mile long street has about 40 turns. They are made so that motorists can negotiate the almost 70 degree incline in such a short distance. They are houses on crooked street and people actually live in them. I can’t imagine parking there. For that matter I can’t imagine parking or even driving anywhere in San Francisco – the city and so many ups and downs – its not for the faint of heart. By the time we reached Coit Tower, Chip was asleep. I dared not wake him up and was happy to sit out Coit Tower since I am deathly scared of heights. I napped with Chip too when the trio came back an hour later from their trip. Chip was awake by then and we decided to head towards the Aquarium.

The Aquarium-by-the-bay is a glass tunnel constructed under the bay to showcase local marine wildlife. It was a blast. We saw starfish clung to the wall of the tunnel. Eels, giant fish that were atleast five feet in length (I forgot their name) bat rays, sharks, colorful anemone. Schools of fish swam over head – it was like scuba diving without getting wet or without getting your toe bit off by a shark! The best part were small pools where they kept bat rays, sharks and star fish. You were encouraged to touch them. Chip was wildly excited. He was ready to take off his clothes and dive in with the sharks. And in his quintessential Chipness boldly went to touch all fish – bat rays, sharks and the star fish which were his favorite! It was getting late in the afternoon and out breakfast had worn itself. It was time to refuel. With what else- but another ice-cream at Ghirardelli’s. This time BigGeek refused to share a sundae with me. We all got dark chocolate stuff – and ate to out heart’s content. With a few more hours to kill before the flight, we decided to go to Silicon Valeey again to meet another relative who my MIL had not seen in over a decade. We ate Chat –after all a trip to Silicon Valley or Little India as I like to call it is incomplete without some desi food. As we sat sated in the Chaat Palace on El Camino, watching as the place filled with all manners of desis, reflecting on the last 4 days, I looked at BigGeek and said “I know you will hate me for this, but I could move here in a heartbeat.”

18 comments:

K 3 said...

OMG!!! You were driving down El Camino and I could have been right there on another lane?!! Or maybe not!! But it could have happened!!! Desi movie ishtyle! :)

Glad you had a great trip and you seemed to have covered all the major attractions! Nice work!

ddmom said...

LOL on K3's comment. K3, we stay so close, still haven't met :)
DotThoughts, glad to hear that you liked Silicon Valley so much :) You have seen more of the bay area than me :) I love the 17 mile drive and Highway 1 drive. Did you'll go to BigSur?

Anonymous said...

yes, I was going to ask what ddmom sked . Did u guys goto Big Sur? Check it out the next time ... I love that place... There is one lodge/hotel there where they have chairs in the middle of a creek :) Is awesome.

-AG

DotThoughts said...

K3: I was looking for you and ddmom :) I swear. I was hoping you would recognize Chip.

ddmom and AG: I had been to the BigSur on the last trip. I had read a LOT about it in Tao Of Physics by Fritjof Capra and was dying to see it. We took Rt1 from SFO to LA then and it was everything I ever imagined BigSur to be. I am sure people find enlightenment there all the time!

Neera said...

Beautiful!! Brought back such lovely memories from the wonderful times we were in when we stayed at a 2 hour drive from the charming city, thats San Francisco. Lombard street, Fisherman's wharf, Ghirardelli’s, Monterey and oh the houses on the bay - I could stand for a long time marveling at them. Chip looks like such a big boy, deep in thoughts on that ferry.

Vinita said...

Could you?? I mean move to SFO in a heartbeat? I was there for a week last month and enjoyed every single minute of it. But I kept thinking to myself.. thank god I don't live here.

But you managed to do a lot in 4 days. That too with a baby and the in-laws.
Vinita

utbtkids said...

Dottie, move here, move here!!

The husband has taken me to Lombrd only three times in the past ten years. Inspite of being a new bride, he absolutely refused to take me to Lombard in his stick shift. Damn these arranged marriages I say :(

My worst nightmare is getting lost in SFO. Every time I drive to the Indian consulate, my heart is practically in my throat.

~nm said...

Wow! Someone is really having fun ehh? :D Good good..enjoy and keep writing!

Its goo to read such a detailed account of your trip!

bird's eye view said...

Sounds like a great trip. I remember driving and walking down Lombard Street 4 years ago while we were on vacation - what a crazy place. Couldn't imagine how people get their cars parked...but the flowers are so gorgeous.

El camino...that's right next to my sister's place!

Poppins said...

Love the ending ! Love it :) Would you really though, somehow I can't see you in the bay area setup. Although you have to admit that the weather and the natural attractions in this state beats everything else hands down. If you ever move I imagine that you'd live somewhere like Santa Cruz, with a house that has a view of the ocean.

NainaAshley said...

Loved the detailed account of your trip. Brought back memories of our first trip to the SF area. We pretty much did the same stuff. Now we go there every once in a while since my BIL lives there but we hardly venture out ....just spend time with the family.

Preethi said...

aah... you took me down memory lane.. I just love the bay area!! Lived there for a while, or have I already told you that!! sigh!!!

K.C. said...

I am completely accross the country from you in Mississippi, so I was glad that I stopped by so that i could see you trip. It made me envious. Great blog post. Your writing was well done. Thanks... KC

mixedblessings89 said...

Wow you seem to have really enjoyed yourself!

Haha chaat in Silicon Valley :P

You write so well! I could almost FEEL everything! Great Job!

DotThoughts said...

Neera: It is a nice city! Chip reminds me so much of my dad when he goes into these pensive moods and starts to hum!

Vinita: It depends where you are from :) In the DC area, traffic is so horrible. It would be a nice change. But just curious - why would you not like to live there?

utbtkids: I don't think ANYBODY can drive a stick on Lombard :)

~nm: thanks! the trip was shoet but good fun!

BEV: The flowers are amazing. MY IL's loved Lombard street.

Poppins: Santa Cruz? I will be happt to afford "any" house in the bay area. Although santa Clara would be ncie. But we don't have shrillions :)

Naina: Thanks. On the last trip we went to Yosemite too.. no time this time!

K.C.: you live the the deeo south. Wow. how does that feel. you should totally make a trip to SFO.

mixedblessings89: Thanks hon! We had a great time!

Vinita said...

hehe exactly the same reason you don't want to live in DC. I thought the traffic in SFO was horrible. It was crowded everywhere we went.People people people. Also the real estate. Tiny houses and very very expensive. Life style was too busy. But lot of opportunities to do any and everything under the sun.

Vinita

Mystic Margarita said...

Took a trip cicariously through your writing. I have only been to the Bay area briefly - wish to visit soon!

DotThoughts said...

vinita: gawd you should look at dc traffic. SFO was a breeze compared to it. Houses are tiny, but in DC its not very differnt. And we need to shovel snow here :) Maybe I should move to whereever you are. That sounds like a ncie place!

Mystic: Hope this makes you go visit the bay area soon!