After the hectic start to our holiday and ten-hour transatlantic flight, we arrived in a beautiful and free-spirited San Francisco. I visited San Francisco before, twelve years ago. I was curious to see familiar spots, see what has changed and what new is waiting for us.
We took a train from the airport to the city center, transitioned to a tram, got off in the Castro district and hiked up the steepest street I’ve ever seen. Our home away from home for the next three nights was a room we found through Airbnb. The house we were staying in was on the highest point of the 17th street. When we arrived at the summit, we felt like we are on top of the world.
It was late afternoon, and so after we dropped our bags in the room, we went for a walk to stretch a bit and to find something for dinner. We walked all the way to the Alamo Square, well-known spot with a beautiful view of the city and took the first pictures of our trip.
Next morning, we took a tram to the Powell Street Station and found a perfect spot for late breakfast. Mazarine Coffee is a hip café serving fantastic toasts and creamy coffee.
With full bellies and happy grins on our faces, we continued to the Union Square, through the Chinatown and to the Transamerica Pyramid, an iconic San Francisco landmark. Behind the building is a small park, called Redwood Park. At noon, it was full of financial district professionals enjoying their lunch sandwiches and salads in a welcome shade of the trees.
After a short break in the park, we continued to the San Francisco port and strolled through the Ferry Building Marketplace. At a nearby pier, we were mesmerized by the tranquility of the sea at one side and the grandeur of the Transamerica Pyramid on the other.
We love to look at the city from a top, and a perfect spot for that in San Francisco is the top of the Coit Tower. We saw all the sight and interesting place we visited that day and planned to visit the next lying in front of us. There was the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, tiny lone Alcatraz Island, the Transamerica Pyramid, the pier we have been to earlier.
From the Coit Tower, we headed west first downhill and then up. In about 30 minutes we reached the Lombard Street. This small crooked & steep road is featured on many postcards and is one of the main San Francisco sights.
Our last stop that day was the Golden Gate bridge. We walked along the coast in search of the best spot to take a picture with this famous landmark. Later, we continued through the Presidio park and walked all the way to Castro district. My legs were screaming from exhaustion and pain and I was sure I’d feel it, even more, the next day.
We spent the next morning more leisurely. We found a perfect place for breakfast, a small shop called Blue Hawaii Acaí Café and had our first Acai bowls. It was like having a bowl of ice-cream for breakfast.
Next, we went to the Alexander Book Company bookstore, wandered through its aisles and left with three new books. From the bookshop, we walked to the Pier 33 to catch a boat to the Alcatraz.
Alcatraz didn’t change much in the last twelve years. There’s some reconstruction work going on, but other than that it’s still the same as I remember it. It’s interesting to listen to the audio guide and learn about the history of Alcatraz. At the same time, it’s weird to walk through a former prison and listen to stories about prison riots. Alcatraz, with its view of San Francisco about two miles away, is a sad and isolated place. It must have been difficult for the guards and their families to live here.
To cheer up after the Alcatraz, we went to Pier 39 to watch a grand finale of a magic show. It was impressive, and I was glad to be in the audience and the magician’s assistant.
We flew to Las Vegas the next day. I’ll write about our time there in another post.