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Last Day in San Francisco (May 9th 2019)

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Le Golden Gate Bridge à vélo !

Today, it’s already our last day in San Francisco ! Waking up around 6 a.m., it’s waking up early!! We have only one thing on our minds: a hearty, typically American breakfast in a nice place. The program isn’t particularly full, but it promises to be interesting! 

Direction Fisherman’s Wharf

After a good shower, we pack our bags, order an Uber and head for Fisherman’s Wharf once again. The Uber is much nicer than the one from the day before. He drops us off on North Point Street, opposite the restaurant Sarah has chosen for breakfast. Or perhaps I should say brunch… The establishment, whose red facade contrasts sharply with the yellow awning bearing the words “BREAKFAST”, “GRILL” and “LUNCH”, has been in business since the lovely year of 1989. It’s called the “Hollywood Café“, and its reputation seems to be well established.

Breakfast at the Hollywood Café on our last day in San Francisco

As good gourmets that we are, however, we wanted to check it out for ourselves. Although the restaurant is modest in size, the menu is extensive enough to satisfy every guest, wherever they come from, as long as they’re hungry. The menu includes dishes named after famous actors such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Vivien Leigh and Gregory Peck.

Unsurprisingly, Sarah orders a menu called Salmon Avocado Toast, consisting of whole meal bread, avocado, salmon, green salad, tomato, peppers and orange. I opt for my usual Blueberry Pancakes: “not-so-little” American blueberry pancakes with whipped cream, blackberries, orange, grapefruit, banana and strawberries; and to wash it all down, Sarah opts for an orange juice, while I choose the traditional American coffee. After this first meal of the day, we can confirm: this is a very good address!

A bit of biking on our last day in San Francisco

After the comfort… well, now it’s time for the effort! We head a block away to Basically Free Bike Rentals, a bike rental company that, in exchange for our payment, gives us a bike and helmet for three hours, as well as a voucher for the value of the rental in their partner store! It’s an opportunity for us to visit San Francisco again, but this time by bike. And as we don’t intend to take the Golden Gate Bridge by car, since we’ll be heading south, we choose to cross it by bike. We meet a French couple as we choose our helmets. 

Bike helmets and a little effort

I’ve got a rather narrow head for a man. The only model that fits me is a sky-blue women’s helmet. Sarah laughs at me. Never mind, I like this color and we’re not here for a beauty contest. 

With helmet on our heads and bag on our backs, we hop on our bikes for a ride that takes us first along the beach, then up the rugged coastline near Fort Mason‘s community gardens. We then make our way through the Marina District, taking a few photo breaks in front of the magnificent scenery, despite the cloudy weather and a sun that has decided to remain hidden today. After passing the Walt Disney Family Museum, we continue along the bike path that takes us to one of the Golden Gate Bridge‘s most iconic vantage points.

The Golden Gate Bridge by bike

Inevitably, we make another photo stop before getting back on our bikes for the moment we’ve all been waiting for: cycling across the most famous suspension bridge on the American West Coast. It’s an interesting (and indescribable) feeling. We enjoy every minute of the 17 miles of asphalt. We pass other bikes, but also numerous pedestrians and joggers. At the finish, we take a few more photos before getting back on our bikes. After crossing the famous bridge separating the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay, we turn around and head for our rental company’s partner store, which is on our way.

“North Face” nickname

Sarah chooses a burgundy sweatshirt, somewhat in keeping with the color of the bridge we’ve just crossed. It’s from a famous North American brand that will earn her, on my part, the nickname “North Face” throughout our trip. It costs $50 and, since we seem to have $10 left on our voucher, we add a bag of chocolate-covered banana pieces and two cookies. We continue our ride, taking one last look at the bay we won’t see again for several years. 

Renting a car for our last day in San Francisco (and leaving the city)

With our bikes returned, we use my smartphone to book an Uber to take us to South San Francisco to pick up our rental car. By the time we arrive at 1198 El Camino Real, it’s already 2pm. This morning’s brunch, cookies and chocolate-covered banana pieces keep me going without having to eat lunch.

Happy Wife, Happy Life!

The Avis renter is an unshaven guy with a cold face but a sympathetic tone. He makes me understand that as the N26 credit card is in Sarah’s name, she will be responsible for the vehicle and thus the main driver. Sarah teases me in front of him, and with an undisguised smile, I utter a phrase I like. And which I know always annoys Sarah: “Happy wife, happy life!“. The man behind the counter smiles and replies, “Smart man!“.

We get into our Mitsubishi Outlander and collect our suitcases from the AirBnB. We close the door and heading for a new destination we both know and love. It’s the Pacific Coast Highway, aka. Route 1!

Back on the Pacific Coast Highway!

The vehicle is pleasant to drive and swallows up the miles without difficulty. It’s equipped with an automatic transmission, as we know them on this side of the Atlantic. On the way to Monterey, our first stop on the coastal road, we stop a few times to take photos.

As in our memories, the scenery is magnificent despite today’s uncertain weather and threatening skies. At every stop, we see the same signs: “keep dogs leashed” for dog owners. Another one is “danger: stay back, unstable cliffs” for oceanfront properties. We also enjoy our playlist thanks to the car’s Bluetooth system.

The Bayside Inn, kitsch to the max

We finally arrive a little before 7 p.m. at the motel we’ve booked. It’s the Bayside Inn, for 59 euros a night, including tax and breakfast to go. The motel is an establishment straight out of the 70s, looking clean and not faded but… period! The man, of Indian origin, who welcomes us leaves us the key and gives us directions for breakfast and parking.

Our room features yellow wallpaper with traces of glue behind it, two bedside lamps from the 80s on bedside tables and a matching chest of drawers with a safe, a modest-sized microwave and tea and coffee-making equipment. At the entrance, a radio alarm clock and a corded telephone whose dumbbell-shaped handset with a red light on top tells us that the room dates back several decades. The decor is completed by a kitschy red and yellow overcoat reminiscent of the motels found throughout the United States of America, and we like it that way.

I take advantage of the hotel’s Wi-Fi connection to publish my article from the previous day. And I write the first lines of today’s. Sarah rests for a few moments and looks around for a good place to have dinner.

Sushi versus hamburgers

We’re having a hard time agreeing on tonight’s meal: while Sarah is leaning towards sushi, I’m craving an American specialty. Eventually, we get into our Mitsubishi, which we’ve named Jason (pronounced in the French way, without the accent), and head for the city center, where we hope to agree on a restaurant. After circling and dithering over the evening’s meal, we’re still unable to agree on what we’re going to eat tonight.

A goose in the middle of the road

As we drive along Pearl Street, we are surprised to see a wild goose. It quietly crosses the road, without a care in the world.

As daylight fades and the evening begins to set in, we park our trusty Jason on Del Monte Avenue near a street with numerous restaurants, including a Japanese and a burger joint. Sarah finally agrees to look at the menu of the latter, which convinces her.

Will be burgers!

We enter Sur Burger, a burger joint opened this year. I make an exception to my vegetarian diet and choose the “Sur Burger”, consisting of half a pound of Angus beef, cheddar, tomato, fried onions, lettuce and homemade sauce, accompanied by a Bud Light. Sarah chooses a similar burger but with avocado. We both agree that these are some of the best burgers we’ve had, ever!. And the fries… They’re definitely in my top 3, maybe even at the top. I’ll be having another tray before the meal is over, by the way. And to finish, Sarah has a chocolate milkshake. 

Another beautiful day!

Despite a disagreement early in the evening, we have a great time and head back, full, to the hotel, where we quickly fall asleep. Today, for our last day in San Francisco, we covered 28 kilometers (17 miles) by bike, 185 (114 miles) by car, and (only) 5 kilometers (3 miles) on foot.