January 18th, 2014
Today was an excellent day. We were super duper organized, thanks to our wonderful tour guide and friend Erica, who also provided us with many a fact throughout the day. For instance, ….oh dear…..it is late and the facts seem to have the flown the coop of my mind. Oh! San Francisco has 7 micro-climates! Tada!
Learning aside, we set out from the house nice and early, and stocked up on coffee at the super cute coffee shop just down the street from Erica’s house. We took so-called BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) downtown to Powell St, where we waited a short while to ride a trolley! It was most exciting. When the trolley gets to the end of the route, it stops and gets pushed around in a circle to be turned around, manually. Very cool!
It costs 6 dollars per trip to ride the trolley. We got the standing section, where you ride along the outside, so it felt very authentically SF.
We hopped off near Chinatown, and toured through there. It feels, sounds, and smells just like China pretty much. We made our way through the throngs of Saturday morning shoppers, enjoying the sights and nostalgia of being in Asia, as well as some awesome views of the city.
Once through Chinatown, we ended up in North Beach area of town, where we decided we had done enough walking to earn lunch. Our awesome amigo Erica directed us to Giordano Bros, an awesome sandwich place, home of the Pittsburgh style All-In-One sandwich. This essentially means, provolone cheese, vinegary slaw, and fries on delicious bread (see website for photo). Basically, to die for, and super reasonably priced. To top off lunch, we stopped for gelato and some greeting card shopping in this super cute store called Lola (maybe. It is just up the street from Giordano Bros).
With that out of the way, we went by Lombard Street, which is known for its wiggly nature, and then down to Ghirardelli Square, where the chocolate factory is. We were remarkably restrained there! Erica took us to this super cool old wharf building, called Musée Méchanique, which now houses a multitude of old carnival games that cost 25-50 cents apiece. I tested my strength and found it to be that of a little man, which is stronger than a pensioner and a girl, so I suppose that is something to be proud of!
A quick stop at Pier 39 to see the sea-lebrities, aka the resident Sea Lions, and do a bit of souvenir shopping, and we made our way to Pier 33 to catch our tour to Alcatraz. Ok, so essentially, you can google Alcatraz yourselves to read about its history (there is A LOT!), so in terms of what we actually did there, the tour was great. You do the audio tour by yourself, which is well-narrated and then they offer various talks throughout the day on top of that. The park rangers were very interesting and well spoken, and clearly passionate about their work! Overall, I would rate it as a very informative and interesting experience. Especially since we went at sundown and were treated to the best view of both bridges and the city at sunset!
I mean, does it get any prettier!!
So, to end off our evening, we tried the must-eat, the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from the Fisherman’s Wharf, then headed to the Ferry Building to catch BART to the Mission District to have dinner at La Cumbre, which is an AWESOME burrito place, home of the quote unquote Mission-style burrito. Basically, it was SO GOOD, could NOT finish it all it was so large and a really reasonable price. They also have a huge variety of homemade salsas to dip your chips or burrito in. YUM!