Monday, October 26, 2015

Going Gaga for Ghirardelli

We ended our San Francisco visit on a sweet note!
October 6, 2015

It was about 6:30 p.m. when we reached Aquatic Park at the west end of Fisherman's Wharf. Again, I wished for more time to explore. But we resolutely pressed on to our goal: Ghirardelli Square, the birthplace of delicious Ghirardelli chocolates.

Aquatic Park, San Francisco, has a small beach and ships to tour.

From Aquatic Park, all we had to do was turn around and look uphill, and there it was, a shining beacon to chocoholics everywhere...

Ghirardelli Square on the hill above Aquatic park.
That sign was once a beacon to sailors entering the bay.

As with everywhere else we had been on this busy Tuesday in San Francisco, there is a lot more to see and do at Ghirardelli Square that you'd first suppose. We weren't able to try any of the restaurants or view the old chocolate-making equipment or check out every shop.

A mermaid fountain in the center of Ghirardelli Square.

But we did get to see two different chocolate shops in the square, where we were met at the door with free samples in both places. And we did make time to enjoy Ghirardelli's famous hot fudge sundaes (well, Dylan got a banana split) for dessert before we hiked back to the car at the end of the night.

The first chocolate shop.

Dylan heads toward the second chocolate shop.

Sweetness everywhere!

Sarah and Mark are ready to dig in!

Chris checks out Dylan's banana split.

When we finished our desserts around 8:00, we returned to the parking garage to get the car. Our next stop was going to be the famously steep, crooked section of Lombard Street that is featured so often in movies. It was, of course, dark by the time we arrived at the top of the street, but the kids were still able to see how winding and steep it was. In fact, it made Chris so nervous that he asked to be let out of the car. (We made him tough it out. Twice.) I was disappointed that it was too dark to get a good picture of Lombard Street itself.

My picture from the top of Lombard Street.

But the view! As we sat at the top of the block waiting to start down, San Francisco was laid out before us in stunning magnificence. I wanted to capture the glittering distance on film, but my poor little camera wasn't up to the challenge. To see the amazing difference of shooting with an quality camera like Dylan's, check out the next two photos, taken by Dylan from the top of Lombard Street.

The view from the top of Lombard Street, by Dylan.

In the center of the above photo you can see Coit Tower in the Telegraph Hill district (recently destroyed by earthquake in the film San Andreas). I really wanted to go there, too, but by now Pioneer Park, where the tower is located, was closed for the night.

The view from the top of Lombard Street, by Dylan.

The narrow streets of Chinatown in San Francisco.

Before we left San Francisco, Dylan wanted to drive through Chinatown, just so he could say he'd done it. We found the area but didn't spend too much time. By now it was 9:00 and most businesses were closed. Except for all the signs being printed in Chinese characters, it didn't look all that different than the rest of the city. Again, I could devote a whole extra day to exploring areas like this, to discover the local culture. On this night, we didn't even find the Dragon Gate at the entrance to Chinatown's shops. Maybe next time.

A final crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, heading back north.

By 9:30 we were once again driving over the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge on our way back to Windsor. By 10:30 we were back in our condo and ready to snuggle into our beds, totally exhausted but filled with happy memories of a wonderfully busy San Francisco day.

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