They say anticipation beforehand is one of the best parts of a trip. I subscribe to that somewhat, although I certainly enjoy the actual trip itself! But I had a lot of anticipation leading up to my San Francisco trip. San Francisco has been one of my favorite cities since I was a kid. In college and the first two or three years of living in MIami, I visited at least once a year. Unfortunately a plethora of weddings meant that I rarely visit the West Coast these days except for weddings, work, or the holidays (in Portland)… Well luckily I had a wedding in the Bay and would be returning to one of my favorite spots!
The wedding was in the Oakland hills on Saturday and my friends and I stayed at a hotel in Berkeley. Sunday was my first day in the actual city and I had plans with a college friend to hang out. She was back home in Marin County after spending three years living in Spain. We met at the Ferry Building and then just started to walk and see where we ended up. The walking exploration is my go-to on trips and San Francisco is one of the best cities for me to do that, because I know the city (relatively well) and there is a lot to see (especially a lot of cool neighborhoods, which is my favorite thing to explore).
We started walking along the Embarcadero. As this was my first day in the city, I had a lot of places I wanted to check off. Doing a lot of hills in one trip seemed ambitious, so I thought we’d maybe stick more to the flat area along the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina, etc. As we got closer to the Coit Tower I thought about how it had been a few trips since I had last been up there. That seemed like a good place for one “hill exploration” and my friend agreed.
We found one of the stairs that takes you up the hill and began our climb. It was relatively nice weather for a fall day in San Francisco, but it seemed like San Francisco’s mercurial weather was on display the most during our climb. I had a shed my sweatshirt for most of the climb up as the sun was shining (plus it was a good workout), but then had to put it back on up top when the clouds came. It’s not the easiest climb when you live someplace flat like Miami, but it wasn’t insane. I certainly got a good workout for the day. I enjoyed seeing some of the homes on Telegraph Hill and especially the little gardens that exist along the stairs and walking paths.
Up top we walked around the Coit Tower and took in the views from the different directions. We walked inside the Tower to go to the bathroom and check out the murals inside, but didn’t head to the top (we had both been before and there was a long line). The murals reminded me of the Public Works of Art Project during the Great Depression/New Deal, which is actually when they were commissioned. Whether I subconsciously remembered that from an earlier visit or the murals just had a distinct look similar to maybe other PWAP projects I am not sure. They certainly depict that time period and are fascinating to walk around and look at (when the line for the elevator isn’t too long).
After Coit we enjoyed walking downhill for a bit through the rest of the Telegraph Hill before ending up on flat land in North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. I had done all the touristy stuff at Fisherman’s Wharf as a kid and it was quite crowded, so we walked quickly through on our way west. We did detour slightly to go by Ghiradelli Square. As a kid this was one of my favorite places in the city (along with Nob Hill). One of my earliest visits I was a little too young to have a lot of distinct memories, but I remember being in awe of Ghiradelli Square. I think I remember more of a “factory” for Ghiradelli in my memories. On return visits when I was more high-school age it was more of a restaurant (I probably just had a big imagination as a little kid), but I still enjoyed the visits. These days ice cream sundaes don’t capture my attention as much, but I still like the area for the nostalgia (it feels more calm and less touristy- although still touristy- than Fisherman’s Wharf).
We made our way through Fort Mason on our way to the Marina. We walked along Marina Boulevard and saw some of my favorite houses in the city (besides the mansions in Pacific Heights) before deciding to take a break and get some water/food. We headed towards the shops on Chestnut Street and ate a snack at Super Duper Burgers, where I had been before.
At this point it was getting towards dinner time and I had plans with the friend I was staying with, plus the friend I was with had dinner plans with her brother. We decided to wrap up our trip at the Palace of Fine Arts. The Palace is one of my favorite places in the city. I’ve never lost my awe and fascination as a kid about this place. Just the size and detail and out-of-worldness makes an imprint on you. Partially it reminds me of the Palace from Naboo in Stars Wars Episode I (many people take issue with that movie, but I think the scenery and graphics are pretty awesome). I’ve also visited when it’s very very foggy (“foggy in San Francisco really?” you must be saying. I’m sure you never would have guessed!) and seeing the Palace partially covered in fog and mist had also endeared it to me as one of the coolest places in the city. We walked around and I took lots of pictures and the visit did not diminish my love of the Palace at all!
After that I left my friend and headed back to my friend’s in Alamo Square (I got some cliche, but still beautiful, pics of the Painted Ladies). It was a great first day in the city and we covered A LOT of ground. I checked a number of neighborhoods off my list and hung out with a great friend from college. Check out pics from the urban hike in the rest of the photo blog.