Written August 12, 2015
Being reunited with my family in Northern California is a blessing beyond words. I’ve missed the bonding with my parents and two younger brothers–even the bickering and daily frustrations that come with spending a great deal of time together. Since moving to Florida, it’s been difficult to be so many miles away from my family as they’ve always been my #1 priority. Therefore, I was stoked for our reunion and adventure to San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Yosemite National Park.
In our first day of San Francisco exploration, we tackled many areas. Since we have a brief trip in this wonderful section of California, our itinerary is tight.
We parked our car at Pier 33 in the Waterfront area of San Francisco with intention to walk to Lombard Street, but the world’s most crooked street proven to be too far for a journey by foot. Instead, we stumbled upon a sign stating “Stairs to Coit Tower,” which is a tourist must-see in San Fran. We decided to begin the climb, not knowing how far we would go. Along the way, beautiful flowers and gardens lined the steep stairs.
“How much further?” was a question we continued to ask as we barely saw the top of the firehose-looking tower. After a myriad of flights of stairs, sweat, and burning quads, we arrived at the tower to view San Francisco from a distance. We did not wait to take the elevator to the top as it would have been >1 hour and we had more to see and do. It was explained to us (unnecessarily via diagram) that 8 people go up at a time and 34 people can fit on the observation tower. We were able to visualize the Golden Gate bridge and the expansive city of San Francisco from overlooks surrounding the tower.
We boarded the 34 Bus down to Pier 39, and wandered around for some time with Buena Vista Café destination in mind for lunch. The bubbles from a kite shop created a jovial scene, which was complemented by fresh crab smells, fisherman boats, and nautical shops. Buena Vista Café proved to be a great find with delicious food (EAT THE CRAB CAKES) featuring San Francisco sourdough. It is also known for its Irish coffee, and claims to serve >2,000/day.
Alcatraz Island was our next destination, which we booked a few months ago for a daytime tour (night tour was already sold out). I recommend you book it ahead of time if you intend to travel here as the next tour available was August 30th (WHAT??). The slogan of this island? “Alcatraz: It’s more than just a prison.” I understand there is intention to make the island into a seabird sanctuary, but still. The audio tour through the prison cells and quarters created an eerie feel. Hearing voices of some of the world’s most infamous criminals was chilling. We were on the island from 3PM-6PM, which was a little longer than I would have liked, but it was an educational and interesting stop (maybe one I would not do again).
After the conclusion of our not-so-exciting-or-informative trip to Alcatraz, we detoured to Lombard Street (the most crooked street). First, we looked at it… then we decided to DRIVE it (Mom opted out of sitting passenger-side as she was bound to have a heart attack). It felt like riding a crazy mouse roller coaster in slow motion and was not quite as intense as we had imagined, but certainly thrilling.
FINALLY! The Golden Gate Bridge! Marveling at its red infrastructure was indescribable. At sunset, the silhouette of the man-made wonder was magnificent. I ran across the bridge to the mid-section between the two peaks. I kept thinking about the people who drive cross the bridge every day for work, or the pedestrian who goes for their daily run on it. To them, is it just another way to get from here to there? Or, do they actually respect and appreciate its beauty? It must become mundane. However, I still peer at the Empire State Building with admiring eyes as it changes colors and peeks over the rooftops in NYC.
Our adventure will continue in other regions over the next few days…!