The big 3-0: Day twenty one – San Francisco begins!

Welcome back my dear readers! We’re in to the final third of this trip which has seemed a little never-ending haha. I’ll be quite pleased to actually write about somewhere other than the USA but I’m glad you’re still enjoying this series!

Anyway, those of you following along will know this was a 30 day trip in the summer of 2018 which coincided with my 30th birthday. On day 20 myself and Haleigh had driven down from Crescent City and finally arrived in San Francisco!

Much of this trip was flexible but San Francisco was somewhere that I was determined to visit on this trip so I was excited to get our first proper glimpse of it. We’d arrived the previous night but not really seen anything beyond the neighbourhood we were staying in.

We had a pretty relaxed start to our morning which is definitely one of the perks to staying in an AirBnB. Our host had kindly left out some sort of home-made bread for us to enjoy before we set off for the day.

We were staying a little outside of the central area of San Francisco but the public transport in the city is pretty good so that wasn’t a problem. Our nearest BART (San Fran’s subway system) station was Balboa Park so we made the walk over to the stop and got ourselves a couple of tickets to get us in to the heart of the city.

Pretty much all Americans drive so Haleigh hadn’t previously used any underground train network. I think it’s easy to get a little frazzled by some of the subway systems around the world and I’d love to say I helped Haleigh master San Francisco’s in preparation of one day tackling London’s famous tube system.

BartMap

However the reality is San Francisco’s is probably the easiest subway system I’ve come across on my travels so didn’t require the greatest mind or navigational skills to get around. Unless you’re leaving the San Francisco area, it really doesn’t matter which train or line you jump on. All trains go to the same stops making it particularly easy to avoid getting lost.

We traveled as far as ‘Powell Street’ which takes you in to the heart of the city. The reason we’d opted for Powell Street is because it’s home to San Francisco’s visitor centre and we thought we’d pop in for some recommendations, pick up some 72 hour travelcards and maybe a map to help get our bearings with where things were in the city.

After picking up our travelcards we had a wander around Powell and Market St which is a pretty busy area, popped in a few of the shops in the area before heading on over to the street car which would take us to Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Fran Streetcar
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Unfortunately the street car is one of the San Francisco checklist items to do on a first trip and visiting in mid August meant every other tourist in San Francisco had the same idea. The queue was so long that we scrapped that plan for today and instead walked over to the nearest tram stop which would get us over to the pier much quicker.

A short while later we’d arrived at ‘Pier 39’ and were ready to see what all the fuss was about. It was pretty close to lunchtime by the time we’d arrived at the pier and it was inevitably busy. Admittedly this is probably one of San Francisco’s biggest tourist hotspots but in all honesty, this just seemed to be how San Francisco was.

With the exception of the BART which was woefully under-used, it was just busy wherever you went. Hordes of tourists, overcrowded transport leading to long queues, a million cars on the road – it was unavoidable!

That said, we wanted to temporarily avoid it haha. Before tackling pier 39 we decided we’d grab lunch and although the area had a huge range of food options, conveniently right where we’d stopped was San Fran’s very own Hard Rock Cafe!

HRC San Fran
Hard Rock Cafe, San Francisco

Long time readers will know I enjoy visiting the HRC’s around the world and this happened to be in the perfect location to tempt me! All that was left for me to do was persuade Haleigh it was a good idea, who’d yet to visit a HRC herself.

In contrast this would be my 19th HRC and the second of this trip after finding time to visit Chicago’s too! Fortunately it took little persuasion skills and Haleigh was more than happy to have lunch there!

Following on from lunch we wandered down to the pier and admired the views stretching over the bay and over to Alcatraz. It was a beautifully sunny day so we looked to see what boat tours they had on offer and were enticed by a tour for $15 which took us out on the water and a little closer to some of San Fran’s best sights.

It was a fun excursion. Our captain told us a few interesting stories whilst we passed by the famous seals of the pier and then got a closer look at Alcatraz, plus some cool views of the San Francisco skyline behind us.

San Fran Seals
The seals of San Francisco

The boat dropped us back at Pier 39 and we strolled among the busy crowds, popping in and out of shops along the way. It’s definitely a bit of a tourist trap but I feel like you could spend a good chunk of time there and still keep yourself amused. Haleigh ended up buying some fudge to take back to Washington, whilst I settled for nothing more than some window shopping.

The shops and promenade seemed a little less crowded and hectic on the upper deck so we headed up the stairs for a look around up there, which also provided an opportunity to get some nicer photos.

Pier 39
Pier 39, San Francisco

Perhaps going up there was my fateful mistake! We wandered along enjoying the atmosphere below us whilst basking in the gorgeous weather when I suddenly felt a small dropping hit me..

“Please be rain!”

Rain? I looked up and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – just sunshine and bright blue skies.

Nevertheless whatever had dropped was on top of my head so I needed Haleigh to confirm my fears and sadly she did. Some bloody bird had crapped on me! I’d been dreaming of visiting this city forever and on my first full day in this city I get crapped on!

I don’t know how regularly this happens for the rest of you but I’ve been quite lucky in that I can only remember experiencing this on one other occasion – down in Florida!

Both times in the USA? Really!? Those pesky American birds!

So after a quick detour via the public restrooms, we were back on the move and wandered down towards Fisherman’s Wharf which was equally busy. Rather than spending too much time there among the crowds we marched on towards Ghiradelli Square which Haleigh was keen to visit.

There was a much more relaxed vibe here than there had been at Pier 39 / Fisherman’s Wharf. There was still a bit of a buzz in the air of course with people mingling and chatting away, whilst others played a round of ‘Cornhole’ but it was far less hectic and a much more enjoyable place to wander and look around.

Moving away from Ghiradelli Square we meandered down to the beach and just sat and admired the view for a while. It was a perfect spot and I think if I lived in San Francisco I’d frequent this part of the city on many occasions. I could have stayed there for hours I reckon but time was flying by.

IMAG1925
Prime suspect?

IMAG1928

You could easily spend an entire day in the pier 39 area I reckon if you were to combine it with other attractions and excursions. Having had a good taste of things in San Francisco we tried our luck again with the street car. There was a long queue again but we were feeling much less rushed heading back to our AirBnB and it was something we wanted to experience at least once in San Francisco.

Whether you have the patience for the queue is an individual choice I suppose but I’m really glad we did it. I think it’s worth traveling on at least once and had it not been for such long queues I’m sure we’d have rode it more frequently throughout our trip. It’s a great way to see the city as you travel up and down San Francisco’s hilly streets.

IMAG1930

Soon enough we were back at Powell Street and jumped back on the BART in direction of our AirBnB. We relaxed for a bit and then freshened up before deciding what to do with our evening.

We contemplated going back in to down town San Francisco and finding something fun to do. However in the end we decided to stay local and grabbed dinner at a bar just around the corner from our AirBnB.

The upside to not staying in a touristy area was that it felt like we were probably the only out-of-towners in the place with everyone else seeming local and friendly with eachother and in weekend mode given it was a Friday evening.

We took two seats at the bar and ordered ourselves a burger each, accompanied with some drinks which went down equally well. In addition to the good food and good beer, there was also a live band playing which provided the perfect entertainment for the evening.

It was a really nice way to round off our first full day in San Francisco. Aside from the unfortunate bird incident it had been a pretty positive introduction to this wonderful city.

After a couple of drinks we called it a night and headed back to our AirBnB, excited to explore again tomorrow. Stay tuned for more on that!

Jason

P.S – if you want to catch up on previous posts from this trip you can do so below!
Day one – Chicago bound
Day two – exploring Chicago
Day three – Minneapolis
Day four – Why I visited Minneapolis!
Day five – New Orleans!
Day six – The real New Orleans!
Day seven – Goodbye New Orleans, Hello Washington
Day eight – Exploring Poulsbo!
Day nine – Wedding day!
Day ten – To Portland!
Day eleven – the actual 3-0!
Day twelve – Oregon City and Portland
Day thirteen – Walla Walla bound!
Day fourteen – Walla Walla
Day fifteen – The family BBQ!
Day sixteen – the Vegas finale!
Day seventeen – Back to Oregon!
Day eighteen – Exploring Oregon’s coast!
Day nineteen – California pit stop!
Day twenty – San Francisco bound!

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jasonlikestotravel

I'm Jason and from a little place in England. Here to just talk about my various adventures. Hopefully you find some inspiration or just enjoy hearing my stories :)

33 thoughts on “The big 3-0: Day twenty one – San Francisco begins!”

    1. Haha, a few people mentioned that to me around that time but I don’t remember feeling particularly lucky for that to have happened!

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  1. Well Jason, you’ve served up yet another location high on my bucket list. You know, some say getting crapped on by a bird is a sign of good luck, and it certainly looks like your San Fran trip got off to a good start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonderful city, hope you get the chance to visit soon!
      Yes, a few pointed that out to me at the time but I’ve no idea why it’s considered lucky. I certainly didn’t feel lucky when it happened! Haha

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I very much enjoyed your description of your day in San Francisco. Doing touristy stuff with large crowds can be taxing but you had a great weather and a great attitude which is the main thing. By the way, the only time I got crapped on by a bird was in Trafalgar Square. It was back in the ’90s. Fortunately I had on a hat. The pigeon really nailed me and the hat was ruined. Stuff happens as they say. 😊 John

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! That’s such a shame about the hat, guess it’s good that it missed you otherwise though πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad it brought back some good memories! πŸ™‚

      We passed Sausalito on the way in to San Francisco but didn’t see it otherwise. Maybe next time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t been to San Francisco yet, but your picture tell me that there’s really no place like the City and County of San Francisco. From the world famous museums, amazing local art, and the super popular sea lions, it’s a treasure trove for visitors. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonderful place to visit. Definitely got the best of city life and a few natural places to enjoy too πŸ™‚
      Hope you’re well and have a good day too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been decades since I’ve been in San Francisco. I so enjoyed your tour around town! Don’t think of the bird incident as a bad omen, it’s just an opportunity to add a funny story to your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha definitely an amusing story to add, even if it’s on my expense. Glad you enjoyed the post, I imagine it’s changed a bit since you last visited but some things are probably still the same πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I’ve heard that a lot since this incident.
      The Golden Gate Bridge is spectacular, definitely nice to have seen that in the flesh! πŸ™‚

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  5. This car-crazy American always appreciates having an underground-savvy, red-blooded Englishman with her when she attempts public transportation anywhere in the world. He was particularly helpful on the Budapest underground.

    As for the bird bomb, wait just one second! I had that same experience… but in Belgium! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, definitely something we’re more accustomed to using in Europe. I don’t think I used Budapest’s more than a couple of times because I walked everywhere but San Francisco’s you’d find really easy I’m sure πŸ™‚

      Haha, an unwanted memory but I guess we all have at least one story of it happening!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely!
      Yeah, the tourists were a little excessive. It didn’t help that I visited in August of course. The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz were definitely highlights for me too. I’d heard mixed reaction about the latter so was really pleased that it didn’t disappoint.

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  6. I think those American birds have it in for you. Twice now. It was probably that one on the beach, I could see a sly smile on its face.

    I’m glad you did the street car, I would too. It’s the reason we go to places like this. No need to look back with regret then. Except with the bird.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha right? That bird on the beach was definitely a prime suspect!

      Definitely, got to do these things when you get the opportunity. I’d like to think I’ll get back to San Francisco at some point but there’s no guarantee. Thanks for reading, I would have replied sooner but your comment got lost within the spam for some reason!

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  7. Well, I’m not the only one saying that getting crapped by a bird seems “goodluck”! It’s nice moving around SFO. It is touristy but at least once in our life! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes, a strange form of “good luck” if you ask me but who knows how the universe works!
      Definitely a touristy experience but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

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    1. Yeah, I imagine it was probably a little less busy when you went. I’m glad you loved it too though. It’s a wonderful city πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much! I’m doing good, I hope you’re doing well too?

      I’ll give the post a read shortly and follow up with my own response at some point πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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