‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…’
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is always beautiful, but the day I arrived the city had really turned it on. The sun was shining, the water was blue and sparkling and I easily remembered why I’d fallen in love with this city the last time I visited.
I arrived at the airport about five minutes before Mum and Fred came through customs – I must’ve been really excited about those Australian food products! We decided to head to the city for lunch and to make A Plan. My car is awesome but not quite big enough for more than one, so we headed straight for San Jose to get the rooftop tent. Installation only took about twenty minutes at Tepui and we took the coastal highway back to the city to avoid traffic, although it took longer because of the constant stopping along the way for beautiful ocean views with the water sparkling. The stops were quick though because of the chill wind that had come up, so it was back to the city for a quiet dinner and bed.
Tram time! San Fran is super hilly so the trams are the best way to get around the city. After heading down to the main stop by our hotel we discovered that the wait time was looooong…. but someone told us that if we headed for the next stop up the hill we’d have a better chance as they never filled the tram at the first stop and sure enough we were off much sooner! First stop was Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch at a restaurant that… well, it was nice, and the view was loverly over the harbour and to the Golden Gate but the food left a little to be desired.
Next… to the arcade! There’s an old school arcade by the wharf full of excellent old games and weird novelty hanging scene games and one where a herd of buffalo just slowly head butted an apparently dead guy…. Hours of fun for the whole family!
Off to visit the sea lions on Pier 39! After first arriving in 1989 the sea lions completely took over K dock in 1990. They’re loud, they’re smelly, and they’re lazy lol. And so many of them, it’s pretty incredible. Easy to see why the dock was just kind of given over to them in the end – how do you suggest to hundreds of sea lions that they find a new home?
Mum had fond memories of Ghiradellhi Square so we wandered up there and, while it wasn’t quite what she remembered, it DID have an excellent chocolate shop, hooray! I ate a salted caramel and chocolate something something that nearly caused a coma – like seriously I couldn’t even eat the free chocolate they gave me on the way out… I had to save it for the next day.
Back to the tram and on to Lombard St – the crookedest street in the world, with eight hairpin turns. It’s high on the hill with beautiful views and, while I’m sure it costs a fortune to live on Lombard St the tourists must drive the locals crazy – mum managed to stand in front of someone trying to get into his house while she was trying to get a photo but he didn’t seem to mind too much.
After a short tussle to get back on a tram we managed it, with me hanging on to the outside because it was full, to a little brewery called Mikkellar Bar for dinner – really excellent food and I liked at least one of the beers, which is pretty good for me…
A driving day – straight over the Golden Gate to Sausalito for breakfast and to see the floating houses, then north to Muir Woods, home to the giant redwoods! So beautiful and awe-inspiring, they’re just huge! AND! There was a chipmunk! Adorable and super exciting.
South again to the Presidio and lunch by the bridge just in time to see them filming Murder in the First! We told one of the security guys that we’d never heard of it and he assured us we weren’t missing out on much – clearly word-of-mouth isn’t their best way of growing their audiences….
Wandered about looking for a good dinner spot and found an excellent little jazz club to spend the evening in.
Last day in San Fran! Wouldn’t be a Golden City trip without heading to Haight-Ashbury. This is the hippy heartland and my favourite spot in San Francisco to wander through shops and streets – so bright and happy. Wandered down to Golden Gate Park to find a carousel. Naturally this was a happy children’s ride, so mum and I had tickets in about three minutes. After spending ten minutes choosing our animals, we were off! Mine was broken so I had to change mid-ride. I know, danger is my middle name.
Next stop, the Japanese Gardens where mum quickly made me climb onto a bridge for a photo op where I got stuck for a brief while; heels + steep bridge – A Plan = stuck. After finding our way out of there I lay in the sun and made a daisy chain before we chose a small bar at random and celebrated happy hour with absinthe cocktails before finding an Irish pub to have our last San Fran dinner in.