I should have been prepared for the hills in San Francisco. I mean, I knew it was a hilly city. I just didn’t fully realize until I was in an airport shuttle en route to my friend Nicole’s apartment.
Hill #1 – “That was a big hill.”
Giant hill #2 – “I hope we don’t roll back.”
Giant hill #3 – “Holy shit.”
Oh, and walking them? I felt like I should have left with the most perfectly toned booty and legs ever. Spoiler: I didn’t.
The next couple of days involved a combination of walking and driving tours, eating and exploring. I have to admit that I left the city with a neutral feeling. I didn’t hate the city by any means, but I didn’t love it. And I mean “I didn’t love it” as in I didn’t like the city enough to want to move there. But visit again? For sure! It was such a different city than anywhere else I’ve ever visited. It wasn’t a bad thing…it was just so different. Being in the car with Nicole while she tried parking on a hill also made me nervous.
We drove or walked through places like Russian Hill, Chinatown, the Marina District, down the Embarcadero, North Beach (a favorite area for me), the Financial District, Pac Heights, the Haight, the Mission, the Castro, the Tenderloin (it was a direct route for where we were headed but I don’t recommend hanging out in this part of town), Richmond District and the Presidio.
We stopped by the Harley Davidson store near the Fisherman’s Wharf to get our dads a shirt, made our way through Ghirardelli Square and then stopped for a peek at Lombard Street. Walking up the hill between Ghirardelli Square and Lombard street was awful. Plain awful.
Nicole then led us to the Ina Coolbrith Park for an incredible view of the city. It’s the highest point in Russian Hill (or close to it), and it almost felt like this secret park that tourists don’t know about.
We ate yummy pizza from Tony’s in North Beach, had tacos from Tacolicious, got breakfast from La Boulange, had clam chowder and crab cakes from Boudin, ate at four different sushi restaurants including Elephant (get the flaming sea bass roll!), and waited in line for dessert from Tartine. Oh, and I stopped at Brioche Bakery & Cafe for a croissant and latte my last morning in town.
I didn’t want to do many touristy things, so there was a lot of hanging out and catching up over the weekend. That happens when you don’t see someone for over 10 months. The trip was such a nice vacation. Other than a couple things, we didn’t really make an itinerary. Just decided what do to once I got out there.
I did learn a couple things about the city. For instance:
– Pedestrians have the right away at four-way stops. So cars have to stop for you to cross the street. (Follow the traffic signals when there’s stop lights, though.)
– The tracks for the trolleys vibrate and are loud.
– The majority of buses are zero emission vehicles. They’re put on cables to get around the city, but can disconnect if needed.
– The fog has it’s own name: Karl. It’s not afraid to take over and blanket the city.
– Ficus trees are quite popular in the city and line many streets.
– And lastly, even though I just went to San Francisco for the first time, November is THE time to go. Seriously. It was 70 and sunny the whole time (other than my last morning). It’s off season so there isn’t the crowds like the summer months. It was awesome.
I was scared I wasn’t going to get out of Denver on my way home. There was snow coming down and it was a “balmy” 18 degrees. My flight was delayed and planes were having to be de-iced. But thankfully I made it home, only to have that cold weather and snow to arrive in St. Louis a couple days later.
Is it time to go back to California yet?