Our week in San Francisco was incredible and we packed so much in, I’m therefore splitting my ‘what we did’ posts into parts so it doesn’t take you an age to read just the one!
I got to my hotel in the evening (CLB had checked in earlier as he was already in the USA) so there was just enough time for a walk around Japantown and a bite to eat at Ramen Yamadaya before hitting the hay and trying to eradicate the jet lag in one go!
My very kind body clock awoke me super early which meant we were able to get up and out sharpish, post a scrumptious breakfast @ Phlox Commons of course.
First things first and we pick up pre booked bikes (tip: online reservations = 20% off) from Blazing Saddles to spend our first proper day exploring the city of San Francisco. We’d already somewhat mapped out our route and knew we would go through Golden Gate Park and out along the coast before hitting the Golden Gate Bridge and having lunch in Sausalito.
The first stop after navigating from Union Square to the entrance of the park was the Japanese Tea Garden (tip: free entry before 10am Mon/Wed/Fri). I’d read a little about the tea garden during my trip research but nothing prepared me for how beautiful it was; from the pagodas to the blossom, and everything in between, mixed with the bright blue skies and the smell of spring all around which just added to the lovely atmosphere.
Next up was a cycle around the lake at Strawberry Hill before continuing on to the Dutch Windmill then exiting the park onto Ocean Beach and cycling up the hill and onto the coastal path (warning: pretty steep hill climbs from here on in!) beelining to the Golden Gate Bridge.
We made it to the bridge around lunchtime, so it was fairly busy with what appeared to be all the tourists in San Fran but it was totally worth it; riding over the bridge with clear skies the views were astonishing and you could see clearly right over to the financial district on the other side of the city.
On the other side we continued down the hill and into Sausalito for a spot of lunch; our very first American sandwich (yippee!) freshly made from Venice Gourmet washed down with a beer. We sat by the waterfront in the sunshine to eat, taking in the sites.
We decided to take the ferry back to the city which was an excellent choice as the views on route were awesome, and we even passed Alcatraz which got us super excited for that evening as we were booked on the night tour.
We just about managed to navigate our way back from the Ferry Terminal to Blazing Saddles in time to drop the bikes off, hotfoot it back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes before heading to Pier 33 for our Alcatraz tour. This is bucket list stuff for me as I’ve wanted to visited the prison for years (tip: book online months in advance if you want a good pick of dates and times). The trip starts with a boat ride before dividing off into three groups and being given an introductory talk before heading for the main cell block and picking up headphones for the audio tour which guides you around, with ex-inmates narrating the stories of their time inside.
The sun set whilst were were on the island which was pretty special, and despite the prison being extra creepy in the dark it was 100% worth it, I’d highly recommend the night tour!
Back to shore and it was time to grab a quick bite, it was late and we didn’t fancy a full meal so picked up a burger from In-N-Out instead; now I know why the Americans love them! And then it was home to bed for an early-ish start.
Next up in the San Fran series: a Napa Valley excursion!