If you’re looking for night life, shopping, fun touristy things, lovely weather and good food – San Francisco is the spot.
When I was deciding where in America I should move to, San Francisco was a strong contender. Only for my gut said ‘ Go to Oregon Zita!’, I would have ended up down there. I’m glad to know now that it still wouldn’t have been a wrong decision. This past August I was lucky enough to visit for two very different, very special occasions with two awesome sets of company. Full disclosure, I’ve no idea how this post is going to come out as I’m 3 months behind on it (actually to the day nearly lol!) and I’m dredging up a lot from my old lady memory bank. I’m really wheeling back the time machine wheels for this one haha!
Sleeping in the city
On the 17th of August, I flew down to this exciting city a day before himself (AKA Korey). Since I didn’t have a handy $200 lying around, I booked in to the HI San Francisco City Center Hostel for the night. It’s right down there in the Bay area and about a 15 minute walk to Union Square. The place itself was really cool but I think my body has forgotten what hostel beds were like haha! All in all, it has an awesome, friendly atmosphere, great staff with breakfast included in the morning. It’s a backpackers hostel with a lot of young ones traveling through, exploring the city. The hostel has a lot of different rooms and areas all decked out with interesting furnishing and I could imagine it would be good craic to come stay when you’re out looking to meet new people on your travels.
The following morning, I took myself and my rolly bag out for a bit of shopping before Korey arrived. For the weekend, we stayed at the Marriott Marquis. It was goooorrrgggeeeous! He had booked us in for a fab suite with a dozen roses waiting on the table inside (if he reads this I’ll be killed haha!). After freshening up a bit, we (of course) went upstairs to check out the View Lounge. The view is pretty awesome up there and we were able to relax over some wine while we caught up and started to figure out what to do for dinner.
I can hand on heart recommend going to Scalas. This is an Italian French cuisine bistro just over there on Powell Street. It’s literally just an 8 minute walk from the Marquis, but our lazy arses got an Uber not thinking it was so close. Definitely book ahead (thankfully we were squeezed in for a reservation earlier on in the evening) because this place is busy. There are vegan options (limited though), so I opted for the pasta and marinara dish, which was delicious (the sauce was incredible!). Korey was in heaven with his (woops I can’t remember!) and the wine was perfect. I forgot to mention, that this was our 1 year anniversary (whhhaaatt, how did that happen?!) and this could not have been the perfect spot to celebrate.
Get on your bike
On Saturday, after grabbing some breakfast at the hotel, we went out and rented our bikes for the day. I’ve always wanted to cycle around the city and of course go over the Golden Gate Bridge. Korey thought I was a bit mental wearing black ballet pumps, a red pinstriped balloon winged top and jeans going out for the day. But I’ve always envisioned myself looking somewhat put together doing this cycle! I am definitely not someone you would ask for fashion advice and it was absolutely not appropriate attire but I’ll get to that a little bit later…
There are sooo many place to rent bikes from and they all seem to have the same name ‘Golden Gate Cycles’! The one we went with was called Golden Gate Rides LLC. There is no booking required, just drop in, sign off on the bike and away you go. The guys in there were super casual, made everything easy and gave a great service.
Anyhow, away we went then on the bicycles, himself leading. I personally hadn’t rode a bike in about 6 years, never mind on the streets of a city, so I was quite content peddling behind him. Our first stop was down by Fishermans Wharf for Korey to try out Franciscan Crab. Two big thumbs up for anyone who’s in to crab apparantly! I just had the coffee so I don’t have any personal input. 🙂 The experience in the places itself was fun though, the staff were great, the view was sweet and there are so many odd nooks and crannies, you can very easily get side tracked!
From here, we cycled through Fishermans Wharf towards the bridge. Although there were people and cars everywhere, it was actually such an enjoyable ride. The atmosphere and craic that was going on reminded me so much of Salthill in Galway during the summers! It gave an aul tug on the heart strings but it was good to know that that type of seaside, fun vibe isn’t ever too far away.
After navigating through the crowds, a couple of parks and up a few steep hills, we made it to the bridge. I, like an eejit, decided to put on the lightest top I had (reference to three paragraphs ago!) and slightly regretted it immediately once we started going over the Golden Gate. Oh my God it was windy! Thankfully, Korey knows me by now and had packed a windbreaker in his bag. 🙂 I absolutely loved the ride though. The views were gorgeous, the day was so clear and with the two of us peddling like hell, we made it over in no time. Once on the other side, I drove him crazy taking selfies and pictures but we had fun taking in the San Fran skyline.
We dropped the bikes back at 6 and got an Uber back to Pier 33. Now, although the Golden Gate Bridge was REALLY high on my ‘I MUST DO THIS IN SAN FRAN’ list, Alcatraz was number 1. For whatever reason, I’ve always had a massive fascination with the place and have wanted to explore it and learn more. We booked our tickets through a 3rd party site (City Info Experts) who keep an eye out for cancellations on the actual Alcatraz tours website. I put in the request for our day at the beginning of May and 2 weeks later, thankfully we had our spot reserved! I’m not sure I want to go as far and say I’d recommend booking your tickets this way but it’s a great plan B since tickets for the prison generally sell out 6 months in advance. There is a $10 fee per ticket though if they are able to secure a reservation for you.
Once you pick up your tickets, you wait in the queue to board the ferry. It’s first come, first serve on seating and no alcohol on board. Alcatraz is eerie and gloomy with a chilly atmosphere. Everything you’d expect from an abandoned federal prison. What an interesting time though! Once you’re over on the island, you’re given a brief introduction by a rep and then led to pick up your headset. The tour is done through audio which is awesome. It gave us plenty of time to really explore the cells, creepy corners and walls destroyed with bullet holes! I’d say and hour and a half would be enough time to put away on the island and to do the night tour. It leaves the pier at 6:30pm and departs Alcatraz at 8:30 (last boat). I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but I would make it a point to put on your San Fran wish list.
Take me out to the ball game
Sunday was our last day but we made the most of it. I’d never been to a baseball game before so Korey got us some tickets (only $15 each I think?!)to go see the Phillies vs the Giants. I was so excited! We kicked it off with some nibbles and drinks at the bar across the street from the AT&T park before we went in. It was everything I thought it would be! With the beer, the hotdogs (nearly broke my veganess on that one!), the roaring and the atmosphere – it was brilliant! We had INSANE seats overlooking the ocean, right above home plate. Later, towards the end of the game, we snuck down – legit – right behind the home plate – and caught the last few minutes up close. I really enjoy baseball. People give it such a rap because it’s a ‘slow’ sport but from my own small experience on the field, I have a massive respect for the players. Next year I’m definitely going to try and catch a few more games in cities I visit!
Nothing but chocolate
We had a few hours to kill before our flights so we Uber’d out to Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli is famous for their chocolate out here and they’ve a whole square (I bet you couldn’t guess from the name :P) dedicated to their, chocolates, ice-cream and more. It was fun wandering around and it smelt like heaven on earth so if you’ve even half a sweet tooth, this place will cure ya.
That’s a rap
Well, I’ve absolutely written too much but it was such a fun few days spent in great company. The weekend flew by and if I was to go back again, I wouldn’t do a thing differently. I thought I’d be able to write up about my second trip out here two weeks later but there will have to be a San Francisco Part 2! So stay tuned for the next post – God knows when it’ll come out though with my consistency haha!