Day One: Tour of the Haight-Ashbury (Hippie District) and the Castro (Gay Community), An Afternoon in Golden Gate Park, Dinner in an Alley and Drinks in the Clouds.

 

Nina poses behind the sign for the Positively Haight Street Store on Haight and Masonic, known as the most “high-end” hippie shop, full of tie-dye shirts, Grateful Dead posters and smoking paraphernalia. (Believe it or not, Nina bought this tie-dye heart shirt at a trendy yoga wear shop in Boulder).

The Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park was a bit disappointing. It had hardly any flowers and the sprinklers were running in the middle of the day! The most memorable feature of the garden was the gate.

No need to visit Redwood or Yosemite, this giant tree was right alongside the road in Golden Gate Park.

It cost extra to visit the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, but it was well worth it!

Nina stands at the entrance to the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden.

The garden was truly breathtaking.

We can only hope that our koi fish get this big one day!

This beautiful bridge was quite a climb!

Nina wanted to buy one of these statues in the many garden shops of Japantown for our tiny koi pond...too bad they cost a fortune and weigh a ton!

These egret and heron statues are beautiful too!

Apparently, the concept of the pagoda was started in India.

We could have spent hours in this beautiful, peaceful, garden staring at giant fish!

A beautiful statue of Buddha given to the city of San Francisco by one of her sister-cities, Osaka, Japan.

Nina poses in front of an archway in a skirt and a tank top (this would be the last warm day during our trip). While the temperatures remained in the 60s, the wind chill factor was unbearable and both of us returned home with sore throats and colds.

Nina stands in the Golden Gate Rose Garden amongst award winning rose bushes, some of which have names that are truly ridiculous, like Lady Olivia's Pink Purse.

Turtles on a log in Stowe Lake.

The Chinese Moon Viewing Pavilion on Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stowe Lake.

The pavilion was lovely and offered beautiful views of the park.

Nina liked this parade of warriors, ships and Chinese foo dogs along the edge of the roof of the pavilion. It reminds her of Santa, his sleigh and his team of reindeer.

After spending several hours wandering around Gold Gate Park and getting completely lost, we were thrilled to return to the Haight-Ashbury district for a very, very late lunch at the People's Café.

Next, we took one of many, very exciting, if not mildly frightening, bus rides to the Castro area. It was immediately apparent that Castro is a very friendly and welcoming area of the city. Throughout our time in the city friendly people would immediately approach us and offer us directions as soon as they saw us take out our map. The entire city felt “warm and fuzzy” (with the exception of some rather bizarre characters on the local buses...).

The famous Castro theater, across the street from the Harvey Milk Plaza, with it's huge rainbow flag, a memorial to the openly gay politician who was slain.

Nina discovered this lovely mural on a side street.

Nina had a laugh after being hit on by a woman in a hardware shop while Chris was off buying a hat. We noticed that not only were the gay men very good-looking, they also had ridiculously straight posture!

That night, we had a lovely dinner in an alley, crammed between two streets and filled with non-stop restaurants with outdoor seating. While dinner on Belden Place was lovely and charming, it turned out to be our most expensive meal (and Nina only had soup and salad and the soup came in a tiny tea-cup!).

 

A view from the Carnelian Room, 52 stories above the bustling streets of San Francisco.

Fog starts to roll over the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun begins to set.

 
 

Chris sits back and enjoys his vacation and his Mai Tai (which apparently is not Hawaiian but actually a San Francisco original).

Night-time falls upon San Francisco. By this time, we were deep in conversation with a family from Barcelona (Gerard, Maria and Tony), who doesn't like American coffee and supports Barack Obama.

 
 

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