i left my heart in san francisco.

San Francisco Travel Blog

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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.

i think that's why i like to travel alone so much of the time - when you are by yourself, you don't feel as much pressure to always be somewhere. 

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 got off at the embarcadero station, came above ground, and immediately fell in love with the view of the water in front of me. seattle could learn a thing or two from san francisco's waterfront design.

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.

  i don't remember how much it cost, but it was definately worth it.  the view of the city was awesome. 

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.

the next couple of pictures were all taken from the top of coit tower.
  "uh, i don't really know where i'm going myself, but thanks for thinking that i do!" (in a boston T station, i got asked directions by a couple who was from boston themselves!) i think that the reason for this is that i always try to pretend i know where i'm going, even when i don't.  i hate to carry my camera (i put it in my purse and take quick pictures when i don't think anyone's looking) and try not to walk around with my map in my hand.  maybe this is part pride and part instinct, since i don't want to make myself look like an obvious tourist.

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.

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golden gate park.
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