As the plane tickets to US are really cheap nowadays, we decided to go on a road trip on the West Coast for two weeks. We started our trip in hilly San Francisco. We stayed 5 days, but I think in 3 days you can have a first impression of the city. As we stayed with friends, I can’t really recommend a hotel. But I noticed that if you’re hotel is near the BART, you can get to the most important places. The public transport system is not really user friendly, but it’s good enough the travel around the city and surroundings.
Our first experience with San Francisco was the famous Lombard Street, which is well-known for having a steep, one-block section that consists of 8 tight hairpin turns!
Fishermen’s wharf is ideal to stroll around the lively bay area and to catch a glimpse of the famous see lions. Also worth a visit in the area is Ghirardelli square with spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and beyond. The market square used to be an illustrious chocolate factory in the 1800s. As I live in Belgium, first I was hesitant about the chocolate, but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. The chocolate sundae with hot fudge is absolutely divine! It’s a must to try!
A climb to Telegraph Hill to admire the views from Coit Tower is absolutely breathtaking (literally)! The tower, offers fantastic views of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (“Aquatic Park”), Alcatraz, Pier 39, Angel Island, Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge, Russian Hill, the Financial District, Lombard Street, and Nob Hill. Behind Coit Tower the Filbert Street Steps can be found. Along the steps is a beautiful garden tended to and paid for by the residents of the street. The steps lead from Telegraph Hill down to Embarcadero, the eastern waterfront roadway of the port of San Francisco. It’s worth to pay a visit to the Ferry building, which is the terminal for ferries that travel across the bay and the shopping center with gourmet shops.
A fun way to get around the city are the cable cars. I ride costs $5, what I would recommend is to buy the 1-day ticket, with which you can take the cable car as many times you want and it’s also valid for the bus. Get off the cable car in China Town for example to visit this lively neighboorhood of the city.
San Francisco is also famous for its prison, Alcatraz. Alcatraz Cruises organises different tours to the island. We took the pm tour, which included a 45 minute audio presentation, featuring actual correctional officers and prisoners who lived and worked on the Island. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the night tour. It’s supposed to be more intimate visit to Alcatraz, with the sunset silhouetting the Golden Gate Bridge and breath-taking views of San Francisco as night falls.
Also a famous tourist attraction are the Painted ladies, the row of 6 Victorian houses bordering Alamo Square Park. Some of you will know them from the opening scene of Full House. From the park catch a glimpse from the skyline of the city.
A good restaurant that I can recommend is the Iluna Basque, a tapas bar with basque influence. The dishes are delicious, I especially liked the seared tuna with Bleu des Basque Sauce and the plums wrapped in bacon. And it’s worth mentioning that the chef participates in the hit show Top Chef!
Stay tuned for my next blog about our road trip down the Californian Coast: Big Sur!