Seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus were for us the best combinations of being able to explore the city of San Francisco in full and in as little time as possible.
We found our 2 day Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour tickets were the most efficient way of seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus. With limited time it made sense and these two modes of transport were the quickest ways to get around the city and to see and do as much as possible.
Folks, welcome to the penultimate recap of our recent trip to Hawaii and San Francisco.
We arrived here in San Francisco on day 11 after a 6 hour flight from Hawaii.
Our accommodation for this final part of our trip was The Westin St Francis on Union Square (above).
Arriving at 22.20, we were both exhausted from the travel and in much need of sleep after the previous late night in Honolulu at the Hawaiian Luau.
Being really tired, our brains weren’t functioning properly and of course with San Francisco being a city of earthquakes, we never thought of the fact that the pipes in the Westin rattling that night might actually have been a mini tremor!
Anyway, eventually both of us did get a good nights sleep. What might have also helped was the re-acclimatizing from Hawaiian temperatures of 28°C back down to 18°C, more like what we’re accustomed to in our home city of Glasgow during the summer months!
So, onto day 12…..
We started with a hearty breakfast at Lori’s Diner. A Denver Omelette for myself and French toast for Lynne, setting us both up well for the day. Fuel for plenty of walking and exploring.
We then walked through Chinatown to collect our bus tickets and start our bus tour at The Cannery.
Fortunately we were blessed with great weather throughout the duration of our stay. This meant being able to view everywhere from the top deck of the bus with none of our views being obscured by that all too common San Francisco weather phenomenon, fog!
The bus took us all over the city and suburbs enabling us to see all the historical streets and sights like Lombard Street, Golden Gate Park and of course the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco is still a growing modern city so in amongst all the historical buildings are new ones, like the Salesforce tower (above), which when completed will be the tallest in San Francisco.
I’m always interested by the history of places and that’s why seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus worked for us.
The bus tour provided both the scenery and the verbal commentary telling us all about the history of the city without us having to get off and investigate in-depth.
It was fascinating to hear how City Hall (above), the seat of local government in San Francisco, was strengthened after the 1989 earthquake had twisted its dome 4 inches on its base.
The base is now allowed to move with the motion of any future earthquakes, preventing the dome from swinging like a pendulum and shaking the base to pieces.
Right, I’m jumping ahead to day 13 now, because it was that day’s afternoon of our itinerary that we finished off the bus tour.
We visited Alcatraz that morning covered in that separate post.
So, we did the Sausalito part of the bus tour that afternoon.
It would have been nice to have had the time to get off the bus and walk about the picturesque town, but there just wasn’t enough time!
Is there ever?
But at least that bus tour allowed us to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which looked stunning in the sunshine from both it’s North end and the South end.
That night we had dinner in Calzone’s in the Italian quarter. I had a 3 sausage pizza and a slice of lemonchello cake. Lynne had a margarita pizza and tiramisu.
I mention that dinner as it was the only time we ventured further than The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square.
Now you know how much I love my cheesecakes don’t you?
Day 14 was our final full day in San Francisco and of our whole trip.
We should have been up and out of the hotel early making the most of this our last day but instead as we were exhausted and we had a bit of a well deserved lie in!
When we finally got out of the hotel mid morning, I regained composure buy having a hot dog from a street vendor in Union square and we headed off to take a ride in one of the famous cable cars.
Bear with me here for my little story.
In 1998 I was at the Glastonbury music festival and lucky enough to see Tony Bennett perform all of his classics including “I left my heart in San Francisco”.
A particular line of that song “to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars” somehow just stuck with me and I always thought how I’d love to be in San Francisco one day. On one of those “little cable cars”.
Well, roll forward nearly 20 year and there I was. How amazing is that?
And the cable car journey was just as magical as I’d imagined!
Anyway, we took the Powell and Mason line down to Fisherman’s Wharf for a walk about that area and to find somewhere for lunch.
Again we were blessed with amazing weather.
I’d been really careful up to this point to ensure I had plenty of sun screen on throughout our whole trip but I was caught out in San Francisco and actually got sun burnt in the 18°C daily temperature!
Lady Lynne, always being the sensible one (and with having the colour of hair and sensitive skin as she does) never leaves any where we stay without being well covered.
There’s certainly plenty to see in Fisherman’s Wharf not just shops and restaurants.
My favourite place we visited was the old slot machine and video machine arcade. I found an old Galaxian video game there and I could have quite happily spent hours re-living my childhood on that arcade game.
I left a new high score on the video game and I think Lady Lynne was suitably impressed! #still got it 😉
Lynne’s favourite was definitely the sea lion colony at pier 39.
We watched and listened to the sea lions for a while.
They’re definitely fascinating creatures to observe.
I mean what a great life they have!
Basking in the sun and occasionally jumping into the water to do a spot of fishing!
Looking through the old railway terminus at Pier 41 you can see the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien.
Now docked at Pier 45, it’s a “Liberty Ship” and only one of two in its class still sea-worthy. It took part in the D-Day invasion and ferried combat troops.
It’s been fully restored and occasionally sails too. Again, that trip will have to wait until next time.
Alioto’s is one of the most historical restaurants located in Fisherman’s wharf
It was where we had our delicious lunch!
The restaurant was originally just a fish stand in 1925 but by 1932 business was doing well.
Alioto built the first building on Fisherman’s Wharf and began selling crab and shrimp cocktails then a full restaurant opened in 1938.
We finished off our final day in San Francisco with a lunch of clam chowder washed down with a bottle of cool crisp Californian Pinot Grigio, what else could it have been?
Talking about wine, I had wanted to take the wine train up to Napa Valley, but time wasn’t there and that’s another thing added to the list if we make it back here one day!
That list just got longer didn’t it?
Well folks. I hope I’ve given you just a taste of what an amazing cultural and friendly city San Francisco is. Next week I’ll give recap of our trip to Alcatraz, which was undoubtedly Lady Lynne’s favourite part.