A Second Day in San Francisco
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Continued from previous entry...
Saturday morning I headed to Caffe Trieste on Vallejo Street in North Beach (an Italian neighborhood) on the advice of a local resident. Caffe Trieste has fantastic (and very strong) coffees as well as excellent pastries. This cafe seems to be undiscovered by the guidebooks and is a great place to have a coffee. The cafe was packed with locals, and I saw very few tourists. I actually liked it so much I went twice. It's now on my list to visit anytime I'm in San Francisco.
From Caffe Trieste, I walked to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Pier 39 is filled with sea lions sunning themselves. No one knows why the they're at Pier 39 but apparently, they've been coming for years.
As far as Fisherman's Wharf, if you are not taking the boat to Alcatraz (advance reservations are required) or if you do not want to see the sea lions, I wouldn't budget a lot of time for Fisherman's Wharf. I find it to be a tourist trap with lots of tacky tourist shops and buildings blocking the beautiful bay view.
I visited the Cable Car Museum near Nob Hill, which is definitely worth a look. Apparently, San Francisco originally had eight cable car lines and the exhibits had interesting detail on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The city suffered horrific devastation from the earthquake and subsequent fire in 1906. Some of the photos were very sad.
I also headed to Lombard Street, which is a lot of fun.
North Beach is a great neighborhood to explore for an afternoon and it's one of my favorite areas of San Francisco. There are pizza shops and Italian restaurants everywhere. One park had an art festival which was a lot of fun. Several of the street poles in North Beach are decorated with the colors of the Italian flag.
Next door to North Beach is Chinatown where there are all sorts of shops to explore. I enjoyed some of the tea houses (there is a great one on Grant near Pacific) and be sure to stop off at Li Po for a cold Tsingtao beer. Li Po is a bar on Grant and looks almost like a cave from the outside. If you have the chance, try to have dinner in Chinatown as well.
I ended the day browsing some shops in Union Square. If you are a shopper, Union Square is a "shopper's paradise". Anything and everything seems to be available. It is definitely a "shop till you drop" destination.
Finally, on the way back to my hotel, I finished the day trying a San Francisco ice cream specialty called "It's It", which is available at most convenience stores.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities and a fantastic place to visit. The locals are friendly and helpful, living in a flat city like Houston I love the hills and there is so much to do. The beautiful scenery, architecture and cable cars add character to a unique city.