Roadtrip week 1: San Francisco
Originally I wanted to tell you about my first week in California. But I’ll have to split my story into two parts, since only San Francisco already takes a lot space!
It takes about 16 houres to travel from Belgium to San Francisco. You can imagine that at my arrival I was kind of exhausted. An eight hour flight from Brussels to Dulles airport at Washington, a three hour wait for our connection and afterwards the final five and a half hours to San Francisco. Though it was a long journey, the United Airlines service made our flights very pleasant. Before my departure I had bought four magazines to keep myself busy on the plane, but that wasn’t necessary at all. United Airlines provides their customers with the latest movies and series! Therefore I was allowed to watch movies on which I didn’t want to spend money such as: ‘What to expect when your expecting’. Definitely flying United again!
In San Francisco we stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Gate hotel, which I would definitely recommend. Though it may not be as fancy as other hotels, its location is perfect. It’s very near to public transport, such as the famous Cable Cars, and there are plenty of restaurants to dine at in the evening.
San Francisco was gorgeous, but trust me visiting this city is a work out on its own. I had read that there were a lot of hills, and if you’ve ever seen Full House, you’d already know that. But I never expected them to be so steep! After the first day I was already extremely sore! It’s probably a sign that I have to work out when back in Belgium.. Thank God San Francisco has an easy public transportation system! No subways here, but even more busses, trolley busses and last but not least: CABLE CARS!
When visiting San Francisco a Cable Car ride is obliged! It’s so much fun, but sometimes quite scary as well. Note that I’m kind a of a coward when it comes to roalercoasters, etc, so that may have had something to do with it… Try to catch one on the road and not at its departure stop, because then you may need to wait a while. Take the Cable Car towards Nob Hill (/Union Square), which is the main shopping area of San Francisco. They have a stop at Union Square, with stores as Levi’s, Tiffany and co, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, etc. Want to visit the SF Abercrombie store? Then stay on the car and hop off at the next stop. Here you’ll find the Westfield San Francisco Centre, which includes a Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. BUT there’s also a more recent new shopping area: FILLMORE STREET.
I only discovered Fillmore Street after my shopping spree. This street has more petite stores with a selection of different brands. Besides a Marc by Marc Jacobs store and an Alice & Olivia store, there aren’t any famous stores in the area. In my opinion it’s easier to find a great fashionable piece over here, than in the Union Square area. Unfortunately time wasn’t on my side…
Before my departure in Belgium, my New York-based, but San Francisco-born friend Andrea had given me some things to do, but unfortunately I only made it to the Cheesecake Factory at Macy’s. The cake was impeccible, but the service.. unfortunately not so much. When asking for a table the waitress told us that we needed to wait for half an hour, while both the inside as the outside of the restaurant were almost empty! It’s probably to make it ‘more exclusive’, but I just didn’t have the patience. In stead I just bought a ‘Key Lime Cheesecake’ piece to take out. Eating it at Union Square in the sun was probably as delicious as on the 8th floor of Macy’s. So even if the service isn’t what it should be: TRY IT!
Though I had a great time visiting San Francisco, the city didn’t capture my heart. Is it the weather (it gets freezing and foggy in the evening)? Is it because of the hills? I have no idea! But my guess is that it just didn’t have the time to capture my heart. I was only in SF for two days, which is way to short to feel the SF vibe! I’ve only had the chance to visit the very touristic spots, which were btw very pretty and charming. The Painted Ladies are the most known example out of all the old Victorian Houses in San Francisco. Again, it was a climb up hill, but the houses and neighbourhood were worth every step of the way.
Depending on your departure point (on your way to the Painted Ladies), you may pass through the Civic Center (City Hall) which surprised me pleasantly. Also Lombard Street (steepest street of San Francisco), which can be very crowded, is worth a visit. The Financial District was quite similar to the one in NYC, with their high buildings, yet the area was smaller and the architecture was more modern.
Towards all tourists: ‘Avoid Pier 39!’. Yes, you do need to see the seals, but besides this wildlife the only thing Pier 39 has to offer is (fat-making) food, food, food. Visiting the Monterey Fisherman’s wharf is more rewarding than the SF one (more about this in the next post).
Even if SF didn’t capture my heart, I’m sure I’ll be here again one day. If only it was to see the Golden Gate Bridge without fog…