The Commodore Hotel
825 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: (415) 923-6800
Host/Concierge: Bina Patel
By Elisabeth Sherwin and JoHannah Sherwin
SAN FRANCISCO - What do you do in The City when you are accompanied by a teen-ager? Answer: The same things you always do: walk long distances, have great meals, ride the cable cars and in this particular case, take in a gender-bender rock opera.
We drove to The City on Sunday afternoon when there was no traffic to speak of. We had time to get settled at the Commodore Hotel on Sutter Street before walking to "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at 16th and Mission.
"I wouldn't take my parents to it," said the niece, 17. "They'd be shocked. But aunt and I could handle it. It was funny, too, and I liked the music."
The Commodore is perfectly located for walking to Grace Cathedral, Union Square, Chinatown, and the Palace Hotel off Market where we had breakfast on Monday morning in the most beautiful dining room in the city.
"It was to die for," said the teen-ager about the sumptuous surroundings. "The food was good, too. We had the breakfast buffet. I had poached eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and oatmeal."
The waiter was kind enough to bring her a large sample of the filling in the crab omelette, too.
The thing is, we both agreed, that you can eat a big breakfast because you know you'll be doing a lot of walking throughout the rest of the day.
From there we walked around the Moscone Center, visited St. Patrick's Church on Mission, and caught the cable car at Powell to Fisherman's Wharf. But we didn't tarry on the wharf, preferring to go straight to Ghiradelli Square to buy chocolate souvenirs and scenic photographs to take home.
More walking, then, to Union Street to look in the shops. Happily, neither one of us actually felt like spending any money on frivolities. We spent our money on necessities, stopping in at a beauty salon for manicures.
"We left feeling much better," said the niece.
Our next stop was a used bookstore, where we bought more necessities. The niece was quite happy, having acquired a much sought-after book.
As we walked up the hill to Pacific Heights we exclaimed about the weather and the view. We could not have asked for a more perfect day: sunny, no fog and slight wind to keep the temperature moderate. The view of the Golden Gate was, in a word, breathtaking.
"One of the things I love about San Francisco is walking through the neighborhoods looking at the gorgeous homes, trying to imagine what it would be like to live there," she said.
Having exercised enough, we decided to relax and enjoy a movie, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," back at the hotel. Niece, having seen the movie numerous times, helpfully recited the dialog as the movie unfolded.
Aunt and niece, sharing close quarters for two days, could have made life miserable for each other and those within shouting distance.
"We had a great time," said the niece. "It's obvious that we like to do the same things."
"I felt like warning her to wear comfortable shoes," the aunt confessed. "But it wasn't her first trip to San Francisco and I didn't want to nag. Turns out I should have: Niece got a blister. But she'll know better next time."
On our last morning, we drove to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park to see the "Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland" exhibit. The museum does not charge admission on Tuesdays (usually it's $12 for adults), and tickets to the special exhibit were only $4.
We took the audio tour, which offered commentary on 20 featured paintings out of the larger exhibit.
"I enjoyed having the audio commentary telling us about the history of the painting as you looked at it," said the niece.
The da Vinci portrait included in the exhibit was amazing. The collection was very good, but the "Woman With An Ermine" was remarkable, standing out from all the rest.
We split a sandwich from the Legion of Honor café, preferring to eat outside and soak up the view west of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Inevitably, though, we had to go home.
"I want to come again," said the niece. "Next time, I'll wear different shoes."
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