We recently visited the USA for 5 and half weeks. It was full of fun, drunken nights, mischief, laughs and plenty of adventures. 11 plane rides, 30hr road trips, late nights and lots of dark eye circles. I bring you our journey and thoughts of each city we visited. First up San Francisco – The land of the free spirits and almost anything goes.
Almost everyone we speak to about San Francisco says nothing but praises and absolute admiration for this city. So what is it about San Francisco that makes people fall in love? Aside from the beautiful landmarks and steep rolling hills, this city has a special hipster trendy vibe – anything really goes in this town. The weather is completely unpredictable, you are bound to experience 4 seasons in the one day (very similar to Melbourne). I suggest you pack a light jacket just in case. Overall we found the people to be super friendly and plenty to do.
Here’s a snapshot of our highlights of the city:
Alcatraz – It is one of the most interesting and intense prisons we’ve ever visited. There’s a creepy vibe about this place, it will leave you feeling uncomfortable yet wanting to find out more on its dark past. Alcatraz was one of my favourite tourist attractions in San Francisco, somewhere I highly recommend you visit. Make sure you book tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment and the sunset tour is a must!
Haight & Ashbury – This hipster town really reminded us of home, reminds me of Newtown – Sydney. Haight-Ashbury is famous for “The Summer of Love” back in the 60’s where hippies meet. It’s also famous for breeding famous musicians such as Jimmy Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and The Grateful Dead to name a few. I think the saying “Anything goes” originated in Haights & Ashbury. The relaxed, chilled environment really makes you feel welcome. It’s the place where you’ll come to release your inner child. Make sure you visit the Betty Page boutique and find your girlfriend or partner some trendy retro dresses.
Pier 39 – This place is like a Darling Harbour of Sydney. You get your beautiful sea views with plenty of tourists. To be honest I came I saw and I left as quickly as I can. It was too crowded and everything seems to be a little bit more expensive. What’s new huh – Complete and utter tourist trap! Although I have to admit if you have kids it’s a good idea to take them here as its very family orientated with their quirky gift stores.
Golden Gate Bridge – This famous bridge is one of the top tourists hotspots in SF, got its reputation through Hollywood films and Full House – TV Series. We checked this place out to see if it was as beautiful as people say it is. Aside from the view of the city, the bridge itself is not spectacular. I think Sydney Harbour Bridge is better designed. If you want to check out and take photos of the famous houses where “Full House” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” was filmed, you will have to catch a bus and walk about a block to get there. As recent government changes has banned all tourist buses from stopping in front of these houses due to noise and disturbance concerns.
Chinatown and Little Italy – The stretch from the beginning of Chinatown through to Little Italy is very long. It’s a nice walk with plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you entertained along the way. Very similar to the craziness you’ll expect to find at Sydney’s Patty’s market :).
Last but not least, the Trolley! Its like a Melbourne Tram so if you really want to get around town its one of the best forms of transport. Just don’t catch it near Union Square, as it gets too busy with too many tourists.
Like any city there’s always a bad side. On our first night of arriving in San Francisco, we were so hungry that we wanted to walk around looking for food at 11 o’clock at night. Our hotel concierge advised us there’s not a lot of stores open at this time but there was some shops open in the neighborhood Tenderloin that was not far from Union Square. We almost walked to Tenderloin but decided it was too late and instead bought hotdogs from a seven eleven. What we didn’t realise about Tenderloin was it is regarded as one of the highest crime related area. Heavily populated with homelessness and it is recommended to avoid if you are a tourist. Homelessness is very apparent in SF – After 6pm, when all the retail stores have shut you will see some harmless, extremely vocal and violent homeless individuals roam the streets. This is quite a sight and we weren’t expecting to see homeless people at almost every street corner.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in San Francisco! More city reviews to come.