Our trip to San Francisco
If you follow me on Instagram (@laura_peruchi) and on Snapchat (lauraperuchiny), you probably saw that last week I was in California. Finally, we went to the west coast of the United States. We stayed in San Francisco – we visited some very special friends – and even did a mini roadtrip for some cities nearby. By the way, I wanted to take the opportunity to present Analuisa’s blog, my friend who lives there and I went to visit. We stayed from Wednesday to Sunday and Ana planned the three days in the city for us and we saw a lot of things! For those who are planning to visit the city – and other cities in the region, follow her blog and Instagram (@sftips). And I confess: San Francisco has exceeded my expectations! It was one of the American cities that I most loved to visit. Every neighborhood that I visited, I felt like was in a different city. Sometimes it was like Florianopolis, sometimes Miami, sometimes New York and even Paris. The city is beautiful and has a plenty of things to do! I will share with you what we did there!
A flight From New York to San Francisco lasts about 5 to 6 hours – and the time zone there is 3 hours less. When you arrive in the city, it is very good: we left New York at 7:40pm and we got there almost 11pm. I confess that I thought I would suffer with the difference, but it was ok – especially to wake up early. We stayed at our friend’s home and, on Wednesday morning, we explored the region of Embarcadero and the piers. Our tour started near the Bay Bridge. I know that the Golden Gate is famous, but the Bay Bridge is also beautiful – especially at night. We walked and and enjoyed the view to the bay until Ferry Building Marketplace – place that reminded me Chelsea Market. The building was inaugurated in 1898 to receive nearly 50 thousand people who came to the city through ferry, the main access when the bridges were not completed. The market has cafes, restaurants, chocolatiers, wineries, bakeries … a delight! Try the empanadas from El Porteño and take the opportunity to taste different kinds of olive oil in Stonehouse California Olive Oil and also try a dark chocolate cookie in Marla’s Cafe. And of course, go to the back of the building to take beautiful photos. Oh, before arriving at the Ferry Building, we also took a picture in front of Cupid’s Span, a huge monument with a cupid’s arrow.
San Francisco Bay has several piers and the most famous of these is the Pier 39 – and the major attractions are the sea lions and the carousel. There are several restaurants – all touristy, but a good choice is Boudin Bakery – try the Bread Bowl Clam – soup in a bread, super famous in San Francisco. We asked the Clam Chowder and the Chilli, super delicious ($ 9 on average). There are some souvenir shops in the area and also some churros carts (I couldn’t try) . From there, we took a Uber and went to a small park called Patricia’s Green, which has a very beautiful and different temple in terms of architecture. We take very nice pictures! But the biggest reason for our trip up there was the Smitten Ice Cream (432 Octavia St # 1a), that serves an ice cream made with nitrogen. No lies: it was one of the most delicious ice cream I have tasted in my whole life. I chose a flavor with cookies (the flavors change every day) – the smaller size ($5) is more than enough.
After that, we walked to Alamo Square (10 minute walk), the famous park overlooking the iconic setting of Full House. It is so cute! The place is great to sit and rest. But we had no time to lose, hehehe. We went to an amazing place, Palace of Fine Arts, which, in addition to host art exhibitions, is an attraction for tourists and residents and also one of the favorite places for photo shoots. The structure is huge and has all a European atmosphere. Too beautiful! And the lake in front gives a special charm to the place. To finish our first day in San Francisco,we had to see the Golden Gate! I am fascinated by bridges and was very anxious to see her up close. It’s amazing, people! A giant structure, which blends perfectly with the landscape. The nice place to take pictures is the Coastal Trail, where people with bikes go to cross the bridge. Some people suggested me to visit Sausalito, a small city across the bridge. But I’m from the team that don’t like to fill my days with a million things to do and then just go for places to say I was there, you know? I like to enjoy and Ana suggested that we should visit Sausalito in another occasion. Is an excuse to go back to San Francisco! An addendum for transport: San Francisco has a great public transport system, with bus, subway and a smaller train sets – electrical cable cars (F line and Cable Car), all integrated into the same system, the MUNI. They are all accessible with the Clipper card, the small card that you carry. Fare is $ 2.25.
Even walking during all day, we went to The View (39, 780 Mission St), a kind of rooftop which is on the 39th floor of the Marriot Marquis. Admission is free, it’s good to arrive early to get a table! There are some snacks options – because what is special here is the bar! But the coolest part of this place is the view of the city! Speechless!
Thursday was the day that we chose to visit Alcatraz Island where is located the building that it was one of the most famous maximum security prisons in the United States. We bought tickets online and paid $33 each. It includes the boat transport, access to the island and the prison. You chose a time when you buy your ticket and there comes the obvious tip: arrive early! We were delayed and we had to wait for the next boat. The trip takes about 20 minutes from Pier 33 and the view of San Francisco is beautiful. If the sky is clear, the view of the Golden Gate is also spectacular. Alcatraz Prison worked between 1934 and 1963, and there passed figures like Robert F. Stroud, James “Whitey” Bulger and the legendary mobster Al Capone. At first, the idea of visiting a prison may sound a bit boring, but the experience changes with the audio guide – which makes the tour amazing. This tour took us about 2 hours and a half – and you also have an incredible view !
From there, already hungry, we had lunch in a very nice Mexican restaurant, Tropisueño, a self service style. Warning: the burrito is huge and you can easily share with someone. Besides the traditional delicacies of Mexican cuisine, there are other dishes (with rice and beans!). The guacamole is delicious! Afther this, we just pass by Union Square and checked the Hearts in San Francisco. This project was started in 2004 and since then 131 beautiful sculptures in heart shapes were created by artists from the area. We continue our walking with one of the city’s most classic rides: Cable Car. The Cable Car is a tourist cable car and a great place to take a walk in the city and have an overview. You need to know that the Cable Car has three lines: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason and California. The first two are the favorite of the tourists and start at the corner of Market and Powell Street. We took the Powell-Hyde, passing by Lombard Street – where we got out. Ah, remember that the value of the Cable Car is $ 7 and the ride is very nice. When you board, try to sit in the open area – if it is too crowded, it worths waiting a while for the next one, because it is the best place to enjoy the ride. Lombard Street was our stop, as I mentioned, and the view from up there is incredible. The street is super steep and all cute and yields great pictures at the bottom too. Not far away is the famous Ghirardelli Square (900 North Point St.) – is a chocolates brand from San Francisco that have little shop and cafe. Skip the first cafe, where everyone goes, and go to the back, to the other cafe, emptier and with wonderful views! The strength is due to the delicious ice cream – and very well served, huge portions. You can share, certainty! At night, we had dinner at The Slanted Door, a fancy Vietnamese restaurant. It is located in the Ferry Building, and it is essential to make a reservation! The place is busy because of the fantastic view of the Bay Bridge. We were two couples and we ordered three dishes to share among all of us and it was enough!
Friday was rainy and we took the opportunity to explore some stores like Ross (799 Market St), super famous for its attractive prices. It is good to go in the morning when the store is super organized. There is a wide selection of shoes, handbags and clothing also, all of the best known brands, such as Levi’s, Calvin Klein and so on. The prices are really very good! With patience, you can find plenty and good shopping. In fact, the region is full of discount stores, such as Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, Saks Off Fifth and also Target. After lunching in Westfield San Francisco Centre (cool mall!), we went to Castro, the gay neighborhood where at an intersection of Castro St. to 18th St. there are Rainbow colors crosswalks! The neighborhood is cute and it worths spending some time over there – specially to visit the Human Rights Campaign Action Center and Store, full of products that extol the struggle for equality and whose revenue goes into this type of project. In fact, San Francisco itself is a city well engaged in this cause, lots of love! Ana and I ended our day in a beauty salon, Public Barber Salon – great place for those who want a hair cut for a fair price. Of course, the salon is unisex, following the vibe of the city. When we were coming back, we walked a lot in Chinatown – and we discovered a Shiseido store and other Korean shop in town, it worths researching!
Another super important point: the weather in the city! San Francisco is the kind of place where the mid-season prevails throughout the year. There is no strong summer or winter. It is nice to have clothing like jeans, shirts, T-shirts and always carry a little jacket because the wind is the protagonist!
We spent three super intense days in San Franisco, that made me be delighted to San Francisco. When they say California has another vibe, it’s not a lie. I’ve been living in New York for two years ago and I feel at home here, but it was remarkable the difference of people in San Francisco. I want to return to explore more of the city and I recommend staying more days – we could not. And do not forget to follow Analuisa’s blog and Instagram (@sftips) with city tips – she also makes custom itineraries for those interested. The email is email@example.com
Next week you will find a post with a little bit more of California, with a post telling about on our mini road trip through the cities of Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz!