i left my heart in san francisco.
San Francisco Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
although every time i go to california, i am a little bit worried about THE big earthquake happening, i still love this city. although i have been to san francisco before, i have never really had a chance to spend time there; the city has always served as a gateway to somewhere else, such as Yosemite, and the one time i did stay in San Francisco for a job interview, I didn't really venture beyond the area around Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf. i never really feel like i have gotten to know an area until i wander around totally lost, having no idea how to read my map. just when i think i'll never find my way back to my hotel, i notice an interesting restaraunt, store or street.
since the band i was going to see was playing at the paramount theatre in oakland, i decided to stay there. (not to mention, flying to the oakland airport was much cheaper than flying to SFO). luckily, my hotel was three blocks from a BART station (i will mention here that, although i usually do not feel unsafe walking by myself, i did feel a little uneasy walking the 9 blocks from the paramount to my hotel at 11 at night). taking the BART was my first adventure in the city. i love taking public transportation, and in strange places, it can be both intimidating and freeing. i planned my routes out online in advance, but, once you get there, it is always a little bit different than your paper says it should be.
i had already planned on going to the north beach neighborhood, because i wanted to see the views from coit tower and shop at city lights bookstore. before i left home, i mapped out bus routes, but since it was such a gorgeous day and i love to walk, i decided to walk there. yes, it was a very long walk - and yes, most of it was uphill - but it was also one of the favorite memories of my weekend. i walked through chinatown - making a mental note to go back there for lunch - and found myself uncomfortably in the middle of a pro-chinese rally.
north beach is an italian neighborhood, and i kind of wish that i had gone there later in the day instead of in the morning. i love city restaraunts that have big windows open to the sidewalk. i passed those places and imagined myself eating inside one of them. after some twists and turns, i was very proud of myself for finding city lights bookstore. it wasn't open, so i decided to continue walking and try to find my way to coit tower, which, according to the guidebook i got from the library, has awesome views of the city. on my way, i stopped in at an italian market to buy a bottle of water; i only mention this because the store had pigs hanging in the window and it reminded me of a store in florence, italy.
i got to coit tower (again, very proud that i found my way all by myself!) and paid to go to the top.
walking back down the hill to the bookstore, i remember stepping into the middle of the street to get a really cool view of the windy part of lombard street. i love finally seeing things in person that i have only seen on television.
after shopping at city lights, i stopped at a little cafe for some coffee before my long walk back downtown.
after eating lunch in china town, i followed my plan to take the train to golden gate park. i had trouble figuring out which train to get on, but after studying my map and asking for help, i was on my way. i always get a kick out of it when tourists mistake me for a local, and ask me for directions.
golden gate park is huge! i'm sure it's no surprise to say that i got lost. i wanted to find the japanese garden, and walked around for about an hour before i did. but, true to form, i had a great time just wandering around.
after that, i took the train back towards downtown but got off near the haight-ashbury district - i wanted to find ameoba records, and, after a few wrong turns, i finally did. sometimes when i travel, it seems like the journey to a destination is the entire point. once i finally got to the record store, i shopped a bit, and then started on my way back to oakland for the concert.
i had a few hours the next day before i had to be at the airport, so i again took the BART to san francisco and got off at the embarcadero station. this time, i went down to the ferry building and had fun wandering around and watching the sunday morning crowd. i went to the modern art museum, where there was a great photography exhibit that i spent two hours browsing. i spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown - shopping, stopping at cafes, watching people.
then, all too soon, it was time to return to "real" life.