TWO DAYS IN SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco is a city in Northern California and home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The city is very hilly, very colourful and has very good seafood.

Some resources we used to plan our trip:

ACCOMMODATION

We stayed at an Airbnb in the Mission district. The listing was highlighted as being next to “the oldest standing house in San Francisco”. Apparently, it’s about the same age with quirks and weird architectural design. There was access to a nice rooftop where we went up to relax and enjoy the beautiful views of Potrero Hills and Twin Peaks

We had a private room in a four bedroom house (2 rented out as Airbnb rooms) with a shared bathroom and kitchen. It was the ‘Music Room’ and had a queen bed, TV with Netflix, musical instruments, big windows facing the street and a swing. This listing is no longer available. We stayed here for 1 night for $143USD on 30th July 2016.

We chose Airbnb as we found the price was better than hotels we could find, and chose the location for the same reason. There were cheaper places further away from Downtown, but didn’t want to get to far away from everything when we were only staying for such a short time.

TRANSPORT

The Public transport in San Francisco is trains, buses and trams.

Getting to SFO Airport from Vancouver: I booked the 6:15am flight from YVR to SFO. So in order to make the flight I caught the bus/trains from Maple Ridge around 9:30pm last night to arrive at Vancouver Airport at 12am. The airport is open 24hours with a Starbucks and Wendys still open when I arrived. There are lots of seats and other people sitting/sleeping around for the morning flights. So I found some free seats, slept on my backpack sleeping to music and using my eye cover. At 4:30am I joined the line for the gates. They started letting us through security and then we could use the automated machines which notified the employees which line we belonged to for customs. Then we had to wait for 5am for the actual border to open, and the border officers to start their shifts. Flight from Vancouver to San Francisco is 2.5 hours. Arrived at SFO at 8:45am and waited for Todd’s flight to arrive, which was delayed.

SFO Airport – Downtown: Then we caught the train at 10:30am, buying tickets at the machine, to go into downtown. There was construction on the train lines so after a few stations everyone was guided to shuttle buses that would take us to the next open station where we then got back on the train and continued our journey. We exited at Market St & 1st St and the whole trip took about an hour

Downtown – Our Airbnb: To get back to our accommodation we decided to take the tram. It is cash only and only accept correct change. So we went into a corner store and bought a cheap chocolate so we could get the exact change. A tram didn’t actually come and it was a bus instead. Apparently the San Francisco Marathon was on and the public transport was having to operate extra buses and such to accommodate the demand.

Downtown – SFO airport: After lunch we walked 2.8km to REI (40min) and looked around to try on boots and backpacks for 2 hours. We then walked 1.3km (21min) to Market St & 7th St Transit to catch the train to the airport. It was 6pm by this time and the train took 1hr 20min (still delays). We then waited at the terminal for our Southwest flight to Phoenix, AZ._

Today we explored Downtown. After arriving directly from the airport we walked around all day to take in the main sights and get an idea of the city.

SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL

In front of City Hall

We walked around Downtown for an hour then walked 2.25km (30min) to San Francisco City Hall.

GOLDEN GATE PARK

Walking along Fulton Street you can see just how hilly San Francisco is

We walk 3.2km (50min) along Fulton Street to Golden Gate Park. We turn into the park and walk through the Conservatory of Flowers along Conservatory Dr, then turn right at John F Kennedy Dr and turn right onto 8th ave to exit the park. This walk is about 1.2km and takes 15min. Then we walk and stopped for coffees. Walk through the Presidio through Mountain Lake Park and past the Presidio Golf Course to the Golden Gate Bridge.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE

Walking up to the Golden Gate Bridge on a very foggy day

Originally we were going to walk across the bridge but the entrance was at a different area to us and just too far away so we went to Torpedo Wharf at West Bluff Picnic Area for a view instead. It was surprisingly cold today and very overcast so our view of the bridge was fog covered. To cross the bridge and get closer you need to walk up and around along the road, which we worked out was going to take at least half an hour. With our limited time we decided we would rather head the opposite direction back towards downtown as we had already walked a tonne and being so foggy we weren’t going to get a great view anyway.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY TRAIL

The view of Golden Gate bridge whilst walking through Crissy field

We walk through Crissy Field on the San Francisco Bay Trail past Crissy Marsh and Crissy Field East Beach along the waterfront following the trail to Marina Blvd.

Colourful buildings along Marina Blvd

We pass Marina Green Triangle and Fort Mason to Fisherman’s Wharf. The houses along here are all very colourful with views of the ocean. Along this trail you can also see Alcatraz, which unfortunately was already booked out by the time we tried to book 2 months beforehand.

FISHERMANS WHARF

Main sigh on Fishermans wharf

Here is the centre of San Francisco’s seafood. You can buy all sorts of cooked and prepared seafood meals. There are restaurants and a fresh catch market.

Clam Chowder in sourdough (photo courtesy of Boudin Bakery website)

We ate at BOUDIN BAKERY CAFE and had delicious, fresh Sourdough filled with Clam Chowder. We sat outside to eat because there was absolutely no space inside and it was obvious why, outside was freezing! We ate quickly and headed to catch a tram Downtown.

MUSEE MECHANIQUE

Entrance and the creepy ‘puppet’ in a glass case as soon as you enter

At Fisherman’s Wharf we go into Musee Mechanique, free entry. Here is a collection of antique coin operated arcade games. There are so many!

Today we decided to check out the area outside downtown. We walked through the mission district (near where we were), found the Seward Mini park and walked up to Twin Peaks for a view of the city.

MISSION DISTRICT

Graffiti near our accommodation

Walk through Mission District to admire the street art and after 500m stopped at Haus coffee for lattes.

San Francisco houses on Dolores Street

We continue west on 24 street and turn right to walk north up Dolores Street.

Dolores Park Playground

After 1.6km  (35min) we reach At Dolores Park and walk through Dolores Park Playground, which is packed, and the slides run down with the hills.

SEWARD MINI PARK

View of Dolores Heights

We walk through Dolores Heights west on 20th street, uphill for 1km (15min).

Seward Mini Park slide

When 20th st curves at the end we turn left onto Seward St to Seward Mini Park. These are slides carved into the hill and cemented. You need a flat cardboard box to slide down these and luckily people leave theirs behind so there were plenty at the top of the slide to use.

TWIN PEAKS

One of the staircases hidden in the streets to Twin Peaks

The next challenge was to walk for 1km uphill to Twin Peaks (39min). There are A LOT of stairs. These stairs are hidden in between suburbs and are very high. We followed a guide to make sure we didn’t miss any of the path.

Photo from the left peak

This is quite a long walk and is very steep. So by the time we got to the top we were welcoming the breeze. We arrived at Twin Peaks at 1pm and again the fog had rolled in over the city.

Photo from the right peak

It was quite busy up here with people and very windy. There are two hills/mounds that you can walk up to get this view. There is also a road that winds around to get to car parks at the top.

CASTRO

Houses walking down the opposite side to the Castro

We walked back down the hill to find some food. here are lots different coloured houses with different designs and architecture.

End of the main street in Castro

We reached the Castro district after 2.2km (59min) and the street is very busy and the prices are pretty high. There are lots of different people walking around from all different walks of life. We decide to eat Mexican at The Castro Republic.

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