Yesterday evening we endured the really long flight from Boston to SFO. Our hotel is only about a mile from the airport so having a complimentary shuttle ride there was nice. The hotel is also located about 100 yards from the BART station we need to get into San Francisco. And the room is cute, too!
So today was our tour day in San Francisco and neither Eric nor I had been there before. We had some of the hotel’s coninental breakfast and then went to figure out the BART train. It was pretty easy to get on, and we had a nice half hour train ride to figure out our way around the city with the 7 maps we had ended up with. We got off the BART at Powell street, which conveniently is also the end of one of the cable car lines! We found the ticket booth for the cable cars and got on one. I really wanted to ride them, so it worked out well that they were right there and the line went where we were going.
The cable cars were jam packed with people, though I can’t understand why locals would want to ride them. They were extremely rickety and kind of overpriced compared to other forms of transportation in the area. They also get overcrowded with tourists like us. We rode the Powell-Hyde line from end to end, marvelling at the ridiculous hills in the city. At one point we went down a grade so steep everyone was sliding on their seats and our view of the city was very sideways.
We arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of our cable car ride and walked around a bit. We walked up and down the pier enjoying the morning and checking things out. Eventually we headed to where our sight seeing bus would be leaving from. We had bought tickets for a double decker open top bus that made 20 stops at all the must-see places in San Francisco, and it allowed us to get on and off wherever and whenever we wanted all day. It also had a great narration track and offered the best vantage point for most sights. We actually stayed on the bus taking pictures from the top from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way to Golden Gate Park where we finally hopped off. We spent about a half hour wandering around the outside of a couple museums and finding photo-ops until another bus came by.
Next stop on the bus was the long awaited Golden Gate Bridge. Eric and I were both looking forward to see it up close, and our bus offered us the opportunity to walk the bridge and catch the bus again on the other end. We were getting rather hungry at this point so we stopped in a cafe right before the bridge and had a snack to fuel our walk. Walking across the bridge was fantastic. Many people were doing the same, some biking, some joggging, some with dogs. We took a ton of pictures of each other, the distant city of San Francisco, and some nice views of Alcatraz. It was so sunny and so breezy and perfect, the walk was super pleasant. On the other end we hung out in mini-rest area similar to the one on the south side where we started and waited for our bus. I think this is when we got sunburned.
Taking the bus back over the bridge was an experience. We sat topside, thinking it would be super cool to be that high and open air going over the bridge. It was pretty cool, but also extremely windy. It was like being on the most intense roller coaster of your life. While on the bus back we decided we wanted to get better pictures of the crooked Lombard street that we had only seen from the cable car so far. Since our tour bus didn’t actually stop near there we weighed our best options for getting to it. We finally decided on getting off the bus at a stop on Lombard street and walking the ten blocks to the crooked part. This would have been a great idea except we didn’t know that the 2 blocks just before the crooked part are some of the more ridiculously steep ones. I’ve never experience walking at such an angle before, and it was quite tiring. The crooked street was actually a little disappointing, though it was fun to watch cars drive down. I think it might look prettier when they plant the flowers around it. We walked back down to the wharf after taking pictures of the crookedness.
Eric has been waiting to try In-N-Out burger, a west coast chain, since we’ve planned this trip. Lucky for him there was one right in the wharf where we were, so we stopped in for a snack. He enjoyed it a lot, and their fries were pretty good. After In-N-Out burger we walked up to Ghirardelli Square which is what I’d been waiting for all day. It was so awesome, so much chocolate everywhere! We bought quite a bit, actually. Yum. But we definitely had to leave there before things got out of hand. So our next stop was the Musee Mecanique, a little museum showcasing old arcade attractions. It was really really awesome and I’m glad we had time to see it. They had those moving picture boxes from the late 1800s, old fortune teller boxes, pinball machines from the 50s, the original pong machine, and many other things. In addition they had a bunch of old instruments. Several old player pianos and quite a few “orchestra in a box” machines that acted as rudimentary juke boxes. The best part was everything was functional and you could play with all of them for 25 cents each!! I always wanted to look into one of those moving picture boxes and crank the handle and watch a movie. That was super fun.
We spent some time debating what to do for dinner. Boudin Bakery sounded good, but we didn’t end up eating there. We actually hopped back on our tour bus to the Union Square area and ended up walking around for quite some time without settling on a food place. Finally we decided on this cute little mexican shop where we got burritos. The theming was awesome for a hole in the wall, it was made to look like a little street from Mexico. Very cool, and a good end to our one day tour of San Francisco.