Monday, January 9, 2012

San Fransisco, USA

Executive summary by Darmansjah


Best For Views
Film buffs say Hitchook was right: seen from below at Fort Point, the 1,280metre Golden Gate Bridge includes vertigo also, try the north-end lookout at Marins’s Vista Point and watch gusts of fog billow through bridge cables like dry ice (; southbound car toll US$6.50).

Best For History
Until 1963, the island of Alcatraz was a maximum-security prison, holding famous crime bosses such as al capone. Ferries leave from Pier 33. the fare includes entrance to the park (day only) and an audio tour of the prison cells. Book ahead (; day or night US$26 or US$33).

Best For Whales
December to May is peak season for whale-watching. The Oceanic Society leads whale-watching expeditions from Yacht Harbor. Trips depart from Fort Mason and last about six hours (; Fort Mason Quarters 35; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; tours from US$90).

Best For Art
San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art has arguably the world’s leading photography collection, with works by Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange (00 1 415 357 4000; 151 3rd Street; 11am-5.45pm Mon, Tues and Fri-Sun, 11am-8.45pm Thurs; US$18)

Best For Parks
Everything that San Franciscans hold dear can be found at Golden Gate Park: free thinkers, free music, redwoods, Frisbees and fine art. Park information is available at Mclaren Lodge (00 1 415 831 2700;; Stanyan St; Mon-Fri; free).

Eat And Drink

Francis Ford Coppola drafted The Godfather at Caffe Trieste and local Poet Laureate Lawrence Feringhetti still drops in. Soonets decorate the bathroom walls, opera plays on the jukebox and there are accordian sessions on Sundays (00 1 415 392 6739;; 601 Vallejo St; lunch and dinner; coffee US$3.20).

Mexican la Taqueria serves fantastic burriots: perfectly grilled meats, flavouful beans and classic salsa inside a four tortilla, with optional homemad spicy pikled vegetables and creme fraiche (00 1 415 285 7117; 2889 Mission St; lunch and dinner; burritos from US$4).
At Hog Island Oyster Bar local Tomales Bay oysters are served with superb condimentss and a glass of bubbly. Oysters cost 65p on Monday and Thursday happy hours, from 5pm to 7pm (00 1 415 391 7117;; 1 Fery Bldg; lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, lunch Sat and Sun; oyster samplers from Us$16).

Dine on scallops, organic melon and Tsar Nicoulai caviar at Jardiniere, where Chef Tace Des jardins is a multiple winner of the James Beard Foundation Award. All ingredients are local, sustainable and seasonal (00 1 45 861 5555;; 300 Grove St; dinner, mains from US$20).

Don’t expect to be given a menu at reservation-only Jai Yun. Instead, indulged in 12-to 16-course Shanghai style feast in the mirrored interior (00 1 415 981 7438;; 680 Clay St; lunch and dinner Fri-Wed; mutlicourse banquets from US$46).

Why Go
Even if San Fransisco’s streets aren’t paved with gold, they are spalshed with rainvow-coloured murals and the skies over North Beach are ruled by trash-talking parrots. Whimsical Victorian rooflines zigzag up and down the city’s 43 hills, while yer-round parades are all the execute you need to throw on a boa.

When To Go
With its foggy micro-climate, San Fransisco’s weather can be variable. April and May bring cherry blossoms and the mid-May Carnival. September and October are the warmest months  of the year, while Julyu and August are known for rolling fog.

How To Go
Singapore Airlines ( files direct from singapore Changi International Airport to San Fransisco. From airport, the Brazil train shuttle runs to the city centre (

Find Your Way

The Dakota Hotel is a 42-room hostel-cum-hotel in 1 1920s property. Rooms are basic but good value, with a retro 1970s character, satin quits and pastel-coloured paint scehemes, and they also have clawfoot baths. Alas, the lift is temperamental (00 1 415 9317475; 606 Post St at Taylor St; from US$62).
A budget hotel for anrt fans, Hotel Des Arts has rooms painted with jaw-dropping murals by underground street artists. It’s like sleeping inside a painting. Standard rooms are less exciting (and some are without bathrooms), but great value with smart design touches (00 1 415 956 3232;; 447 Bush St; from US$145).
Parker Guest House is the Castro district’s most stately gay-and straight-friendly digs occupying two Edwardian mansions. Details are elegant, but never precious. Rooms are stylishly furnished with super comfortable beds. The garden is ideal for a lovers’ tryst (00 1 415 621 3222;; 520 Church St; from US$165).
Like a love letter to the jazz era, Hotel Boeheme has inverted Chinese umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and photos from the Beat years on the walls. Rooms are smallish but the hotel is the middle of North Beach’s Vibrant street scene (00 1 415 433 9111;; 444 Columbus Ave; from US$180).
The Farimont is one of the city’s legendary hotels. The lobby is decked out with crystal chandelers, marble floors and towering yellow-marble columns. Room sport luxurious, Regency style furniture and a royal blue-and-gold colour scheme (00 1 415 772 5000;; 950 Mson St; from US$260).

Your Recommendations

North side
Panoramic veiws of San Francisco abound at Cavallo Point Resort (previously Fort Baker). Select a contemporary room with soaking tub and foor-to-ceilling windows framing the Golden Gate Bridge, or snuggle up in former historic officers’s quarters, complete with fireplace and downy quits. As the sun sets over the bay, watch the twinkling lights of the city from rocking chairs on the veranda before dining at Michelin-starred Murray Circle restaurant (; from US$570). Diana Russler.

Bonjour Vietnam
Le Colonial is an exquisite French-Vietnamese restaurant with a romantic setting. You fee as if you’ve beent transported to Vietnam. The steamed Chilean sea bass wrapped in banana leaves, finished with the banana split, is a requisite. This was the highlight of my trip (00 1 415 931 3600;; 20 Cosmo Place;mains US$16-US$33). Asyha Begum.

The World On Tap
The Monk’s Kettle has the most amazing array of beers, probably over 100. it is quite an eye-opener to see the number of taps behind the bar. There is also a great selection of wine, and the best veggie (well vegan actually) chilli I have ever tasted, and I normally avoid veggie food! I cannot fault it at all (00 1 415 865 9523;; 3141 16th St; noon-2am; beers from US$5, mains US$8-Us$28). Alison Strong.

Getting Around
It’s easy to get around the city on MUNI buses, trams and BART trains (single fare Us$1.50; Taxis are plentiful and can be flagged down or pre-booked. Try the fuel-efficient Green Cab (from US$3;

Typical cost
Russian River Valley pinot Noir from US$20
Mid-range meal US$24-US$40
Mid-range hotel US$120-US$245
High-end hotel from US$245

Find out more
Lonely Planet’s San Francisco is a comprehensive guide to the city. While San Francisco Encounter is a pocket-size edition. You can also dowload the chapter from the California guide at get to know the city better in Armistead Maupin’s mary Ann in Autumn. For pratical information, log on to

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