You might have noticed that I’ve been absent from the blog for the past few weeks. If you caught my last post before I went away, you’ll know that I headed on a California road trip. I’d been planning this road trip for the past year, with my boyfriend Scott and two of our best friends, Clare and Kim. We had originally snagged return flights from Manchester to San Francisco International. But, after a bunch of planning – extended our trip to Las Vegas before returning to San Francisco before flying home. I covered the process of planning a road trip here, as well as my bucket list for a California road trip that we were planning our trip around.
The hustle and bustle of San Francisco was something that I fell in love with immediately. I’m so glad we started and ended our California road trip in this city jewel. It’s one of my favourite places that we explored during our trip. From the morning fog (lovingly named Karl by the locals) that burned off into bright blue skies in the afternoon, to the salty-fresh sea air and mountain ranges that stretched in every direction.
We stayed on the city outskirts during our trip there. At this Airbnb in San Bruno (very good rate, but needs some TLC!). Although you could see it as a downside of not being central, we saw our morning Ubers into the Bay as a treat while we whizzed past San Francisco’s incredible views.
Before landing in the city, we had a rough itinerary of things we couldn’t wait to do. Things like Alcatraz, the Piers, the Painted Ladies and Downtown. Ticking off each and every one of these items was so much fun. And wandering through an eclectic city such as this one made me so excited to return just so that I could find what other treasures San Francisco has lying in wait.
On the day we visited Alcatraz, Karl was enjoying a particularly lengthy stay. Bringing a chill into the Bay that reminded me of North West England. The island was quiet: us being only the second tour group to disembark. Exploring the eerie echoes of history left me painting vivid images in my mind of what I can only imagine played out among those hallowed halls.
Your audio tour is complementary to your island tickets. That tour was the thing that affected me the most. Walking the vacant rooms, with the voices of Guards and Prisoners who served on the island instructing you through creating an atmosphere that can’t be put into words. Ultimately, Alcatraz is somewhere that I’d be interested in returning to. If not only to appreciate what great history is left there and the stories left behind of those too.
Walking the Bay Area and stopping by Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building was another highlight of our time in the city. By the time we set foot on the pier, Karl was long gone and bright September sunlight illuminated everything we could see.
Since I’m a vegetarian, I don’t think I got as much enjoyment out of what was an offer as opposed to Clare and Kim. They’re both connoisseurs of seafood in their own right. So, instead, Scott and I stopped by El Porteño Empanadas for a light lunch, where I stuffed my face with the light delights of melted cheese, sauteed onion and garlic butter wrapped in an empanada.
Following our time by the Bay, we were more than excited to stop by The Painted Ladies. They’re a row of idyllic Victorian houses found on the edge of Alamo Square Park. We have a lot of Victorian architecture in England, but the pastel colours of the Painted Ladies made me fall in love with them almost immediately.
After soaking up the atmosphere in the park, we decided to take a leisurely walk through San Francisco to the residence from Mrs Doubtfire. Meandering through the neighbourhood of Pacific Heights on our way.
Walking through residential neighbourhoods of a busy city holds a charm that’s hard to put your finger on. The bustling city juxtaposed against quiet neighbourhoods: enjoying beautiful properties on a sun-strewn afternoon, it felt like a little oasis in San Francisco.
Once leaving Steiner Street, we found ourselves in a race against the sun to see the Golden Gate bridge before sunset. So, we called an Uber and soaked in the drive across Cow Hollow, Presidio and out across the ocean. We were dropped off at Vista Point. And, upon spotting a better vantage point across the mountainside, began hiking our way towards the vista.
Standing at the edge of San Francisco, with the wind whipping our hair and faces – and the city sprawling beneath us, was a magical way to start our California road trip. We basked under the late afternoon sun, without a cloud in sight. And laughed as we tried to take photographs where our hair didn’t look *too* insane.
My brief time in the City by the Bay was enchanting: exploring desolate islands, to sea-starched piers and a bustling downtown. It was the perfect beginning to our California road trip, and somewhere that my memories will be tinged with gold as the bridge, hilltops and valleys that surround the city.
Have you ever done a California road trip? Or visited San Francisco?
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