We started the day well – with a fantastic breakfast on top of the Mark… One could choose from two types of omelettes, three types of smoked fish, dim sum, waffles, French toast, curds, porridge, you name it! My favorite is their fruit smoothie.
After breakfast we went on a city tour. Our guide, Malcolm, spoke some Russian, and was very pleasant. He also spoke Italian, and the tour was in two languages. Good for me – I suddenly remembered a lot of forgotten Italian words… It was a very different tour from what we had with my parents – the bus was small, there were only 5 of us, and we could go to less touristy places. I was happy to see the house of Janice Joplin, for example. I really enjoyed the Alamo square, and my husband loved the City hall square with it majestic, imperial architecture and large open spaces.
We were also happy with the bay cruise – we passed under the Golden Gates bridge and could see infamous Alcatraz from every angle. But the most exciting part was to watch the show run of gigantic catamarans on the bay. Later we walked through the America’s Cup grounds and took some photos of yachts, boats and schooners.
We walked along Embarcadero, went through the Fisherman’s Warf Market, crossed the business center and slowly made it back to our hotel. As luck would have it, Lyuda twisted her ankle stepping out from the bus – and walking was quite painful for her. We got elastic bandages in a Walgreens next to the hotel and kept our fingers crossed that there was no serious damage. Now she was awarded a title "Lamefoot Sibirian"... (Chromonozhka Sibirskaya).
Thursday, August 22, 2013. Crescent City - San Francisco
We got up early and ate our breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. When we were just checking in, they handed us a hotel card with the number of persons eligible to eat at the hotel’s expense on it. Believe it or not, but they did request that card – and actually took it from us… What if you decide to stay longer? And then again, why would you decide to stay longer in Crescent City?
The breakfast itself was plentiful. The only tricky part was that the waitress was to bring you a big plate to be filled up at the smorges bord…And our waitress gave us two plates for three people. Well, I had to straighten that. The ambience is a surprising one: it feels like you are permanently frozen in Christmas time: wood panels, Christmas lights – and even fake Christmas garlands around the perimeter.
It took us about 15 minutes to get to The Trees of Mystery in Clamath, California. Paul Bunyan was still greeting visitors like two years ago. It was still cold and misty. The trees were still tall and mysterious, like they were supposed to. We went up the sky trail just for the fun of it, even though the view was concealed by the mist. It gives you the feel for the height of the trees, though.
Next stop was in Trinidad. The wind was mercilessly cold. We almost ran into the shelter of the seaside restaurant. It welcomed us with the din of many voices, fire in the fireplace, and the aroma of home cooking. We ate clam chowder and fried halibut… Hot tea and honey… And then the sun came out! We went back to the pier and watched the fishermen feeding gulls and sea lions with leftovers… The sun painted the bay with deep green and blue; the fog burned off and suddenly we could see the rocks jutting out in the bay – some shaped like fantastic animals… and dozens of small fishing boats…
From Trinidad we drove about 40 miles to the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants. The most exciting thing about it is that one can actually walk in the forest. We ran about, climbed fallen trunks, measured gigantic sequoias, took tons of pictures and had fun!
We passed Benbow Inn and got more gas in Garberville. Here Ivan got behind the wheel. We still had about 200 miles to go. The road was not very easy, it cut through the mountains, and had too many sharp turns to my liking. Eventually we made it to Mendocino county, and drove among vineyards and small sunny towns.
We crossed the Golden Gates Bridge already in the dark. The toll gates now use only electronic tolling – we were a bit shocked, but hey – Seattle has “Good To Go” system on 520 bridge, too. Driving in the dark on a Friday night in San Francisco is an adrenalin rush enough for anyone, and I would not call my husband an adventurous person. And Mark Hopkins sits on top of the hill! We were very happy to get rid of the car and collapsed on our beds.