San Francisco with Lisa

Agent Name: Lisa
Date: December 2011
Trip Location: San Francisco

sf 245Overall impression: San Francisco is a beautiful coastal city. Bring your walking shoes because there’s a lot to see and prepare to climb up and down the hills of the city. It’s a fun city with lots of colorful history to see beyond simply Fisherman’s wharf and Alcatraz. A two night visit can give you a sample of what the city has to offer but if you’ve got more time you can take a lot in.

I went because I was invited to see the Fairmont San Francisco, in December 2011. It is centrally located a top of Nob Hill and it’s the only place in San Francisco where the cable car lines meet. Fairmont San Francisco is where the Fairmont hotels began, built by the Fair sisters, Virginia and Tessie, as a monument to their father, “Bonanza Jim” Fair. While the hotel was not completed by the Fair sisters, the next owners took it on and completed just days before the earthquake and “great fire” of 1906. In the whole experience the Fairmont survived remarkably well, in relation to so many of the other buildings that crumbled or burned after those events. Restoration and renovations completed the hotel and it became “The” place for the social set of the city.

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speak imagine the stories they would tell. The Fairmont has seen much in its 110 years since construction began and remains a landmark in the city.

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Today the Fairmont remains a hub of activity and like so many Fairmont hotels is a hotel that reminds me of history and traditions. The Fairmont builds a 2 story gingerbread house every year and seated in the lobby you can see

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the multi generational families that come to see the house and the children who are awed by the size of this edible structure though I’m not certain I really want to have a bite of the structure so many poke and touch in amazement. Though, some toddlers are quite keen to try to sample some flavors with a lick or two of the candy cane trimmings or royal icing icicles on the structure.

Located just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf but a little more removed from the cheap t-shirts sits the Buena Vista Café located on Hyde Street and the home of the First “Irish Coffee” in America. A client told me to find this place and I’m glad I listened. The Buena Vista is the quintisential pub – talk about an experience. The drinks are almost only Irish Coffee. Nothing fancy about it. Forget your canisters of whipping cream. Don’t worry about the pretty sugar rim. All the ingredients are there and oh, do they go down easily. Place your orders and enjoy an Irish Coffee, or two or three! I don’t think I saw anything other than Irish coffees flying off the bar. Talk about a production line! They say the bar serves up to 2000 of the drinks a day. No surprise in my mind on the Saturday I stopped by. This is a place to visit whether you belly up to the bar or find a table with a couple of available chairs. Nothing to be shy about here because on a sunny December afternoon it is wall to wall people. Maybe the cool air had something to do with how busy the place was but for some reason I don’t think so. Find a chair or two, share a table near the window, have a drink and enjoy. Meet a few new folks as you’ll probably share a table with the tourists and the locals. Either way it’s a great stop.

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Fisherman’s Wharf is home to everything San Francisco. My personal favorite is San Francisco Sourdough, with a stop off at Boudin’s Sourdough for some fresh hearty bread. Or plan to graze your way along the street. Saturday afternoon let me wander through San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market with lots of fresh local produce and wall to wall people. I loved The Cowgirl Creamery stall with amazing artisan cheeses from around the world.

My first trip to a city combined with quick visit always makes me look for the Big Bus Tours. 24 and 48 hour tickets are available with more and more cities starting to provide some value added free walking tours at select stops. In San Francisco, for example, consider the twice daily 90 minute walking tour of Chinatown. Ask your driver for more details and remember your tour was free so consider a tip for you walking tour guide.