Sightseeing by car is a completely different story than sightseeing on foot and by public transportation. A car gives you the freedom and flexibility to go wherever you want whenever you want, and you get to discover new places you would have otherwise never encountered or thought of seeking out. And of course, this way of traveling is much nicer on your feet.
We had planned to hike the Golden Gate Bridge the day before, but the weather put a stop to that. So to make up for that we started our day on the other side of the bridge in Horseshoe Bay, where we had a little photo shoot with the bridge. It's a very beautiful area across the bridge in Marin County, and it's hard to believe it's so close to the city.
After we crossed the bridge by car and paid the high toll, we made our way to Japantown for a yakiniku (grilled meat) lunch at Osakaya. Ever since Yasu and I first had that lunch last year and posted a picture on facebook, my mom had wanted to eat that. We like Osakaya's yakiniku so much that it's somehow impossible for us to have a meal at any other restaurant in Japantown. Somehow the memory of their yakiniku keeps pulling us back into their restaurant. We even had Yasu's birthday party here and tried to convince as many people as we could to try the yakiniku. I'm happy to report that the Dutchies enjoyed it too.
After lunch, we drove to one of my favorite places from our last road trip in 2006: Twin Peaks. I hadn't been there since and I was so happy to be back. I really wanted to show Yasu the amazing view from the second-highest point in San Francisco, right in the center of the city. We were not dissapointed.
You can see far and wide from Twin Peaks and there is so much to see that it's hard to leave. Having lived here for almost a year now, I can now recognize streets and buildings. I was amazed to see how long Market Street really is and I could see all the way to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero from there.
San Francisco is huge and there's a lot of city here, but there's also lots of nature, especially compared to big Japanese cities. And what I love most is that there are so many beaches near and in the city. Yesterday, we made a quick stop at Aquatic Park near Fisherman's Wharf. Today, we paid Ocean Beach a visit. It's a long beach (5 miles / 8 km) that stretches all along the west side of San Francisco, and it's so pleasant and peaceful there. We should come back here someday when it's hot (if that ever happens in this city).
Something else we'd done back in 2006 and wanted Yasu to experience is driving down crooked Lombard street. Many people think it's the crookedest street in the city, but that honor belongs to less well-known Vermont street. Last time I drove down Lombard Street and making the turn from Hyde into Lombard was quite scary, because I really hate steep streets. I wanted to go back but I couldn't because there was a line of cars behind me ready to follow me down that crooked and beautiful street. So I powered through and it wasn't that scary after all, because of all those turns. This time Guido drove Lombard Street and I just got to admire the pretty houses and flowers.
Our last sightseeing stop by car was Coit Tower. This was new for us Dutchies, Yasu already visited and climbed the tower last year during a school trip. We didn't climb the tower because we were running out of time, Yasu had to get back to school on time for his evening class. But we did enjoy another beautiful view from the top of the hill and I finally got to take some decent pictures of this small tower.
Then we discovered the downside of driving in San Francisco. It's when you're in a hurry to get someone to a school that's located near busy Market Street. Traffic there is just terrible especially in the late afternoon. Yasu would have been at school and back a dozen times by BART (that zooms by underground), but by car... To make a long story short, Yasu was late for the first time ever. And while Yasu was being studious at school we were having dinner at IHOP.
Tomorrow we go on our first (mini) road trip, up north in California. So it's time to pack our suitcases!