48 Hours in San Francisco, Part 2

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When





Our second day in San Francisco was far less peaceful and far more exhausting than our first evening there. I loathe the idea of doing anything too touristy (here's looking at you, double decker bus tours), but I also often feel very torn when visiting someplace new. You couldn't go to New York City for the first time without seeing Times Square, right? You couldn't live in the LA Metro area and not want a glimpse of the Hollywood sign every once in a while. Just like those scenarios, you can't visit San Francisco for the first time and not want to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. It's a love/hate thing, but these are the things we set out to see last Saturday.

We took an electric streetcar down the hill to Pier 39 where we immediately questioned our decision to visit a tourist destination on a holiday weekend. We walked around the outside of the pier instead of through the shops and restaurants, avoiding 90% of the people and frustration. We could see the Bay Bridge from one side and Alcatraz Island from the end. I would almost be willing to go on a tour of the prison, but Dan was completely against the idea. I can see where that could be pretty creepy, though. The other side of the pier offered us our first glance at the Golden Gate Bridge. We continued back towards dry land, passing the sea lions and various street performers before wandering through Fisherman's Wharf. The entire street was swarming with people, but it's not like we didn't know that going in.

View of Alcatraz in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When


We hurried over to Ghirardelli Square for chocolate samples and to hunt down vintage-style postcards before heading into Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals. I read on another blog that renting bikes from Blazing Saddles and biking over towards the bridge was the highlight of the writer's visit to San Francisco, so I figured we should try it as well. We biked a couple of miles towards the bridge along the waterfront before turning around and heading back. Most visitors actually bike over the bridge and down into Sausalito where they catch a ferry back into the city, but my stamina is low and I've been pretty weak since I injured my back in June. Even though, it was nice to ride over towards the bridge and I would love to go all the way if we visit again when I'm in better shape!

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
Biking to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
Views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
Views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When


After returning our bikes we just started walking away from the crowds and aimlessly into the city. We were finally able to hail a cab, which was probably one of the best things we could have done at that moment. Our cab driver drove us up and down, up and down, over hills and through neighborhoods we wouldn't have seen by taking the streetcars. We topped Nob Hill and descended back down towards Union Square, and I was so thrilled by our mini taxi-tour back to our hotel. I was also thrilled that I didn't have to walk anymore because my legs were rubber at this point.

Colorful townhomes lining the streets of San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When


By this time we realized that it was nearly 3:30 and we hadn't had any lunch! We started wandering the streets surrounding our hotel, ending up at a random bar, Jasper's Corner Tap, for cider and appetizers. (The Jasper fries were awesome!) After resting our legs for a couple of hours I decided I wouldn't be happy leaving the city unless I'd taken in the view from Alamo Square Park, a neighborhood park with a view of the city along with the famous Painted Ladies. We taxied there and snapped a few pictures before walking several blocks back towards our hotel.

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
Me looking like a mess after walking and biking all day.

I would have loved to have finished our night with another grand dinner and amazing night out on the town, but we were both just too damn tired. I have no shame in admitting that we had settled in and were watching one of the Hobbit movies on HBO by 10pm. Wimps! But it was a long day and we were just as happy doing nothing together as we would have been buying $15 martinis just for the view. (Next time, Top of the Mark!)

We had a really nice breakfast the next morning before an uneventful trip back home. For those who fly often, you know that this is a good thing. The fact that our flight wasn't delayed was probably a first for me when flying with United. Our trip was quick, but a really great first impression. I hope we can go back sometime soon, maybe in this next year. It's so close, after all. And maybe next time I'll make it across that big red bridge. =)

48 Hours in San Francisco, Part 1

Thursday, September 4, 2014

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Busy Living

Dan and I didn't really celebrate our four year anniversary back in July. Instead we began looking at places within a few hours driving or flying distance where we could visit somewhere new over a long weekend. After going back and forth between several places, we finally chose San Francisco. Neither Dan or I had visited San Francisco before and it was the first time we had traveled somewhere new together; we always seem to end up somewhere that one of us has been to before, so this was really exciting!

One thing I have learned living here is that Californians fly everywhere. Even though we could have driven or taken the train to SF in about six hours, flying up was a better option... when your time is limited, don't spend it in a car! (I've also learned that flying short distances here is much more affordable than on the East Coast. A flight that short back east would have cost us 3x as much, easily.) We hopped on a plane here in Orange County around noon on Friday and were on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit train) by 1:30pm.

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When




We stayed at The Abri in Union Square and couldn't have picked a better location. We were surrounded by shops and restaurants and were only one block from the BART, a streetcar stop, and the infamous cable cars.

After dropping our things in our room we set out with plans to get lost and found ourselves walking the streets of Chinatown, picking through sets of chopsticks and Buddha figurines. The Chinese population in San Francisco is the largest one in the world outside of China itself and this neighborhood was an exciting one to find ourselves in. Of course there were lots of touristy shops lining the streets, but unlike Chinatown in NY, no one was harassing me or cornering me to buy a fake Rolex or Coach purse. (Sidenote: please don't support that industry.)

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now WhenVisiting Chinatown | 48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

The historic cable cars that SF is known for are sadly just a tourist trap at this point. The line to get onto one went down the block, wrapped around the turn-around, and went halfway back up the other side of the block; it had to be a 2+ hour wait. Luckily there is another more efficient way to travel and still get the "historic transportation" experience in SF: the historic streetcars. At $2 a ride and with stops at nearly every downtown and waterfront attraction, we found ourselves on the streetcars multiple times.

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When


Dan and I had dinner reservations at a waterfront sushi restaurant, Ozumo, complete with a perfect view of the Oakland Bay Bridge light show while we ate. We followed dinner with a walk along the waterfront and great views of the city. Everything was quiet and peaceful. We had only been in the city for eight hours and I already loved it. I will follow up with day two of our trip tomorrow!

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When

48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When
48 Hours in San Francisco, California | Em Then Now When