If you follow me on Instagram, then you know my love for San Francisco. SF is truly an incredible city. With its every little corner so very charming and full of character, it makes it hard not to fall in love with. If it isn't already, you should add it to your bucket-list because it definitely is a city worth visiting.
We flew there for a weekend - our first time - and liked it so much that we made a vow to return. Since we had limited time and so many places on our list, we tried to take advantage of it and hit all the "hot spots".
We booked our trip + hotel through Southwest. We stayed in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, which is a very pretty area (just like all San Francisco), but also very touristy. We found the quirkiest boutique hotel Zephyr,
which I liked a lot - that should tell you something since I DON'T LIKE hotels. In a great location and with a unique nautical decor, we really enjoyed staying there - a tip though - avoid the rooms near the elevator as you can hear it a little too well. The first morning there, after arriving very late the previous night, we were awaken around 5am by the constant elevator "ding". The receptionist, apart from giving us recommendations for things to do/see/eat, was also very kind to let us pick a more "private" room, without any extra-charges. I found that every room has a bit of a different decor than the other and the rest of our stay there was pleasant and quiet.
After we settled in our new room, we went out exploring, at around 8am. We began with Pier 39 and the surrounding area prior to heading to Alcatraz Island. We spent about two hours on Alcatraz, and once we came back, we had lunch on the pier and decided to bike to Golden Gate bridge.
Useful tip: it is illegal to bike on the sidewalk in San Francisco.
Biking to the Golden Gate bridge proved to be quite the difficult task - the wind was so strong, it felt like we were biking in place - it was very extenuating. We made it to the park but were too tired to move further and were nervous about getting caught in the dark so we decided to come back. On the way back we made a rest stop at the stunning Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and enjoyed the beautiful architecture and the quiet - lucky us there was barely anyone there. From there, we headed to the Marina and the Maritime Museum and biked back towards the hotel so we can drop our bikes before the shop closed. That concluded our first day there.
The next day, we again rose early to explore the city. This time we headed towards Russian Hill. We made it to the Lombard street, which is the "crookedest" street in the world. It was full of tourists even in the early morning so, after a few pictures, we headed towards Coit tower by feet, of course. On our way we kept admiring the gorgeous views beneath our eyes but once there, we were taken aback by the incredible almost 360 degrees views, including views of the ocean and Alcatraz. Unfortunately, there was a long line to get inside the tower and from what we heard, there was over an hour wait-time. As you know, we had limited time so we decided to keep moving. Next on our way was Chinatown. I have to say I was under-impressed - not sure what I was expecting, but we did have some delicious jackfruit there and got to admire the Asian architecture before we moved along Japantown, where we enjoyed a break and some tasty ice cream. From there, we made our way to Alamo Square, where, unfortunately, we didn't get to spend much time due to some construction. Our ultimate destination was Golden Gate Park and we wanted to see as much as possible on our way there. I have to say we have seen many incredible churches and full-of-old-charm houses - you know how much I like architecture. I also liked the frequency with which we would run into small parks or green spaces, where we could rest a bit.
We finally made it to the Golden Gate Park but I have to say that at that point we were both extremely tired and my feet were killing me. We both did not expect the park to be as big as it is and so diverse, or we would have planned better. We could have spent a whole day there and I know we wouldn't have been bored, especially since we could have rented bikes there as well. Once we made it to the park, we sat on a bench for at least thirty minutes before moving again - we really needed a break. I think we ended up exploring about half of the park, it was all we had in us at that time, and we also needed to get back. Somehow, on our way back we got a bit lost and so, we had to again, walk back to the other side of the city where our hotel was.
Oh, the KILLER HILLS on our way back - San Francisco has an abundance of them - I would have never believed they are so steep if I hadn't seen them for myself. I literally thought I was going to die right there while going up some of them.
I don't remember how long it took us to get back to our hotel but we were just about dead. After resting for a while, we remembered that we haven't eaten much that day and we needed dinner. The hotel's receptionist recommended and made a reservation for us at the Fog Harbor Fish House that has gorgeous view of the water and the city. Honestly, that was the best food we had during our stay in SF. We are fairly picky (read careful and prefer to eat organic) with our food so, somehow we just haven't found food we liked there - I blame it on the touristy area we were in and the fact that we didn't venture further away or prioritized finding something better - next time.
This dinner concluded our weekend in SF since the next day we had to return home.
SF is a beautiful and a fun city but would I want to live there - NO, just because of the hills alone, not to mention the cost of living. To visit tough, I would go over and over.
Fun facts about this trip and city:
from the Author
Through travel one gets to know the outer world as well as the world within.