San Francisco was everything I expected it to be. When I arrived I caught the train from the airport to the downtown area which was near my hostel. The moment I exited the subway on the corner of Powell & Market Streets I could feel the San Francisco vibe. I think this gave me the energy and enthusiasm to walk to my hostel, which I thought was only going to be four blocks uphill, but turned out to be eight blocks uphill, with my 14kg back pack.
Like usual I spent the first day riding around the city on a Hop On Hop Off Bus. The many hills, bustling city streets and the architecture of the buildings all contribute to the vibe of this city which just feels alive with character.
Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for real, after seeing it in so many pictures and on TV so many times over the years was a wow moment.
I also couldn’t resist the urge to find Alamo Square park and the Full House houses. The HOHO can’t take people there because it’s a residential street, so it drops you off about 2 blocks away and you can walk there (uphill again).
You often see Fire Trucks trucks driving around the city and the HOHO guide informed us this was because 1/3 of all Fire Trucks must be out of the Fire Stations at anyone time in case an earthquake happens. When I was flying between Seattle and San Francisco I was lucky enough to be upgraded to an exit row window seat. From the sky not far out of San Fransisco you can actually see part of the San Andreas fault line, it looks like a line of cliffs where the earth breaks up onto a plateau.
The next day I took a ferry to the infamous Alcatraz Island. This was another place I had heard many stories about over the years, and it was interesting to actually go there and see the island and cell block where the prisoners where detained. Luckily I booked my ticket a few months ago. I spoke to a number of people who were disappointed they couldn’t go because they hadn’t pre-booked tickets. My trip to Alcatraz was followed by a late lunch and stroll around pier 39.
While I was in San Fransisco I also took a tour which included the Muir Woods, the Sanoma wine region and a ferry ride between Sausalito and the pier. I wanted to see how US wineries compared to Australian wineries. The Muir Woods were lovely, but I wasn’t to impressed with the wineries. The tour visited 3 wineries and I tasted wines at two of them. Each winery charged $15 to taste 5-6 wines of their choosing, none of which were spectacular. I think I can safely say that Australia does wine better that the US.
I also visited the California Academy of Sciences which is located at Golden Gate Park. There were some interesting exhibits including an Earthquake exhibit, a walk through rainforest terrarium, an aquarium and planetarium.
All in all I really enjoyed San Fransisco, it was a city with its own character.