Monday, 23 October 2017

If you’re going to San Francisco…

….you might never want to leave.

Honestly? I didn’t know how much I’d like San Francisco. I’d read so many blog posts recently about how many people didn’t love the city (The Londoner, Hannah Gale, to name a few ). But oh my god, I completely fell in love with it.

SF was our first stop on our road trip of California. We flew there directly, which took 11 hours from Heathrow. It was a Virgin Atlantic flight, which I find really hit and miss – this was delayed 4 hours because the flight after ours had broken down, so they decided to combine the two…okay?!

Disclaimer: Ian has friends in San Francisco (who I’d met before and loved) so we did get a pretty cool insider view of the city. Maybe that’s partly why I loved it so much. They picked us up from the airport and took us for Mexican food, at which point my body presumably realised it was like 6am British time, and we gave up and went to the hotel to visit our pillows.

We stayed at the Chancellor hotel on Union Square, which I would really recommend. San Francisco is EXPENSIVE, but this was pretty reasonably priced, bang in the centre of everything (i.e. a safe walk to almost anywhere you’d want to go), they give you free warm cookies in reception and the rooms are clean, modern and large. Trip Advisor reviews had warned us the rooms were small – which they are, by American standards. If you’re English and ever stayed in a hotel room in London then you will be like ‘what? Small? This is bigger than my flat.’

In terms of what we did and what I’d recommend:

Angel Island/Alcatraz – we bought these tickets because we waited too long and couldn’t get tickets just to Alcatraz, but I’m so glad we did, because if anything, I liked Angel Island more – the amount of stuff that happened on that tiny island is actually a bit mad, and our tour guide was brilliant. Alcatraz was really good, though, as was just being on the water. We happened to have amazing weather (no fog! I think they’re making the fog up) and so we could see the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge and it just made my heart happy.

An American football game – this is actually in Santa Clara. One of our very kind friends gave us his season ticket to go to the SF 49ers v.s…. some other team. LA maybe? Anyway, he and our other friend also gave us this really good advice on what trains/tubes to get and so on, which we promptly ignored, meaning we got a 2 1/2 hour uber through insane bottle neck traffic with a weird driver who kept offering us figs. The moral of the story is DON’T IGNORE YOUR AMERICAN FRIENDS, and also, you haven't even SEEN traffic till you've been to America. Moving on, the football was really fun. It’s very family orientated and besides the sport there’s loads of entertainment (I want to be a cheerleader now…) Fans sit in the same stands as away stands! Imagine that at Manchester Utd v.s. Liverpool. Don’t hang around if you want food though, because I was very sad when they ran out of nachos. Luckily P made up for it by providing us with red sparkling wine, which I’ve never had before but would strongly recommend.

Cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge – this was my dream, and it did not disappoint. Honestly the sun was so bright and it was so pretty and I was singing  to myself quite loudly (the traffic is louder, it’s fine). One of the best bits of our trip.
However, I do not necessarily recommend wheeling your bike back up several mountains to a bike shop. San Francisco is hilly.
If you don’t want to cycle you can walk, or at another stage our friend drove us over and then up to a really cool viewpoint but don't ask me where it was or how to get there. Either way, it's really breathtaking and it doesn't disappoint.  

Drinks in the Mission district – we again had amazing Mexican food and then drinks on our night out. This might not be as much fun if you don’t have any friends there, but then again, Ian bumped into two American girls he went to uni with, one of whom has been living for the past two years on a barely inhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. So, you should go, and you might bump into your best friend or Tom Cruise or something – there’s literally about as much chance!
We also went to another really cool bar, but I have actually completely forgotten where it was!

Sausalito -  this is like a little seafront town on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. We sadly missed a chilli festival there, but on the other hand that meant we went to a Mexican restaurant and I ate possibly the best nachos of my life and had a margarita the size of my head. Happiness.

Hiking in Muir Woods – just the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, this was a chance for us to see the insane Californian red wood trees without going all the way to Yosemite or something. It’s an absolutely beautiful place and time just flew there. It made me 100% want to go to Yosemite when I can.

Fisherman’s Wharf – some people probably think this is touristy and it probably is, but we LOVED walking along the seafront in the sunshine. I ate fish tacos, we went and saw the sea lions, which were so cute and hilarious, and we went in several hot sauce shops which kept my husband happy. We also walked down that road with all the turns in it on the way there, which is really fun and also so beautifully kept.

Mr Holmes Bakery – I went, I ate a custard doughnut (donut, to you Yanks). Sadly the neon light wasn’t working which didn’t stop 100% of basic bitches from posing with it. It wasn’t actually as good as an amazing bagel place we went to which again I can’t remember the name of. Worst blogger ever.

Is that it? I think that’s it. Our friends were the most amazing tour guides and knew so much about their city that it literally put my knowledge of London to shame (as well as knowing all the best Mexican places!) There was so much more we could’ve done - we didn’t have time to go shopping, or to Napa Valley, or to Yosemite or even on the trams. We’ll just have to go back. How sad. 

The main thing was though that I just felt immediately and completely at home there. It had a similarity to London in a sense, I guess - it's a city, after all - but it also felt somehow smaller, and everyone was very friendly and - don't tell my mum, but I could totally move there. Not a bad start to our trip! 

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