Subject: San Francisco Travelogue, Part 1
Dear Ziners,

My family (me, my husband Jerry, our daughter Charlotte) traveled to San Francisco two weeks ago for a long weekend. My brother Andy lives there, in the Marina (really its Cow Hollow) district, and we stayed with him, so I have no hotel recommendations this time.

The weather was beautiful, a bit warmer than I expected. We are a family of good eaters, so I will mention the meals....

We flew out from Chicago early Friday morning, Andy collected us at the airport and we drove straight to Fisherman's Wharf. Yes, I can see many of you wincing, rest assured that we went to the Wharf to eat a particular California delicacy, the In-and-Out hamburger. My cheeseburger was most tasty, the chocolate shake more like the McDonalds style than homemade, a bit disappointing. The fries were okay. Next time I will just have the burger, which was very good.

After lunch, we loaded the parking meter and hopped a cable car to Chinatown, just to walk around and see the shops. We had a grand time just goofing off with the Halloween merchandise, Andy and I looked at cleavers as well. After Chinatown, we walked over the the newly refurbished Union Square. It's much nicer than the old one. We went into Nieman Marcus and up to the top to admire the restaurant, then walked back to the cable car line, back to the car, back to the Marina. It was Fleet Week, so we heard the Blue Angels (jet fighter planes, flying in close formation) practicing over the Bay. For dinner we ate at Via Vai Trattoria, which satisfied the adult's desire for a delicious meal in nice surroundings and Charlotte's need for pizza margherita. I highly recommend it. The food was terrific and the waiters are smart, friendly and well, adorable. We sat on the heated patio, Andy likes to sit at the counter and socialize when flying solo.

On Day 2, Jerry and Charlotte rose very early (jet lag)and procured breakfast from the local Starbucks. We spent the morning walking the park and beach near the Palace of Arts, then toured the Exploratorium. This is a great museum, geared towards kids, but much better than the others I have visited. Andy had made reservations for the Tactile Dome for Jerry and Charlotte, necessary bacause only a few people are let in at a time, and it sells out in advance. We spent quite a long time in the museum shop, there were many items relating to science education we had never seen before. One tip: since we belong to most of the museums in Chicago, I was able to obtain free admission to the Exploratorium through a reciprocal arrangement, saving us almost $40. After all that fun, we were ravenous, and when we couldn't get a table at Barney's, we went next door to Asqew. This is a rather interesting concept, it's food on a skewer. I had balsamic braised beef on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, and a caesar salad. Charlotte had italian sausage with grilled bread, everything was very good and excellent value. You order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table. Back to Andy's apartment, charlotte napped while Jerry and I shopped along Union Street. For dinner we walked over to the Brazen Head, an old traditional tavern. Charlotte was able to have a hamburger once again, I had french onion soup and a salad, both men had steak. This is a nice, dark place with very decent food and a varied clientele. It would be easy to think that they are few residents under the age of 50 in San Francisco, everyone seems 30ish, fit, attractive, and successful.

More later.....

Elizabeth in Chicago