USA Part 2: San Francisco

The second stop on our American Adventure was San Francisco. We had 3 nights here but would have preferred 4-5 as there is lots to see and do!

Our flight with American Airlines arrived around 9pm. We went straight to our hotel which was the Best Western Americania hotel which is about 5-10min walk from Union Square. The hotel bar/restaurant was great and would recommend a visit (K-OZ bar).

We only really had 2 full days in San Fran so we made sure we planned our time carefully to get everything in:

1. Golden Gate Bridge: We hired bikes from a place near the waterfront – I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the rental place but there are hundreds of them) and we cycled along the waterfront to the Golden Gate Bridge. Unsurprisingly, it is very windy on the bridge but it didn’t really bother us too much only at the points where you have to cycle around the pillars and kind of cycle into the wind – easier to just get off and push round! The views were stunning even though it was a bit misty and it definitely felt like a bucket list achievement moment. There are hop on hop off buses that go over the bridge if you don’t fancy cycling. If we had more time, we would have cycled on to Sausalito.

2. Lombard Street: Immortalised in the TLC video, this tight hairpin cobbled street was a must-see. The owners of the properties on this street must have triple glazing windows to block out the constant sound of TLC being blasted from the cars sneaking down this road. The queue of traffic at the top was crazy and there was a dedicated police officer controlling the area. Definitely worth seeing – it was a nice sunny day when we were there and the flowers / plants on the street looked lovely.

3. Alcatraz: Similar to the attractions in NYC, Alcatraz has to be pre-booked as it sells out quite a while in advance so there would be little chance of on-the-day tickets being available. We queued up for our time slot – it takes a while to get on the boat because in true tourist fashion, you get your photo taken in front of a green screen before you board so you can buy a photo on the way back.
The boat trip over doesn’t take long and you get great views of San Fran and the bridges as you go.
As soon as you disembark, you are huddled into a group where a tour guide gives you an overview of the island and the museum before you get going.
There is a sloping hill that goes up the side of the island to take you to the museum part – they do have transportation for those unable to complete the walk which is nice.
The ticket price includes the audio tour which is good and this gives you directions for moving around the island and makes sure you see and hear all the important parts. I personally loved the stories of people trying to escape – some of the methods were very clever!


4. Fishermans Wharf/Pier 39: We visited the wharf on both of our days in San Fran. The Wharf has a number of seafood restaurants and bars dotted around which were all very busy. We spent most of our time at the bar in the middle – Chowder Hut – where we had a lot of prosecco (me) and beer (Neil) and shared chowder in a bread bowl – YUM!
On pier 39 there were lots of restaurants (Bubba Gumps!), shops, and arcades / kids entertainers. The best shop was the left handed shop – as a leftie I was so excited to go in and was about to purchase a pair of left handed scissors but they were 40USD and then a stationary kit that was 25USD so I decided against both as I don’t do much cutting on a day to day basis and I’ve survived almost 30 years without a left handed ruler but it was great to be in the shop.
Even though this area is really touristy and mobbed with people, it still had a laid back vibe so we spent a great deal of time here

5. Trolleys/Trams: The old fashioned trams run across the city and can take the pain out of climbing the steep hills from the waterfront back to Union Square. You need to pre-purchase a ticket from the ticket booth before getting on the tram. We got the tram from Fishermans wharf back up to Union Square direction. It was a cool experience – the ticket / conductor / navigator guy on the tram had great banter.


Restaurants: We ate in our hotel restaurant K-OZ bar – they serve American / Hawaiian food – tacos with different coloured shells etc.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g60713-d12727356-Reviews-K_Oz-San_Francisco_California.html

We also went to a sushi restaurant called Ryoko’s which is in a basement near Union Square – it is quite dark and edgy in the restaurant and there is a DJ playing dark and edgy tunes throughout – we had to queue for a table but was worth the wait 🙂 https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g60713-d360083-Reviews-Ryoko_s_Japanese_Restaurant_Bar-San_Francisco_California.html

Our time in San Fran felt like a whirlwind and it felt like only a few mins after arriving that we had to leave for our final stop – Las Vegas!

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