PJ and I traveled to San Francisco this past week. We left on Wednesday and flew back yesterday. The trip has given me lots to blog about.

We were officially in San Francisco for the conference of the American Literature Association. PJ had to attend the business meeting of the association for which he serves as treasurer. While he had to work, I had plenty of time to be a tourist. This is our third or fourth time to visit San Francisco, so we know our way around the downtown relatively well. Overall, I think the trip was a good mix of repeating things I’d seen/done before and seeing/doing new things.

This time we stayed at the Parc Fifty-Five downtown. Here’s a view of the city from our windown on the twenty-ninth floor:

Just click on the picture to enlarge it. The bit of gray showing just between some of the buildings is actually the bay. We really liked the hotel, and our room was great. My only complaint is that we later spent a small fortune on 6 gin and tonics in the hotel lounge, but they were absolutely delicious, so I guess I can’t complain too much!

I thought that I would give an overview of what I did in SF here and then write about some of the individual activities later. I also want to blog about our dining experiences even though I forgot to take pictures of my food (sorry Kathee!). I’ll try to do that before I forget everything I want to say about our dining, which was generally good.

Thursday morning I started by doing something new: I walked to the Coit Tower, which is pictured here. (just click on the picture to see a larger version.) It was a lovely day, so the walk was really nice.

In part, I was looking for something I could do early in the morning. But I had wanted to visit the tower the last time we were in SF, but I ran out of time. So, I made it the first item on my agenda this time.

After walking to the tower (and up the steep steps to get there), I had a nice rest in the park area that surrounds it. No picture can capture just how lovely it smelled walking through the shrubs and flowers.

Once I went into the tower, I was surprised that there was an elevator to take you to the top. I had just assumed that you had to walk up, which is partly why I made sure to rest before entering. The elevator takes you to a lookout room where you can get a 360-degree view of the area.

It’s a beautiful view. I don’t usually do well with heights — they give me terrible vertigo — but I didn’t feel queasy at all looking out at the bay and the city below me. Here’s a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge from inside the Tower:

Again, just click on the picture if you want a larger version. I’m clearly not a great photographer, but I hope this picture at least partially captures how lovely the day was — warm, but not too warm; sunny, but not too bright.

Inside the base of the tower there are murals depicting scenes from San Francisco history. They’re also very interesting and well worth a visit. I purchased a series of postcards of them.

After visiting the Coit Tower, I decided to walk over to Lombard Street, which is famous for its winding road. I think I may have seen it every time I’ve been to SF, but I wanted to try to get a decent picture of it. Here’s the best one:

I then walked to the Asian Art Museum, which is one of my favorite museums in the world. Since I regularly blog about my museum visits, I’ll save my thoughts about the museum for a post of its own.

In the afternoon, I walked around Union Square a bit. That evening we saw a local production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. While I usually blog about the plays we see, we both really disliked this production, so I doubt that I will write about it.

On Friday, we did a little shopping in the morning and the went to hear our friend Matthew’s paper at the conference. In the afternoon we visited the Mission Dolores, which I also intend to blog about sometime this week. That evening we met a friend for drinks, dinner, and dancing in the Castro. I was pretty exhausted from all my walking the day before, so I didn’t do that much dancing, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless.

On Saturday, we went to Alcatraz for the first time. I’ll blog about it later too. We had tried to see it last time we were in SF but couldn’t get tickets. This time we ordered ahead. When we got back, we bought salt water taffy, had a rest in our hotel, and then had an easy, early night. We flew home on Sunday.

Overall, it was a great trip. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to visiting again soon, perhaps in December. In the meantime, I’m just trying not to eat too much taffy at once!