San Francisco Travel

Though I will admit that my international travel experience is limited to say the least, I can say with certainty that I have been to my fair share of U.S. cities. My list includes the magnificent cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Orlando, Boston, and Las Vegas, just to name a few. Though I loved the shows of New York, the lights of Las Vegas, the music of New Orleans, the weather of Los Angeles, the architecture of Chicago, and the history of Boston, my favorite city trip by far was when I traveled with a friend of mine before my senior year in college to San Francisco, California. San Francisco travel is a delight from beginning to end.

I visited the beautiful and relaxed city of San Francisco in August of 2008 and could not have asked for a better vacation spot. Upon arrival, after discovering that the tram we took from the airport dropped us off nowhere near our hotel, we spent a long but rather enjoyable trek through the city center, dragging our luggage along with us. Though tiring, it was a wonderful way to take in the city.

Places to Visit

In the coming days, my friend and I visited Fisherman’s Wharf, where we enjoyed local calamari and the aquarium, and also found a small bakery we were able to tour, complete with samples at the end. We paid a little extra to “see” the Golden Gate bridge, though I have to admit we were rather disappointed that the fog was too thick for us to see anything but the base. But we explored the old army fort at the base of the bridge and enjoyed the history there as well. Though cold on the trolley ride while near the bridge’s base, we enjoyed some wonderful hot chocolate and made our way to warmer parts of the city with the tours including taking us through the winding streets of the nicer neighborhoods in San Francisco and beautiful forests, as well as many of the more historical parts of the city. We did a little bit of shopping, found the drummer featured in the film The Pursuit of Happiness, and took countless pictures. We found the lucius and green Alamo Square, where the opening sequence of Full House was filmed, and had a lot of fun at the zoo, after getting lost in a neighborhood near the west coast of the city. We also were able to visit Coit Tower, where we enjoyed a 360 degree view of the city lights after dark, and an insightful conversation with our elevator attendant.

At Lombard Street, America’s most crooked street, we were yelled at by some residence for sitting on their sidewalk, and also bought chocolate samples at Ghiradelli Square.

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Experiences

Our favorite part of the trip by far was eating at North Beach, which surprisingly enough is not on the beach. It is a part of the city of San Francisco that is comparable to Little Italy, with its authentic Italian speakers and, best of all, authentic Italian food. We found that the place that employed Francis Ford Coppola’s personal chef, which is located in North Beach, was closed for renovations, but we found a fabulous little place called Calzones that we revisited again and again. We, of course, ordered their calzones and enjoyed their pizza as well, all with a little bit of wine. Though it was chilly in the evenings, we were able to sit outside at this little hole in the wall under heat lamps, which provided just the right balance of warmth and coolness. From there, we were able to still take in the views of the city and people watch. We also had some gelato a few doors down and had pasta in another Italian restaurant another night. We ate at Mel’s Diner, which was the site of the filming of American Graffiti starring Ron Howard, and saw the old building on Alcatraz Island from a distance, though we missed out on the tour. We ate lunch at the world famous food chain In N’ Out Burgers one afternoon, and bought sunglasses and T-shirts. The weather was wonderful every single day we were there, the street vendors and street performers were well worth noticing (and taking pictures with!), and we loved the cultural tapestry we saw formed in San Francisco. On one bus we noticed we were able to count a minimum of five separate languages being spoken around us, including French, Italian, Japanese, English, and German (or so we guessed). It made us feel as though simply by being in the city we were able to take part in something so much bigger than ourselves.

English: Postcard picture of street scene in S...

Postcard picture of street scene in San Francisco, California, showing fountain, Palace Hotel and apparently the front entrance to the San Francisco Chronicle building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were also numerous statues, monuments and architecturally impressive buildings we loved to see and walk through. We spent a little time on the shore just enjoying being so near the ocean, and took a lot of pictures! Our hotel was plenty decent, we enjoyed the Olympics on TV in the evenings as we recounted our day, and enjoyed coffee and donuts in the mornings. We had fun picking out souvenirs to bring back to our friends and families, as well as a few to keep for ourselves. One of our favorite places to do this was in China Town, where there were literally thousands of cheap trinkets just waiting to come home with us. By the end of our memorable journey, we were able to not only say we had enjoyed our week in San Francisco, California, but were confident that we would return one day. Though I cannot say I have yet returned, I have often recommended it to friends and family looking to travel, and have listed it among the cities I would most enjoy moving to. I would certainly recommend a vacation to San Francisco for anyone who enjoys cultural diversity, nice weather, and lots of interesting sights to fill your days seeing! I am still sure I will be able to visit again one day, and continue to look forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in its full glory!

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