I was super excited to be back in San Francisco after my first visit last year. After checking into our hostel near Union Square, we took a bus to the eclectic Haight-Ashbury district for the afternoon. Haight Street has a very boho/hippy vibe to it (we may have been high from secondary marijuana inhalation by the time we left) but there are a lot of cute boutique and vintage shops and the suburban streets nearby are lined with gorgeous Victorian style houses.
That night it was pretty chilly (in fact it was chilly the whole time we were there) so we decided to stay in and order some food to be delivered. My brother found a Chicago style pizza joint online (we just couldn't wait until we actually got to Chicago) that also had some vegan options. By the time the pizza arrived it was about 10pm and boy were we in for a treat. We definitely over-ordered as the deep dish pizzas were absolutely massive and we ended up sharing the left-overs with other hostel guests. Eating that pizza was an experience I doubt any of us will forget. Thick pastry followed by a layer of toppings and cheese and the most generous amount of sauce (on top) I've ever seen. Shortly after we all collapsed into a food coma and slept soundly while dreaming about the experience we had just had. More deep dish pizza stories to come when I actually get to the Chicago part.
The next morning, while nursing our pizza hangovers, we headed to the Mission District, a neighbourhood originally inhabited by native American Indians and then later a large Spanish population. There is definitely a strong Spanish and Mexican influence today with multiple Tacquerias to choose from, alongside other cute stores selling books, retro furniture and gifts and some trendy bars. Next time I'd love to visit on a weekend evening.
Ben had done a bit of research on where to get the best Mexican while we were in the neighbourhood and he stumbled upon Tacqueria La Cumbre which was featured on the show Man vs Food. I believe Adam Richman tackled a 1kg burrito or something equally horrendous (and by that I mean delicious). I was pretty stoked with my choice which was a falafel burrito. Two amazing things rolled (literally) into one! After lunch and browsing the shops for a few hours we made a quick pitstop at Mission Delores Park to soak up some sun and rest our feet. The park is on a hill that overlooks the city and is a great spot for a bit of people watching.
That evening we rugged up and made our way to Fisherman's Wharf to catch the ferry to Alcatraz Island. I did the day-time tour on my last visit but was pretty excited to see it all at night. The night-time tour also includes some extras such as access to the old hospital (spooky) and a few different talks to choose from. It was a freezing windy night on the island and with less people around it was definitely a bit scary at times. We joined a talk on the one and only successful escape from Alcatraz which was really interesting. I always wonder what happened to those inmates as they were never found!
The next day we took a tram back down to the water and made a quick stop at the Ferry Building for lunch. The Ferry Building contains a heap of market stores selling artisan foods and a couple of cafes. We found our favourite coffee in America, Blue Bottle Coffee, which was a welcome surprise. We later discovered them in NYC too. We then picked up our transportation for the day - bikes - and tackled the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a very windy day and quite a challenge - especially those hills. This was one of my favourite things I did last time and it was just as fun second time around, even if at times I just wanted to get off my bike and sit on the ground out of sheer exhaustion. The only disappointment was the fog but by the time we got to the other side it had cleared.
Upon reaching the beautiful village of Sausilito on the other side of the bridge we were quite ravished and found a burger joint where I had one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. By this stage it was nice and sunny and we spent an hour or two laying in a park by the water while we waited for the ferry back to San Francisco.
We spent our final day in San Fran checking out some of the shops along Market Street, visiting a Ghiradelli cafe and taking another walk along the water and past AT&T Park where a baseball game was in full swing. This got Benny pretty excited to see the Yankees in NYC!
San Fran, you are wonderful (and I don't even mind your hills and cold weather that much)! Next - NYC :)