The golden city…that’s not so golden.
A bit like a ‘praise sandwich’, I’m going to start with the negative, then bring in the positives…sorry San Fran.
I think it was solely down to the area of the accommodation, however, I didn’t really enjoy my visit to San Francisco, or at least, not compared to the other destinations visited on the trip.
We were staying in possibly the dodgiest area of San Fran; homeless people on every corner of the streets, gangs of drunk people, boarded up stores – generally just the most run down area possible, TripAdvisor reviews didn’t warn us of this one. It was late at night when Ee actually arrived in San Fran, so with this being the first experience we had of the city, it’s fair to say, it did dampen the rest of the trip, but being sensible girls, we decided to ensure we were back in our accommodation before dark each night, and the trip only got better from here. The moral of my trip is, despite the price, pay extra to stay on a more central location of the city…you’ll get more out of it in the long run.
Enough said. The next morning, we brushed off all our doubts and set out to enjoy all San Fran has to offer. Let’s move on to the best bits.
Pier 39 was our first destination: a popular tourist attraction home to an array of shops, restaurants, street performers and attractions such as the Sea Lion centre, aquarium, mirror maze, musical steps and the ever famous, sea lions (I’m pretty sure the sea lions are what we came here for). It even played host to a restaurant/pub that served the traditional British Fish and Chips, and after 3 months away from home, this definitely made my day!
From Pier 39, spectacular views of Alcatraz Island are on offer. If you want to get closer to the island than the distant photograph, and actually experience all it has to offer, you definitely need to book well in advance, as in August, tickets to the island were fully booked until the end of September! The view just had to do.
San Francisco’s most iconic attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge is an experience itself. Prior warning, it’s not actually gold…or orange, technically red. Despite the colour, it’s clearly a must see on a trip to the city; one day, I’d love to drive across the bridge, like you see in the movies – but I need to get a UK drivers license first, never mind be able to drive in the U.S. It’s also a lot further away from the heart of the city than I expected. We originally planned on walking from Pier 39, and when we arrived at Fort Mason, we could see the Bridge in sight and was optimistic that we’d make it…until we heard two bikers ride past saying they had another 4 hours to go until they get to bridge. We didn’t have wifi to check if this statement was actually true, so instead of risking it and wasting a whole day trying to get there, we de-toured, and tried again the following day – this of which required 2 long bus journeys and a taxi, so yeah, I think it was the right decision. Anyway, a long journey later, it was worth the trip to be able to say “I’ve seen and walked the Golden Gate Bridge”.
San Francisco is also well known for its long, hilly roads, and that they are!
The best part about the hills, is not only are they picturesque, but the option to ride on one of the iconic cable cars, and I think it’s a must do – at least for a first time trip to the city! I think I paid about $18 for a ride, but it was so worth it; it was nice to get off our feet for a little bit, sit on the outer edge of the car and enjoy the views passing by us!
San Francisco’s china town is definitely the best I’ve ever been to. The streets seem to last forever, we found some pretty good bargains and ate delicious Chinese food.
If you’re a fan of Disney, then a visit to the Walt Disney family museum is definitely a must do! It was pretty out of the heart of the city, but it was so completely worth it. At around $15 an entry, we spent the whole morning enjoying the interactivities, galleries and exhibits, showcasing the life and legacy of Walt Disney, and, paying just an extra $5 a ticket, we got to watch a showing of Sleeping Beauty, in the museums very own Disney movie theatre. It’s definitely a few hours well spent!
There’s so much more to see and do in San Francisco, such as the visit to Alcatraz Island, the iconic Lombard Street and famous homes such as that from Mrs Doubtfire, That’s So Raven, Full House, etc. But with only about 48 hours in the city, and a curfew of ‘before dark’, we missed out on these things – who knows, maybe I’ll come back, but next time, I’d definitely stay more central.
(Visited August 2015)