San Francisco

After arriving at some god forsaken hour in the morning, my first day was very chilled. I organised and settled into my new hostel (Green Tortoise- 11/10 would recommend to anyone looking to stay in SF) and then got a bit more sleep as my 3 hrs the night before was not enough. I eventually left in search of food and for some wanderings. I found myself on the water side and exploring the various piers. One caught my eye as being much more vibrant so I headed in. I started seeing signs for sea lions and was curious what that meant as surely so near such a busy city with busy waterways, there wouldn’t be any sea lions there…. I could smell them before I saw them! And at least 100 of them but I’ve since heard that in their peak, there can be 1000+.

After some more bumbling around the streets and finally finding an appropriate place for me to eat (a 1-£ rating on trip advisor cost me $18!), I headed back and planned what I was going to do for the next few days.

Highlights of my time here:

⁃ Wandering the streets and randomly finding new and interesting places. Often coming across some very cool houses/buildings. I was initially confused why all the houses front doors were at least 1 storey up, if not 2 or more. Having thought about it since, all these houses have garages under them which I imagine works well in the city.

I love that blue house
I ventured to Coit tower on one of my wanderings. Has very cool, historical murals on the walls inside.
View from the top of Coit tower

⁃ Segway tour along the marina and surrounding areas, ending with a ride down Lombard street like a proper tourist!

“There’s some big bridge somewhere over there”

⁃ Getting an all day bus/tram/cable car pass and just hoping on them randomly in which ever direction and getting off when the area looked like a fun place to explore.

There were soooooo many wedding photo shoots going on throughout the city.

⁃ Cycling to Sausalito on the other side of the bay (on a second attempt given then on my first try, it was so windy on the bridge that I was getting blown off the bike). I got chatting to some very nice locals who had all sorts of fun facts about the area.

Crissy Field
The view back towards SF
After visiting Sausalito, I carried on cycling around the bay

⁃ My Alcatraz visit had amazing views over the bay as the famous fog was rolling in over the GG bridge. The island was really interesting and had really quite a good audio tour, even if it does take you in all sorts of wiggles through the place.

⁃ The hostel: Along with free breakfast, there were also free suppers 3 times a week and both meals were very social affairs. The staff were also incredibly helpful and generous (one let me borrow her bike helmet for the day while she was working), as well as being quite a good laugh when you chatted to them.

⁃ Chocolate! My first chocolate in over 11 weeks (not that I’ve been counting…) and it was great. ‘America’s best chocolate’ not that that says anything at all. However, it is so good that it was bought by Lindt but still trades and operates under its original name- Ghirardelli’s. Naturally that’s not an American name but you don’t exactly have to go too far back in history to see that almost everyone is an immigrant! That Italian family came over to SF during the gold rush and the shop has been on the same lot ever since.


⁃ The palace of fine art. Even though this was a highlight, it surprised me more. I had originally spotted it from the bridge (you can see it in the photo of Crissy fields) and asked a friend who had just left the city about it. I made a note to go and visit but turns out, I didn’t have to as we went there as part of the Segway tour. It was built for an expo than SF had and it surprised me as as much as I loved it, I don’t feel like it fits in with the city even though, for the expo, it was meant to help represent the city. Anyway, it is one majestic building!

Double Jess – took a while to get this as my photographer get laughing too much and wiggled the pano.

⁃ Not that I should have been so surprised… but the prices of things! Not helped at all by the less than good GBP-USD exchange rate, either.

– While wandering near the piers at one point, I heard a siren go off for about 30 seconds…. long enough for me to think about what on earth it could be for. Then I remember I’m in earthquake territory but it can’t be for that… but I’m near a large body of water so it must be for a tsunami… help. What do I do?! Where are the hills?? What is everyone else doing?! Oh. Nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe it was for a ferry leaving? Seemed a tad over the top for that. It was midday but surely they didn’t have a siren as a midday chime! Anyway whatever it was, no one else was bothered by it so I carried on with my day, musing over it. Eventually, while I was chatting to a local in Sausalito, he said it is for tsunamis and they test it every Tuesday at midday. So there we have it!

Siren building…. actually a ferry terminal.

⁃ Golden gate park: after convincing myself that this was going to be similar to Central Park (almost no roads and predominantly flat open spaces), I was rather surprised. There are many main roads that run through the park so as a pedestrian, you still have to endlessly stop and wait for traffic to pass before you can cross. It’s also still very much SF terrain and very hilly in parts so it’s hard work to walk through.

The park did still have some tranquil views to offer

Yosemite next 😀 (been there done that already, just haven’t written the blog post yet…)