Saturday, 10 January 2015

San Francisco Highlights!

Our flight from Las Vegas to San Francisco only took an hour, we flew with United Airlines, who were an okay airline but my suitcase came off the carousel with a broken wheel, argh!! We got the BART train from the airport as I’d read online somewhere that it was the cheapest way. Got to Powell St which was the station we needed, came out and had no idea where we were going, and it was so busy! We must have looked like lost tourists because next thing we knew a homeless guy came up to us and asked where we were trying to get to! He walked us to where we get a taxi from, hailed one down for us and gave us a few tips!

The hotel wasn’t far, we checked in and the guy at the desk gave us a map and wrote on it points of interest and buses to get, which was really helpful but he was also a bit hard to understand! The hotel was called the Mayflower Hotel and it was an old building with reeeally old lifts, which were cool but scary the first time we got in one! The room was nice and we had a little kitchen with a fridge which meant we could get a few bits in so we could save money on food. Oh and breakfast was also included! Bonus!

On our first full day the plan was to get weekly bus passes and then go to the Golden Gate Bridge. We followed the map the man in the hotel had given us and got on the number 30 bus and got off near Crissy Field. I wanted to walk along there and it didn’t look like a long walk. Until we were on the bus and I realised that section of the map said on it ‘Compressed area - 4.5 miles’!!
It turned out to be a really nice walk though and didn’t feel that far! There were lots of people walking dogs (we later found out that there are more dogs than children in San Francisco!!) The views of the bridge and Alcatraz were great, we finally made it to the bridge and walked along to the first tower. We had planned to go all the way across and back again, but we had already walked a long way and it was windy and a bit cold up there! Apparently even if its a boiling day you’ll still need a coat on the bridge!

When we got to the tower we looked down and spotted some dolphins in the water! So we watched them for ages, kept trying to get pictures but it was so hard as they’d come up to the surface for about 1 second! We also spotted some seals!

We then walked back across the bridge and got on a different bus that went from the end of the bridge. We decided to stop off in Chinatown to have a look round. It was a lot bigger than Chinatown in London and a lot more authentic, i felt like I was actually in China, even the banks names were written in Chinese! There were loads of fruit and veg stalls and loads of smelly dried fish, I took a photo but the stall owner told me off! We went and had some noodles and fried rice before we left, then went back to the hotel!

We looked on Trip Advisor and the number 1 thing to do in San Francisco was Wild SF free walking tours so the next day thought we would try it out! The meeting point was Union Square which was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel, and our tour guide soon rocked up in vintage clothes and carrying a ukelele, Wild Wes! We visited loads of places around the city including the St Francis Hotel, where the president was nearly shot but was saved by a gay military man. Saw a man who sings opera in the street, then onto Chinatown where we went in a fortune cookie factory and saw a man called Jun Yu who owns a barber shop and plays an instrument called an Erhu. He is apparently in the film Pursuit of Happyness, although I don’t remember him!
Then onto Jack Kerouac Alley, saw a Banksy painting, Columbus Tower and the tallest building in San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid. We learned looooads about the city and it was fun as well!

After the tour finished we walked to Lombard Street, which is the crookedest street in the world! We walked up the steep pathway which ran alongside it and took some pictures from the top, then got on a cable car and rode it back down to our hotel!

The following day we did another Wild SF walking tour, this time our guide was called J Jo. We started off by walking down to the ‘F line’ streetcar which we rode on to the gay district called Castro. In Castro we saw the first ever gay bar to have windows, a cookie shop which sold penis shaped macaroons, and a vintage cinema which had a Frozen singalong that day! We then walked to Dolores Park which had awesome views of the city. On the tour we met a girl from Canada who had family living in the same town I’m from in England, deffo small world!

After going for lunch with a few of the people who were also on the tour, we went to check out an alleyway that J Jo had mentioned that was full of street art. We then got on a bus which went to Steiner Street, which is where the house is from Mrs Doubtfire! The bus stopped right outside the house so we got off and took some pictures.

We then walked down to Japantown, where there was a Cherry Blossom Festival going on. There had been a parade earlier on which we'd missed but there were still lots of people dressed up and things going on. I had an amazing ice cream crepe from a place called Happy Face that looked like a teddy bear!

The following day we headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We went in the Ghirardelli chocolate shop for a hot chocolate then walked down the road towards Pier 39, which is where there are loads of sea lions who have just decided to live there!

On the way we saw a man sat with a handful of twigs in each hand so he was hidden and looked like a bush, and as people walked past he was going "arghhhh!” and making them jump! It was so funny we stood there for ages just laughing at everyone’s reactions! We carried on down and saw tanks full of crabs, had a clam chowder, and saw a seagull steal a little boys corn dog that he’d had one bite of, and swallow it whole including the stick!! 

We then got to Pier 39 and saw a man doing spray paint pictures, we had seen them in New York and Las Vegas but this time we decided to watch him do a picture and then buy it. Then we went over to see the sea lions, there was so many and they smelled pretty bad!

It was then time for our trip to Alcatraz! We made our way to Pier 33 to board the boat, we did the night tour which leaves at 5.55pm. Once you arrive on the island you walk up to the main prison where you are given headphones for the audio tour. We spent time going around the whole prison and learning about the prisoners, officers, history and things that happened there like the escape attempts. It’s definitely a must do in San Francisco and was so interesting! Once we had finished the audio tour we were free to have a look round the prison’s hospital, which was a bit creepy! We then got the boat back to the city and it was dark so it was great to see the city all lit up.

The following day we just did washing, I got a new suitcase, did a bit of shopping and ate at the Cheesecake Factory, yummm!! Then the day after we got a bus to the Palace of the Fine Arts, not to go in but just to take pictures of the outside and the gardens as it was really pretty. We then had decided to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum as it was in the same area, called the Presidio. We decided we could walk there but we had no idea how to get there, so we just kind of guessed! We walked for probably a couple of miles before we found a big map so we looked at that, but the museum wasn’t on there! Then some guy who was driving past asked if we needed help and kind of directed us but we were still a bit confused! About 2 minutes later he drove past again and told us he’d take us there for $15, erm no! We walked up a road that looked like it was leading us deep into the forest, then along another road past a cemetery, then we found a big building which I think was a church so we went to ask in there! A nice lady was in there and told us it was only round the corner, yay!

We spent ages in the museum, which was all about Walt Disney’s life, from when he was born right up until when he died. That part was really sad and it made me cry! My favourite things to see were pictures of the first ever known drawings of Mickey Mouse, and some pictures of Walt and his wife from a photobooth, where they are just pulling silly faces in every photo!

After looking round the museum we got the bus home, had amazing pizza from a place opposite the hotel and packed our cases ready for LA!!

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