At the tale end of an epic week long road trip through California, we were left with just one full day to explore San Francisco. The average city break usually spans at least a weekend, so I thought it was incredible how much you can fit in in such a short space of time if you just hit the ground running. Here’s is how the perfect day panned out.
12pm – we got off to a flying start with a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and French toast washed down with an Irish coffee at Beuno Vista. This eatery overlooking the water with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge boasted character to the brim. It is here that in 1952, the Irish coffee was first introduced to an American audience.
Our appetites satisfied, we strolled leisurely through fishermans wharf. This area is…/ with the sun beating down (the weather was unusually good according to locals) we just took the time to absorb the atmosphere and appreciate the live music coming from every corner.
After oogling at all the boats docked in the marina, we squeezed in a quick glass of wine at Pier 33. Then we joined the masses queuing for the ferry to the infamous Alcatraz island. Wrap up for this – especially if you want to sit up top and take in the fresh sea air and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Arriving at Alcatraz, we were briefed by a singing tour guide. We chose to take the 45 minute audio tour – an excellent way to get a sense of what we were experiencing. The tour is guided by former prison guards, prisoners, and family members of the incarcerated. By listening to their stories, their anecdotes, their trials and tribulations – the gravity of your surroundings really hit home.
Back on board the ferry, naturally with a plastic cup of wine in hand. We made it back to the main land and decided to embark on the 50 minute walk to 2640 Steiner St, aka the house where the iconic Mrs Doubtfire movie was filmed.
After the steep trek up San Fran’s hilly streets, we made it to the picturesque and grand house. Make sure you bring a marker to write a tribute to the late Robin Williams on the pebbles outside as so many others have done, or carve your message into the tree branches.
A speedy Uber brought us back to Mission, as a friend told me if we didn’t make it to Dolores Park we would have “done San Fran wrong”. He was on the money. We grabbed a couple of take away salads and sandwiches at the hip Dolores Park Cafe and some local Omission craft beers to watch the sun go down. Between the hippies and down and outs dancing in harmony to Donna Summers and Santana, couples doing acrobats, friends playing football and drinking wine, strangers engaged in a game of chess and even a dancing baby – it was the perfect way to get a glimpse into what life on the West Coast is all about.
After freshening up back at our Pepto-bismol hued hostel, we began a bar crawl of Mission. The most fascinating thing about San Francisco is the diverse community of inhabitants that make it up – I’ve never been anywhere with such an eclectic bunch. Sure Berlin and Brooklyn have a rap for being hipster havens, but these city folks wrote the book on being original and alternative. First we stopped at Southpaw, a gastropub which brewed its own beer in the corner while customers chowed down on pulled pork and tater tots. Next we headed to Teeth, a bar with inflatable cubes instead of bar stools and headless mannequins of male torsos covered in glitter decorated the walls. After that, we went to Cease and Desist, a swanky cocktail bar with Daft Punk artwork on the walls, a mirror ball buffalo head mounted on the wall and retro arcade games lining the walls. Naturally, there was also a pop up stall offering vegan pizza to hungry punters. From here, we made our way to Zeitgeist – where signs forbid customers from using cell phones at the bar and where every leather clad biker in the city can be found hanging out on a Thursday night. This bar is regarded as a city institution, and with one look at the colossal sized beer garden with an abandoned bus, it’s not hard to see why.
Exhausted after walking the length and breadth of the city and a few too many tequila shots, we headed for a late night burrito joint where the offerings were so big there was no chance of eating it gracefully.
Of course there was a few tourist attractions we didn’t get time for – such as cycling over the golden gate and checking out hayton ashbury where the hippie movement originated, it only serves as a reason to go back.
I didn’t know what to expect from the city – I previously lived in San Diego and had visited LA, but there was an impalpable energy in San Francisco that I’ve never felt before. Everyone had a smile on their face and the customer service was impeccable as you got the sense that everyone was genuinely in love with their life. Colorful art work, colorful people and a colorful history – what more could you ask for?