48 Hours in San Francisco, Part 1
Thursday, September 4, 2014
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.
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.)
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.
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!