I always think that one of the best ways to see a city is from a different perspective – from up high at the top of the Shard in London; from a gondola exploring Venice’s canals; or from across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
In San Francisco, where the water surrounds the city and so many of the main sights and attractions are around the Bay, hopping on a boat and taking in the views from the water seemed like the thing to do. So that’s exactly what we did when Hornblower Cruises invited us on board for an evening of champagne, dinner and dancing.
Rows of tables sat along each side of the yacht, all with a great view looking out over the water. We made our way to our romantic table for two, noticing that most of the other tables also seated couples. The larger more raucous parties were on another level of the boat, making our deck one of the more romantic date night settings you can have in the City by the Bay.
As the boat bobbed up and down on the water and we waited for everyone else to get on board, we toasted our champagne to a fantastic trip so far with still plenty of our American adventures ahead of us.
Me being a blogger and Mr Ayla being the chatty one he is, of course meant that we got talking to the couple on the table next to us. It seemed this is not only the perfect occasion for tourists who want to enjoy themselves and see a different side to the city, but it’s also perfect for locals celebrating a birthday or anniversary or just for a special night out.
As the boat started to drift across the water, we tucked into our bowls of Fisherman’s Wharf clam chowder, a staple dish that seemed to be hugely popular in every coastal city we visited in California, and not without good reason. Grilled salmon fillet with risotto followed for me and organic pan roasted chicken breast with cannellini bean ragout for Mr Ayla. Both freshly cooked by the chef on board and both extremely delicious, especially with the San Francisco skyline as our backdrop, as the day turned into night and the city began to light up.
As soon as the Golden Gate Bridge came into sight, a stampede of people suddenly left their tables, grabbing coats to cover up from the windy chill outside, and gathered on the deck just as we travelled underneath the bridge. It lit up the night sky, its shimmering red reflection rippling in the water, and it loomed over us like the gigantic stunning piece of construction it is.
It was such a beautiful view from the water below that I didn’t care if my legs were freezing cold or that my perfectly curled hair was getting blown all over the place in the wind. Well I didn’t care, that is, until my floaty dress suddenly shot up around my ears (picture Marilyn Monroe just a whole lot less elegant) so I quickly shuffled back inside, hands holding tightly onto my dress – and my dignity.
Although the cocktails and courses of food that kept arriving in front of us did slightly distract us from the views, every time we drifted past a famous landmark, the captain made sure he announced it so that we didn’t miss out (FOMO is a real thing you know).
The boat even pulled up close to the AT&T Stadium where we got a view of the fans all cheering on the San Francisco Giants vs Oakland Athletics as they played a game of baseball. American fans seem to be a lot more loyal (and slightly crazier) than us English folk and even the other people on board started cheering and singing while the Hornblower appropriately blew its horn to show its solidarity.
The fourth and final course was a tough choice between chocolate truffle cake and fresh fruit tart. Ha! I joke of course…obviously it was the easiest choice in the world because chocolate wins every single time! The fruit tart did actually look pretty appetising but not enough to make me pick it over chocolate I’m afraid. And I did get some fresh berries with my dessert so that totally balances out the chocolate:fruit ratio right?!
Once our plates had all been wiped clean, the lights dimmed and the DJ started up, and after several more cocktails nothing seemed like a better idea than to get up and have a boogie on the dance floor of a swaying boat whilst wearing high heels. My dignity stayed intact this time around though and I even managed to pull Mr Ayla up for a few songs.
A wonderful three hours after we’d first stepped on board, we hopped off the boat back onto solid ground, full of good food, fruity cocktails, new friends and lots of laughter. As we made our way back to our hotel the ground still seemed to be swaying a little – although that was quite possibly due to all the champagne and cocktails and was most definitely the sign of an evening well spent.
Have you been to San Francisco? What was your favourite place to see a different view of the city from? Let me know in the comments below or at:
Thank you to Hornblower Cruises & Events for inviting us on board for a dazzling dinner cruise. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening in San Francisco!