History with a twist

My husband and I are convinced that we were born a couple of decades too late. Come to dinner at our house and begin the eye rolling because the background music will feature not only Frank, Dino & Sammy, but Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. Yes, I'm serious. If we had to pick just one decade, however, our favorite would probably be the 40's. We love the fashion, architecture, movies, & most of all the music. During that era, Bill's mom lived in San Francisco and met a handsome Navy pilot (Bill's dad) at a little joint called the "Pink Rat".  60-some years later, while on our honeymoon, we tried to find it but sadly....it's now a parking lot (maybe it was the name.)

There are places with that kind of nostalgia that still exist if you know where to look.  We found this place the last time we were in San Fransisco.  It's called Top of the Mark on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel.  It's more than a bar, but to call it a cocktail lounge sounds...well, it sounds retro and I like that.

Top of The Mark 1941
It's history is the stuff of old movies.  In 1939, when the hotel was called the Mark Hopkins Hotel, owner George D. Smith decided to convert the 19th-floor penthouse apartment into a cocktail lounge. He wasn’t sure how to get people to take an elevator 19 floors to have a drink and look at the view, so he added a dance floor and a band. Not long after, crowds lined the streets to get in.  I loved this tidbit from the web site: "During World War II, servicemen would buy and leave a bottle in the care of the bartender so that the next soldier from their squadron could enjoy a free drink, the only requirement being that whoever had the last sip would buy the next bottle. The soldiers gathered before shipping out for one last toast to the Golden Gate Bridge, believing that the bridge was good luck and would bring them home. As they sailed off under the Golden Gate, wives and sweethearts would draw together in the lounge’s northwest corner, where they would tearfully gaze out the windows. This corner became known as the “Weepers’ Corner.”"

Today, there are still plenty of romantic dinners, cocktail hours, afternoon teas and music at the Top of The Mark.  Click the link below and hear samples from some of San Francisco's jazz greats who frequently perform at the legendary spot.  

So stop by, take that elevator up 19 floors and not only can you enjoy unbelievable views of the city by the bay and sample something from the 100 martini's menu, you can hearken back to a more innocent time when the only thing that was swingin' was the music. 

Top of the Mark today
Great view


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I didn’t dip my toe in an ocean until I turned 25 and my friend Sandy and I traveled to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. After that week, I was hooked. I loved being somewhere new; smelling the smells, tasting new food, seeing how other people lived. It energized me. As luck would have it, I landed a job that allowed me to travel all over the US and often to Canada. Being a sports event television producer, I was on the road all the time. That's when my love affair with travel began. Now, its 20 years later and still no one gets more “geeked up” about planning a vacation than I do. All I need is a destination and some travel companions and my fire is lit! I start delving into my favorite hotel sites, sifting through photos and reviews, comparing, contrasting -it’s like an addiction. The travel shows with tips and trends? I study them like a playbook. I LOVE doing the things most people hate doing before they go on vacation. Whether it be searching for a food tasting tour with a local or discovering a romantic B&B in the middle of New York - I’ve found it and I’ll share it with you. So....where should we go?