Road Trip: San Francisco Day 4 - Muir Woods and Tomasso’s

We decided to go North this time, having explored the South of San Francisco and San Jose. We drove up to the Golden Gate Bridge and took many photos of that landmark.

What was striking about San Francisco is the number of people who cycle. There are bike lanes everywhere, and people cycle to work, to play and to tour. At the bridge, you can cycle or walk across (pedestrians are not allowed after 9pm) or you can drive.

I miss my bicycle. I also miss my kids and missus.

We are using maps to get around but whenever we enter the city, we turn on the N95’s GPS to find places. The GPS does not seem to work that well on the highway, partly because you have to download so much map data (and rack up mobile data charges) and because it keeps giving us a route we don’t want to take.

We usually take the obvious big highway route to the cities we plan to go to, and the phone’s GPS would suggest something else Anyway, with large clear signs and a very sophisticated highway network, it is hard to really get lost on American highways.

In the cities though, the GPS is extremely handy so we use it to get to specific addresses.

North of the Golden Gate Bridge is Sausalito, a picturesque town that is just 15 minutes from San Francisco. Here the skies are clear and not foggy and there is housing on the hillside and small little shops along the Bridgeway. It is better to hang out at Caledonia Street though, one street parallel to the Bridgeway. Less tourists. But it was quiet on both streets when we were there on a weekday afternoon.

Ryan and I ate at The Lighthouse Coffee Shop, open for breakfast and lunch, till 3pm. We were the last customers there, and tucked in to some Danish meatballs and the Special (some chicken and sausage fried with eggs). Coffee was served right away, when we sat down at a booth next to the window.

It looks like a working class diner but be prepared to pay Sausalito prices. It is not very expensive but not cheap either. Big portions though (what American restaurant serves small portions anyway?).

I wish we had time to just sit at the park across from the coffee shop and read or look at the view, but we had our next destination to go to.

The Muir Woods are home to huge coastal redwoods. Bring a jacket, because it can get nippy in there. Even the drive to the woods, up a winding hill road was scenic. Though the drive can be a little scary if you are not used to this kind of road.

You can do some serious trekking or just walk the boardwalk path. We did a little of both. It costs USD3 to get in and you can buy a hiking map for USD1 (from a box that you can just lift the cover without paying, so I guess it is all based on trust).

After our little forest adventure, we drove back towards the Golden Gate Bridge (must pay USD5 toll, chao turtle!) and I made Ryan drive through Lombard Street. There is one portion of it that is really crooked and you can follow all the silly tourists trying to drive through it while their companions take their photos from below the hill.

We were really heading for Tomasso’s, a famous pizza joint at Kearny Street, sandwiched between XXX shops. We parked at Columbus Avenue and walked there. There are no reservations, and you just show up, give your name and wait for them to call your name. Usually about 30 to 45 minutes wait. No pagers, no fancy system.

Ryan and I shared a 15-inch sausage/mushroom pizza and it was very good. They use a wood-fired brick oven that gives their pizzas a smokey aroma. And the pizza recipes have not changed since the 1930s, when they opened, it seems.

We ended the evening at City Lights book store, the infamous San Francisco literary landmark. I picked up Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. Being in a bookstore always makes me happy. And you can tell this bookstore loves books and reading.

Then, overloaded with carbs, we drove an hour back to San Jose.

Photos taken with an N95 kindly supplied by our sponsor, Nokia

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