Saturday, July 12, 2008

If You're Going To San Francisco...

No, I am not going to serenade you with that 1960s anthem to Flower Power (you can thank me later), not that it isn't a perfectly lovely song, but Aunty's singing abilities leave a lot to be desired. But this post is for the 2000+ folks headed for the Romance Writers of America National Conference in San Francisco.

The DH and I spent a recent afternoon in The City in order to check out the hotel and surrounding area. For those of you with maps (or know the area) the hotel faces 4th Street between Mission and Market. St. Patrick's church is right next to it. Unfortunately, so are a lot of homeless/beggars.
Pan-handlers can be aggressive in this area near the hotel. I wouldn't recommend going out on foot after about 9 pm when stores close. Better safe than sorry.

When walking out of the hotel lobby, turn right and Market Street is 1/2 block away. Ross is on the corner and handy for any emergency wardrobe malfunctions (pantyhose or knee highs, foundation garments, etc) and Old Navy is across 4th.

If you cross and walk down Market in front of Old Navy, a few doors down is a Walgreens, handy for any items (shampoo, conditioner, snacks) you might have forgotten. About 2 blocks farther is the Westfield Mall which is 4 or 5 stories with every store imaginable including Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, and a food court (below street level). There's a nice upscale grocery in the mall food court called Bristol Farms that has all kinds of hot and cold prepared foods, and beautiful produce.

Another handy store to buy most anything you need is the Rite Aid on Market. Rite Aid has all those silly little dust catchers that say San Francisco on them that you might want to take home to kidlets and others as souvenirs. When standing at Ross, cross to the other side of Market (sometimes a scary endeavor since it's one of the busiest streets in the city) and Rite Aid is in the middle of the block. Also, if you go out the back door of Rite Aid you will be about 2--3 easy blocks from Union Square which has Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and lots of other upscale shops.

If you continue down Market on the same side of the street as Rite Aid, about 2 blocks will be Grant. If you turn left on Grant and walk about 3 long blocks, you will be at the entrance to Chinatown. You'll know it by the ornate gate and lion-dog guardians. I love Chinatown and think it well worth seeing!

If you want to ride the cable cars, the end of the Powell Street line (and boarding) is on the same side of Market as Rite Aid, but down closer to the Westfield Mall. Last time I rode the cable cars (and it's been a few years) they were $4. The cost has probably gone up and it is a good idea to have correct change. There will be long lines so be prepared to wait.

Old fashioned trolleys run up and down Market to the Ferry Building, Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf which are way too far to walk. Not sure of the cost, since we had the car and drove to the Ferry Building. One fun thing to do might be to catch a pedi-cab (tricycle with a back seat for 2) from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 or Ghirardelli Square.

Directly across 4th is the Metreon Center and Yerba Buena Park. They had a free concert of opera in the park the day we were there. The Metreon has several nice places to grab a quick meal. One is called Just Desserts and looks very promising.

Those who want to see the Pacific Ocean up close, the
nearest place is at the Ferry Building at the end of Market on Embarcadero. If you'd like to see authentic California wild life, dozens (sometimes hundreds) of California sea lions hang out on several of the slips at the marina next to Pier 39. (You will hear and smell them long before you see them!)

To actually find a beach, the
closest will be near Fort Mason a short distance from the foot of the Golden Gate bridge. You'll need a vehicle (private or taxi) to get there. The prettiest is Sunset Beach. Go via The Cliff House for a spectacular view.

San Francisco is a unique and beautiful city and if you are going there for the conference, I hope you take a few hours to look around. You'll be glad you did!

Any specific questions? Ask away in the comments, or send me a private email via my website!


Helen said...

I want to be there and I really want to hear all about it when you get back the city sounds fantastic and we have lots of Westfields here in Australia.
Have lots of fun everyone enjoy

Marie Force said...

Great info, Aunty. Thanks for taking an advance trip to get the lowdown for us! I love San Fran so much! The last time I was there was in 06 with the family. The kids loved it almost as much as I do.

jo robertson said...

Great information, Cindy. Thanks for doing that for everyone!

Ginar Robinson said...

Thanks for sharing this great info, Cindy! Do you know anything about taxis in the city? Are they hard to catch? Expensive? And how safe will it be to walk between the two RWA hotels at night?

Gemma Halliday said...

Great post! Can I ask about parking? I'll be driving in and I know that the hotel charges $50 a night for parking. (Ouch!) Did you see any other lots near the hotel that looked safe and maybe a bit cheaper?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I do so wish you were going! I'm still hoping to make it back to Australia in a couple of years.

And Marie, there are TONS of fun things for the kidlets to do. They are probably mad at you for leaving them home this time.

terrio said...

Thanks again for this great info. I'm getting worried about finding time to do everything with the conference and still get out to see the sights. I'll have a few hours after my plane arrives on Wed. before I have to report for volunteer duty. Hopefully I can get some walking in then.

Gemma - $50 a day?! That's just crazy. I sure hope you manage to find something cheaper.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Taxi will be plentyful at the hotel and in most of the popular tourist spots. I haven't ridden in one in years, but I heard someone else say that you can go most anyplace within the city for $15.

Not sure of the location of the other hotel, but I would advise walking with a buddy or two ANYWHERE in the Market/Mission street area after about 9 pm when the stores close.

Linda Warren said...

Thanks for all the info.
Since I'm in a wheelchair, I was wondering about handicap accessibility from the airport or taxi's in general. I intend to research that this week, but if you know that would be great.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Will you be driving in every day or just leaving your car? If the latter, the hotel probably is the safest but OUCH is right!

The Mascone Center, directly across 4th has $10 per day "early bird" parking (I saw a sign) entrance is on Mission. There's also a public lot 2 blocks down on 4th and Howard that said $20 per day. Not sure if they have long term, and the lot is open, not a building of any covering which can be a bit dicey.

If you are driving in each day, I recommend you try BART. There's a station at 5th and Market and also a station for both BART and Muni inside Westfield on the lower level.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Jo-Mama Thanx for popping by! We are gonna have such a blast!

Terrio, I hope we can connect BEFORE you start your volunteer duties on Wed. I'd LOVE to walk you up to Chinatown if you aren't too jet lagged. I swear you will see, hear, and smell things there you will not encounter anywhere this side of Shanghai!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

San Francisco has been in the forefront of making everything handicap accessible. I know that BART in particular has made everything available for wheelchairs. The airport is also excellent.

As I said, I have limited personal experience with taxis, and Chinatown (which is on some of steepest inclines in the city) might be a bit of a challenge. But I think you will be pleasantly surprised that most other places have good access. I'm sure you know some good reference sites on the Net.

Look forward to seeing you!

Jane said...

I'm so jealous. I love San Francisco. I've only been there once. It's so beautiful. We drove down Lombard Street(World's crookedest street.)

terrio said...

AC - I'd love to meet up before the signing. And I really wish your book was out already so you'd be taking part. I have REALLY bad knees so walking all that way then walking for three hours selling raffle tickets might now work.

But, if we could grab one of those tricycle things, I could probably make it. LOL! I get in just after 1 and figure I'll get to the hotel closer to 2. I'll email you my cell number before then.

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks, Cindy! I'll be staying at the hotel, so I do want somewhere secure to park for a few days. Sigh. Should have known parking would kill me. Lol!


terrio said...

You know, Gemma, if you offer to drive some of us to the farther sights, we could all contribute to your parking fund. :)

Just sayin'...

Gina Robinson said...

Thanks for answering my questions!

Anonymous said...

Aunty Cindy, thanks for the great post. I was the one who posted to the PRO list about my ugly and frightening experience with a homeless person the last time I was in San Francisco.

We live in the Seattle are, which also has a large homeless population. I've never seen anything like what happened in San Francisco. I love SF, too, and I'm looking forward to National, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little worried about another encounter like the one I had previously.

Here's to safe travels and fun for everyone!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Gina, you're very welcome. Feel free to ask more. :-)

Jane, I've driven my car down that section of Lombard Street exactly once. SCARY! Much better to walk down. And it is really close to Pier39/Fisherman's Wharf if anyone is curious.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I've had run-ins with homeless (mentally ill, drunk, or high) right here in my home town, so unfortunately, it does happen in just about any sizable city. That's why I always advise people not to walk alone after dark.

Being alone should not be a problem at RWA National! Romance writers are BY FAR some of the nicest and most friendly people in the world. Even the big name authors are very approachable. I've no doubt it will be a WONDERFUL conference!

Can't WAIT!

Linda Warren said...

Aunty Cindy,
Thank you so much for the info. It's a relief to know SF is handicap friendly.
Looking forward to meeting you, too.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Linda and All,
I'm happy if any info I've provided has been helpful.

If ANY of you see me at the conference, be SURE to shout out HI! I'll do the same. ;-)