Welcome back for days 3 & 4 of Martina’s San Franciscan adventure. I’ve decided to lump Saturday and Sunday together because although we did things, I feel like I didn’t take enough pictures for two separate blog posts.
Saturday was a rough day for me. Being in the cold, wet air the night before and not feeling well to begin with was not ideal. Add on to that having to search for a backpack to replace mine that broke, I was not a happy camper. Our hotel was on the borderline of the Tenderloin neighborhood and Nob Hill. The Tenderloin is known for their homeless population. According to what we heard, it’s gotten better, but still not the nicest of areas. Nob Hill, on the other hand, is home to shopping. High end, luxury, I don’t even think we have one of those stores in New York shopping. We passed Yves Saint Laurent, a Tesla dealership, and Burberry on our way to the first H&M. They, of course, had no backpacks but told us to try the one in the mall. I wasn’t thrilled to be spending my precious tourist time in a mall, but necessity calls. We walked over to the mall and saw that they also had a Kate Spade, so things were brightening up. We found H&M and walked in, confident that I would find a simple backpack. Wasting no time, I strode up to the salesgirl and asked: “Do you have any backpacks?” To which I was greeted with a blank stare. “Ok, maybe ‘backpack’ is a regional word, like sneakers vs. tennis shoes. Let’s try again.” “you know”, I continued, “a bookbag?” *hand motions of God knows what, putting books in a bag, maybe?* “Oh, no, we don’t. Try the other store across the street.
Defeated, we walked out, trying to plan our next move. Again, I was done and ready for a nap. I cope well in all situations, obvs. Totes grounded and not at all dramatic. We walked around the mall for a bit and found a Kate Spade store. She had tons of cute things but nothing that I
wanted needed to bring home. Finally, we ended up in Nordstrom Rack, where thankfully, I found something that would work and my mood brightened a bit.
Our plan for the day was taking a tour in an authentic VW bus. I was stoked (oh, look at me using the California lingo!). I felt very much like a hippie in my gauzy shirt with the little tassels on the sleeves. I bought a flower crown at Claire’s, I was ready to go. Except that a gauzy shirt paired with denim shorts is not the outfit you wear in 59 degree weather. So, again, I’m underdressed. And before anyone wonders why I didn’t just shut up and buy a sweatshirt – I totally misjudged on shopping. There were places I thought I would have time to get back to, even if I went by myself, but I didn’t. Bitching and moaning got me through, always does.
Back to the tour
The buses were painted with famous San Francisco landmarks or people who lived there, like Robin Williams, Maya Angelou (who used to be a trolley driver! at 13!), Jimi Hendrix, to name a few. They also had shag carpeting and a manual transmission. It was so cool. They played 60’s music the whole ride and the tour guide was really knowledgeable about each neighborhood we drove through. My only complaint was that our tour left late (bus issues, no biggie) and because of that we didn’t/weren’t able to get out and take pictures or see things up close. When I booked the tour, I was under the impression that we were going to stop at to see the Golden Gate Bridge (the fog wasn’t so bad that day) and in the Haight-Ashbury, but we didn’t and I was a little bummed. I already wrote a review on TripAdvisor, as the tour guide asked, so don’t think I’m using my blog to bash them. The tour was excellent otherwise.
My favorite area was probably the Haight. That’s where the Summer of Love originated. It’s the 50th anniversary of that summer and I wish I was there now to see it being celebrated. I never thought of myself as a hippie or like I would have fit in better in the 60’s, but man, the Haight made me want to braid my hair, throw on some beads and bell bottoms, hop in a DeLorean and see what it was all about.
The Castro is filled with murals. There were alleyways filled with them. Again, we weren’t able to get out and I missed a lot of good ones, but I tried.
Living in San Francisco proper is extremely expensive. I don’t even mean $10 for two 20oz bottles of Diet Coke. I mean over $3,000 a month rent in some places for a one bedroom studio. A ONE BEDROOM STUDIO! One bedroom and no walls. At least in New York, $3,000 would get you a two bedroom in a building with an elevator. Maybe. In the suburbs, it’s a mortgage payment on a pretty big house (I think. I still live with my
The tour was supposed to take us down Lombard Street, which is the curviest street in
America. California. The world. It’s really curvy and well known. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed off to vehicle traffic, which happens often. The residents want to close it off to any and all kinds of traffic eventually, which is problematic because how would they be able to access their homes? and two, who would enforce it? I can see their point though and if asked, I’d probably sign the petition.
Since we weren’t able to drive down the block, and that was the main reason I wanted to go on this tour, I made it my mission to get back. When the tour ended, it left us right next to the trolley turnaround. We hopped on the back of the line since one of the trolley’s stops was Lombard Street. About an hour later, we got on the trolley and started up the hill.
When the trolleys get to the turnaround, they stop on this jumbo sized lazy Susan and the workers manually spin it. Here’s a video.
Lombard Street was about five blocks up so we weren’t on the trolley for long. It was cold and windy so no one really minded. We got off when they announced the stop only to find out that the street was now open to vehicular traffic. I swear I almost called the tour company to come and pick us up. Since the street was open with cars on it, we walked on what would be the sidewalk but was really a shallow, long set of stairs. We got to the bottom and, of course, I was trying to channel Ansel Adams and get the perfect shot, but after about 10, I had to just give up.
We walked from the base of Lombard Street to Fisherman’s Wharf. If the streets were flat, it wouldn’t be bad, but the walk was about 6 long, steep blocks of hill. It was kind of scary because after a while my legs were like Jello. It felt like they were ready to give out at any minute. But was it worth it? TOTALLY. So authentic.
We went to the Wharf because we wanted to have a nice, seafood dinner that night and we needed to pick a place. We decided on Alioto’s, a place that’s been there forever and had white tablecloths. #fancy. We quickly Uber-ed back to the hotel to freshen up but Saturday was the coldest day and I felt like absolute crap so I didn’t do much with myself. Needless to say, no pictures were taken.
Sunday we didn’t have much planned except for brunch, the PRIDE parade, Ghiradelli Square and a ghost tour at night. Ok, maybe that’s alot. We had brunch at Sweet Maple. I’m dreaming of my french toast. I rarely eat sweet things like pancakes or french toast for breakfast but I could eat this one at least 2 times a week.
After brunch, we made our way over to see the parade. It was a few blocks from our hotel and where we were watching, it wasn’t too crowded. When I got home, my father told me he heard that the San Francisco parade had over a million people in attendance but the NYC one had about 500,000. I was surprised because, in New York, a million people feels like two million. It definitely didn’t feel like a million people in San Francisco. take note, NYC.
After the parade, we went over to Ghiradelli Square because I was dying for a hot fudge sundae. I never got one, but I enjoyed looking around at all of the cute shops in the square. It also reminded me of many of my childhood vacations. Quaint. Chocolatey.
We kind of floated through until it was time to decide on dinner. Nicole was given a recommendation for a restaurant in Chinatown. House of Nanking is famous for their sesame chicken, so of course, I ordered noodles. Nicole got the chicken and both were delish.
When we were finished with dinner, we had time to kill so we walked to Union Square to meet up with our tour guide for the haunted tour. This tour and Saturday’s VW bus tour were the two I was most looking forward to. We met our guide, Momo, and immediately I wanted to take him home with me. His voice was so soothing, he was funny and also, in his spare time, a drag queen. He didn’t come dressed but I did notice lots of random glitter.
Momo took us to some notoriously haunted or really creepy places in the Union Square area. Since San Francisco is a relatively young city, it’s history wasn’t so much of a stretch. The only picture I took was of the lobby of the Westin Hotel, where Fatty Arbuckle may or may not have tried to molest a woman (definitely did) and ended up killing (smothering) her accidentally.
Nicole was a little wary of this tour so imagine mine and Jessica’s delight when Momo led us right into our hotel. It turns out that in that very spot, a very entrepreneurial (is that a word?) woman opened up a brothel. Our hotel was also right across the street from the spot where the Zodiac Killer picked up his last victim before he disappeared (Momo’s storytelling and dramatics scared the stuffing out of me with this one.) We were a few blocks away from where Jim Jones thought up and recruited people for Jonestown. And my personal favorite, the Pinecrest Diner murder.
When Momo was done giving us the chills we went back to the hotel, where I packed and finished my noodles in bed.
Sorry this is so long, my friends! Stay tuned for just a quick (maybe) recap of what I wish I got to do/see, what I recommend, etc.
See you soon!