San Francisco & Napa Valley With Trafalgar: Day 1

December 18, 2012

Last year, I was invited on a trip of a lifetime to France and Italy with Trafalgar, a company that has an outstanding reputation for providing affordable luxury and superior service.   In case you did not follow along on my European adventure, let me sum up the eight days with one word: revolutionary.  I must admit that I was not a fan of touring prior to traveling with them, however they have completely changed what it means to go on “a tour” and I departed that trip hoping that I would not have to wait too long before I could experience yet another one of their guided vacations.  Well, I had to wait a year, but it was worth it, because this time I was being invited to sample their San Francisco & Wine Country Delights program.

Our guided vacation began in historical San Francisco; a city of rolling hills, cable cars, and a bridge so breathtakingly beautiful that it has inspired many artists over the years.  Even the late and great Frank Sinatra left his heart there!  Our home base was the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and I knew that I would instantly love it since it had a Starbucks in the lobby and a picturesque view of the City by the Bay.

Our first lunch of the trip was at the tapas restaurant Cha Cha Cha, which serves New World Cuisine.  It is known as being somewhat of an institution in the city, since it is beloved by local residents.  My advice (if you are lucky enough to find a table): order everything on the menu and make sure to save room for their spectacular tres leches.

San Francisco, California

Once we were fully satiated, we set off on a walking tour of the iconic Haight Ashbury area — one of the sightseeing highlights of the guided vacation.  This is where the hippie generation was born.  Our Local Expert, Izu with Flower Power Walking Tour, was quite possibly the best guide I have ever encountered.  I mean how could she not be when she was dressed like this?

San Francisco, California

Izu, who was named the ‘San Francisco Bay Area tour guide of the year’, lived the 60’s like no other.  She regaled us with tales of famous musicians, activists, and writers from the era, some of whom she knew personally.  One of my favorite things about going on a Trafalgar guided vacation is that that you will constantly meet people like Izu.  They only source the best of the best; people who are incredibly passionate about showing off their little piece of the world off to others.

San Francisco, California

This hippy commune housed 70 people at one point, Izu herself lived there. It was also part of the San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury Food Bank, built by architect Bucky Fuller.

San Francisco, California
Around every corner, Izu had yet another fascinating story.  The amount of local knowledge and personal experiences that she shared with us would easily make for a bestselling novel.  It was a true insider experience!

San Francisco, California

This was the Hell’s Angels home. Across the street lived the Grateful Dead. End result: an unlikely long-lasting friendship.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

This is 709 Ashbury where the Grateful Dead lived between 1966 and 1968.

San Francisco, California

This Banksy piece was on the sidewalk in front of the Grateful Dead house.

San Francisco, California

We ended our tour in front of a beautiful freshly painted mural.  I am a big fan of grafitti.  I think it adds character to cities and San Francisco definitely has a significant street wall art culture.

Before we returned to the hotel to freshen up for dinner, we stopped at Alamo Park for a quick look at the sweeping cityscape view.

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California

Our Welcome Dinner was at the chic Sens Restaurant located in the Embarcadero Center.  There they serve Mediterranean food at its very finest amidst a glamorous atmosphere.  It was the perfect place to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and talk about our exciting travel itinerary.

There are many things I can promise you will experience on a Trafalgar guided vacation, one is definitely that you will never go to bed hungry at night.

44 thoughts on “San Francisco & Napa Valley With Trafalgar: Day 1

  1. Terra

    With all the years I lived Arizona, would you believe I still never went to Napa valley. That is one trip I look forward to someday:-) Now I did get to San Fran for training for work…..which is not the same. BUT I can say San Fran is truly a city all its own. I seriously love your travel guide, she looked so fun! Hugs, Terra

    Reply
  2. Karla

    Gorgeous photos of SF Andi!

    Wow! I love that pic of wall art, such vibrant colors and Izu? She rocks, I can feel her amazing energy all the way here 😉

    Makes me want to visit again. TYVM

    Reply
  3. Julika

    What an amazing experience! I can’t even decide what looks better – the mouthwatering food or the gorgeous streets of San Francisco… I really want to do this someday!

    Reply
  4. Aryn

    Wow, I literally could not have planned a more perfect day in San Francisco! I was actually born not far away from there but moved away. I have to go back one day and truly experience this city!

    Aryn
    Driftwood and Daydreams

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      And our guided vacation just got even better as the trip went on! TT knows travel like no other company out there!!! I hope you can return to your birthplace soon.

      Reply
  5. MfB

    OMG, the food looks so yummy. I want visit all these places now. Lucky you. Thanks for posting the photos and feel free to drop by me too when you have time.

    Reply
  6. Kristen @ KV Confessions

    OH, San Francisco!! I’m planning on surprising my hubby with Niners tickets on the 30th, along with a little weekend getaway 🙂 I’m so excited – I’ve been wanting to visit there forever. I just want to walk around, take pictures, and most of all… EAT! Your trip looks amazing and your photos are gorgeous as always! xo

    Reply
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  8. Andrea

    I loved reading this for some inside info – I never took any tours in SF because I was a local – used to hang out in the Haight all the time but never knew any of the stories!

    Reply
  9. Jen Laceda | Tartine and Apron Strings

    Way back when, Trafalgar Tours had a reputation for being an “old folks” tour. Now, I guess, they have revamped their demographics and focus by providing tours like these! Good to know this, as Trafalgar is my Mom’s fave tour operator. It may likely be mine soon, too. Love your photos of SF! Love Izu – she rocks!

    Reply
    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      They have completely rebranded themselves. Started so last year! I talk a lot about it in my France & Italy posts. 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words love.

      Reply
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