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San Francisco
If you are flying into SFO and renting a car be advised it is a pain if you have any luggage. The reason being you have to take the AirTran to the rental car center which is outside the terminal buildings. They do have luggage carts you can rent for $3 which will help, but it is still a pain. Then if you aren't a gold club super user you will have to stand in line to complete your rental agreement and then go to the garage to wait again to get your car keys. The process is definitely not designed for the ease or convenience of the traveler.

Hotels in San Francisco offer a lot of options. We opted for a boutique, European style hotel one block off Union Square called The Cartwright. The rooms weren't large, but they had everything you need... comfortable beds, ceiling fans, WIFI connectivity, and coffee makers. They also had shampoo and conditioner from Lather, a great store with locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Scottsdale, Arizona and New York City.

When you think of San Francisco, you think of the typical tourist stuff, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, etc. The town is also a restaurant mecca. You can find anything you like and then have several choices. We were in town two days and had great Italian, seafood and authentic Japanese tempura, soba and sushi. We also at Calfornia style food at the Cliff House, where San Franciso begins, but the best meal we had was at the Scala Bistro on Powell Street not even a half block from The Cartwright hotel. The caesar salad was perfect, seared salmon a delight, but the cioppino is to die for! Not to mention the strawberry and rhubarb tart with vanilla bean ice cream we had for dessert.

And then there is the shopping. Union Square had a $24 million facelift a few years ago and it is spectacular. Around the square you'll find Saks 5th Avenue, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Victoria's Secret and Tiffany's. Then on the 4th Street there are shops like Pinks of London where you'll find $120 shirts, Loemann's with its incredible fashion bargains is on 3rd and jewelry shops including Shreve & Sons that dates back to the 1890s are scattered around. And then there are the art galleries that are all around the square.

In two days we didn't have time to see all we wanted. We had planned to see the Muir Woods just over the Golden Gate, but didn't get there. Maybe on our next visit we will have the time and inclination. And we will pack lighter so handling the SFO transition to ground transport will be smoother and less of a hassle.

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