TPA to SFO / 2017-04-22


We are whirlwind travelers and attempt to cram as much as possible into every day while we are traveling.  It is rare now for us to even use the word “vacation” as we talk about our travels.  We really want to experience as much as possible on every trip, which takes lots of advance planning and travel legs.  Our CLEW-less (without the kids) road trip down the California coast started out that way as we awoke at 330 AM EST to catch our 6 AM EST flight.  Things went pretty smoothly, other than leaving behind Brooke’s laptop and all our paperwork for the trip.  No worries, we can figure that out later.  I was just glad to have made our flight at such an early time.  We had a layover in DEN, but were staying on the same plane.  There was a short time for us to get off and grab something to eat and Brooke decided that there should be an app on airplanes designed for food ordering during your layovers.  Some connections are really tight and there just isn’t enough time to stand in line and grab your food.  However, if you could order it ahead of time and it was ready to go for pickup as you walked by….first world problem solved!  (apparently there was one, doesn’t seem active anymore).  This was our first flight utilizing our shiny new companion pass on Southwest for Brooke, and, along with using Rapid Rewards points for my flight, we saved $455 on this one-way for our two seats combined..

We arrived at SFO on time, grabbed our luggage and headed to the car rental center on the train.  We found the Fox Rent A Car counter and picked up our SUV for the week.  I had booked the reservation in advance through CarRental8, which provides a partial-paid advance voucher for the base rental rate and I had to pay the taxes on arrival.  This was by far the least expensive place to make our car rental reservation for 8 days one way from San Francisco to San Diego (we saved $359 by using this site).  We loaded up the Hyundai Santa Fe with our luggage and headed to our hotel for the night.  We attempted to check into our room, but it was not yet ready so we valeted the car (ouch, that was expensive at $58/night, but at least I felt like it was going to be safe versus $30 in a garage nearby) and grabbed an Uber down to waterfront which was nearby our bike tour.

We met at Blazing Saddles advisor-trip-tripadvisor-icon-0 to redeem our Groupon (we saved $68.75 on this!) and get equipped with our bike and helmets.  Our group and tour guide soon congregated and we set off down the coast, north toward the Golden Gate Bridge.  We passed by a park with open fields on which they had set up soccer fields for young kids to play on this Saturday.  While nothing was extraordinary about any of that, what was extraordinary to us tourists was that in the background of the kids soccer game was the Golden Gate bridge, this iconic image.  After a few stops along the way peppered by some historical anecdotes, we made a longer stop in front of the Palace of Fine Arts, which was erected for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in 1915 and made out of wood and covered with staff, as it was only intended to stand for the Exhibition.  However, the structure has since been fortified and seismic retrofit was completed on it in 2009.  It was a very pretty backdrop and the bird sanctuary on a very small island next to it housed many different, visible bird species.

We made our next stop at the Warming Hut, just before our last ascent onto the Golden Gate Bridge.  Some of the uphills on the bike tour were a challenge for our Florida legs, but we did our best and were rewarded with some amazing views.

After an almost 9 mile bike ride up and down the hills of San Francisco, over the Golden Gate bridge and then into Sausalito, we were tired and decided to take the ferry back over to San Francisco.  The next one available took us a bit further away from the return office than expected, so we tacked on another 1.5 miles bringing the bikes back (but not before a stop at Pier 39 to see the Sea Lions).


After returning our bikes and taking an Uber to the hotel, we were surprised with an evening happy hour in the “Living Room” that included free wine and pizza!  We were staying one night in San Francisco at The Marker, A Joie De Vivre Hotel yelp_icon, located near Union Square.  The room was small and comfortable, but that was expected in San Francisco, but the lobby and living room were especially inviting.  We saved over $100 on the one night stay by re-checking the rate as our arrival date approached.   Check today’s rates for The Marker now!

After enjoying the pizza, wine and live music we finally made it to our room.  We had been going non-stop since 330 AM EST and it was now 7 PM PST; we were tired, but still hungry.  On a recommendation from a friend who was now a Bay Area local, we ended up at The Cavalier, an American / British restaurant that was within walking distance.  The food was excellent, but at this point we were too exhausted to explore anymore and returned to our room to call it a night.

This was Day 1 of our 8 night California Road Trip.  Check out the rest of the trip!

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