Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Palace

A few weekends ago we had a mini vacation and spent the weekend in San Francisco. The Palace Hotel had a great deal on hotel rooms for weekends in April-June (good for SF and considering what it normally costs to stay there), so we took advantage of it and treated ourselves to some royal accommodations.

The door knob to our room.

King size bed, 9 ft ceilings, his and hers bathrobes. No view, but I really wouldn't have been able to sleep if we were facing the street.

I didn't realize it was the weekend of Mother's Day when I made the reservations, but it turned out to not really affect us. We just decided to not have breakfast Sunday morning when the special Mother's Day brunch cost $100 per person. We did, however, indulge in breakfast in the stunning Garden Court on Saturday morning. It was still outrageous but when the restaurant looks like this, how could you not.

It's fun to play tourist in your own (near) backyard. I urge you to do it. Explore your nearest city as though you're a visitor, which of course you are unless you live right there. You don't have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to be a tourist.

The Palace Hotel is located right in the heart of downtown. We parked our car at a BART station south of the city and rode in, saving on parking and gas. There happens to be a BART station right around the corner from the Palace Hotel entrance so we didn't have far to walk. It couldn't have been any closer unless it was inside the hotel. After checking in (and admiring the room), we walked up to Chinatown and enjoyed some typical (Americanized) Chinese food. The highlight of the evening was not the food but the unexpected entertainment. The restaurant was on the second floor, right next to Old St. Mary's Church, which was the view out the window by our table. I guess the church was also a very popular spot for coach buses to drop off and pick up tour groups. We watched, with some amusement, at one of these groups of tourists as they waited for their bus. They were all dressed in summer attire, many in shirts that matched their spouses. Now anyone who lives or has visited here knows that summer in San Francisco is downright cold and shorts are definitely not a good thing to be wearing at 9:00 at night. The tour group members were a bit chilled to say the least and huddled together. We couldn't help but compare them to sheep. Sorry. But they seemed to be in good spirits, despite their constant hopping up and down to stay warm. One gentleman in shorts and sandals danced and twirled about, giving everyone a show.

Saturday, after lingering at breakfast for a long time to enjoy every taste, smell, and sight of the lovely Garden Court restaurant, we set out for Golden Gate Park. We rode Muni, which was surprisingly easy and convenient. Our primary destination for the day was the de Young Museum, specifically to see the exhibit on International Arts and Crafts, as in William Morris and Frank Lloyd Wright, not construction paper and glue. The exhibit, which included furniture, pottery, textiles, and metal and glasswork, was wonderful. One of my favorites was a dress. The fabric was white cotton embroidered with dainty purple flowers scattered throughout the cloth. The design was simple, showing a movement away from the restricting corsets of the time. It was a dress that could be worn even today. I stared at it for a long time. Unfortunately photography was not allowed. I'd hoped that the dress would be pictured in the exhibition catalog but unfortunately it is not.

After the museum we walked through Golden Gate Park, saw the buffaloes, and then caught the Muni to ride back to the hotel. We had planned on spending the evening at a local radio station's outdoor "bash", called Kaboom. Every year they put on free concerts and have a huge fireworks display. Last year we happened to be in the city the day of this event and stayed to watch the fireworks. We miscalculated the location (tip to visitors: odd numbered piers are north of the Bay Bridge and even numbered ones are south of the bridge!) so we watched the fireworks from a different pier. I actually planned this weekend to coincide with Kaboom, figuring it'd be a fun evening and we'd get to enjoy the concerts this year too. Well, that was not to be. Maybe I've gotten too old to enjoy being in a huge...no, massive, crowd. We arrived just in time for the second band and about 3 hours before the fireworks show was scheduled to begin. We managed to make our way to the food vendors and purchased some over-priced, but thankfully tasty, teriyaki chicken and rice bowls, but then found that there was nowhere to sit down. There was no where to go actually. We got caught up in a mass movement of people walking between the overflow of people watching the concert (we could hear it but couldn't see a thing) and an area at the end of the pier that was cordoned off by barricades for families who'd settled in with strollers, chairs and blankets to watch the fireworks. They'd probably already been there for two hours, since the event opened at 4pm. We shuffled along trying to grab bites of food while we avoided the drunks, moved out of the way of strollers (sometimes not successfully) and passed people coming from where ever it was we were headed. We had no idea where we were going and soon we realized the entire thing was silly. We turned around, found a spot where we could at least stand out of the way, finished our meals, and left. Incredibly there was a steady stream and long line of people still trying to get in. Later we walked from the hotel back towards the Embarcadero and watched the fireworks from there. I have to say that although it was a grand display, I was more impressed last year. Perhaps because I'd seen it for the first time last year.

A better entertainment Saturday night was watching the prom-kids. They were everywhere, including the lavish Garden Court restaurant at our hotel. Stretch white Hummer limos were a common site, as were the dressed up kids walking about the streets on there way to, or having already ditched, their Prom. We got a laugh out of how some of the boys looked - baseball caps to match their duds - and we cringed at some of the revealing dresses on some of the girls. I think we were both glad not to be parents of a teenager.

Sunday morning arrived too quickly and my husband had to leave to catch a flight to Seattle, but again, BART made that task pretty simple. Yay BART! I took advantage of a late checkout to shop in Union Square. I popped into H&M but decided that I'd rather make half the stuff they had for sale there. I wandered into Saks Fifth Avenue because it was there and I was there. Oh. My. All I could think was that I'm glad that I sew. I had to blink my eyes to make sure that I was reading the price tags correctly. Four digits on most of them, although they did have jeans for a mere $270. I left and headed for one of my intended destinations that day: Britex. Yes, my stash overflows and then some, but this is Britex. I missed one of their big sales, 20% off of everything, by two days. Boo hoo! But that was probably a good thing. I would have been inspired by the "it's on sale" factor and bought more than I should have. Well, buying any fabric is probably more than I should buy but I did anyway. I bought three pieces: a cotton lycra print in brown and mint colors, a beautiful rayon/acetate that I just had to have but I'm not sure what I'll use it for, and I honestly can't remember the third piece. Shut up. At the time I felt that I had to buy it. From Britex I grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and then visited my second must-visit destination: Art Fibers. I'd never been there before but had heard rave reviews. It did not disappoint. Of course I bought yarn.

Art Fibers was my last stop. My feet hurt and it was getting near to my late-checkout time, so I walked back to the Palace, packed up my things, snapped a few photos, and walked the whole 1/4 block to the BART station. I arrived home to find whiny cats and a sprinkler that had broken and must have been on all day, judging from the amount of very wet soil. I definitely had a fun weekend though and I really, really enjoyed feeling high class in our room at the Palace Hotel. We'll do it again sometime for sure.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love ArtFibers and Britex - I make a stop to each every time I'm in SF visiting family!