Matchbook Traveler

SFBay Area/Japan Mar2014

March 2014 found my wife and me traveling across the country to San Francisco and then on to Japan to visit our son and grandchildren.  After arriving in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon, we started our quest for places to enjoy that also have matchbooks or matchboxes with their names.  Lunch at a long-time San Francisco restaurant that had matches for decades brought none.  Then on to our hotel, a top-rated spot on TripAdvisor. Again, no matches. To quickly wrap up our great long weekend in San Francisco matchbookwise, only four places out of thirteen had matches.  The Bus Stop, a sports bar on Union Street, still has them as does Brazen Head, our favorite in the Union Street area for dinner - very popular with San Franciscans.  Zeitgeist, a true beer garden, still has matches as does Gary Danko, possibly the best restaurant in the city.  Scans of the matchboxes from Brazen Head and Gary Danko have been posted on our Facebook page at  By the way, twelve of the thirteen used to have matches with their names.  Not a good sign.  As for tourism, we managed many of the usual spots -- The Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury, a cable car ride (we took the California Street line from Van Ness to avoid the crowds), Mission Dolores, Point Lobos (including a quick stop along Geary at the beautiful Russian Orthodox Holy Virgin Cathedral), finally heading to the airport along the ocean and Skyline Boulevard.

We left San Francisco early Tuesday evening and arrived in Tokyo late Wednesday night.  After an overnight stay at the hotel at Haneda Airport, we flew to Okinawa to visit family.  No place, from a high-end hotel to local restaurants to a casino, had matches.  The visit was great as we enjoyed the grandchildren’s favorite spots -- the bird park and the aquarium.  We all enjoyed Shuri Castle and, of course, donuts with dad day at our granddaughter’s kindergarten class.  We were one of two sets of grandparents who were visiting on donut day.

Heading back to Tokyo, we stayed at the JAL City Hotel Haneda for three nights.  The room was extremely small -- emphasis on the extremely -- but the price was excellent and it was convenient to the terrific subway system.  Saved a lot of money not taking cabs.  Our first day we had lunch at the Imperial Hotel followed by a visit to the Imperial Gardens.  Dinner followed at the Palace Hotel Tokyo.  After dinner, next to the hotel, we came across a small park with fountains and lights.  A pleasant stop on our way back to our hotel.  The next day, our only rainy day of the entire trip, we had afternoon tea at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, known for the movie “Lost in Translation.”  Even with clouds, it was still a fantastic view from 41 stories high.

Very early Friday morning, we left for San Francisco and arrived late Thursday afternoon.  Our motel, the Millwood Inn in Millbrae on the peninsula, had matches and great rooms.  These were our last matchbooks for the trip but we did thoroughly enjoy the coast around Half Moon Bay the next day before flying home.

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