Today we were up early, it was about seeing all the sights today. We had breakfast in Daily Grill, American breakfast of course no being extra healthy while I am on holiday. After we were full to the brim we walked down to Union Square to catch one of the first Big Busses. There was hardly a queue today and no waiting around for a bus which was nice.
Our first stop of the day was Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies. The bus stops a couple of blocks so you do have to walk back on yourself, Google Maps helped us out there. The Painted Ladies were as pretty as the pictures on Google, the different colour Victorian house just looked postcard perfect. As we were so early the sun wasn’t fully out so the pictures weren’t as bright as we had hoped but you could still see the colours. We had a little walk around and then made our way back to the bus stop.
Back on the bus we were then off to our next stop on our list, the Golden Gate Park. We walked through the park taking it all in. I had read online about the De Young Museum having a viewing platform on the top floor which was free to go to. I thought I would give it a go and see what the view was like. When we got to the museum they told us it was free to enter however, if you wanted to see some of the exhibits you would have to pay. This was fine with us, we walked in and went in the direction of the lift for the observation platform (it’s to the far right when you walk in). We got the lift up to the 9thfloor and got chatting to a security guy that worked there in the lift. It turns out he was originally from East London and used to come to the town we live in for daytrips, what a small world. Anyway when we reached the 9th floor and stepped out, the view was amazing, it was floor to ceiling glass all the way round. You could see all of San Francisco and even the tip of the Golden Gate Bridge. I am assuming not a lot of people know about this as it was very quiet up there. After taking some pictures and looking around we made our way back down and out back into Golden Gate Park.
Next stop was the Japanese Tea Garden which is near to the De Young Museum. There is a fee to enter the Japanese Tea Garden which is $8 each, but I did find out later that it is free to enter before 10am on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The gardens are beautiful and I can’t imagine how much work it takes to maintain them. I loved walking round the gardens, if you see the steep bridge, try walking or should I say climbing over it. It was so peaceful you almost felt you had to whisper going round. You could stop for tea in the little cafe but we didn’t this time.
We then jumped back on the bus to go over the Golden Gate Bridge to North Vista Point which is basically a viewing point for the bridge. It was extremely busy here but we still managed to get some nice photos. We didn’t stay around here too long as everyone is trying to get to the wall to take photos of the bridge of the bridge. We did manage to find a little spot to take some photos and watch the world go by for a little while.
Back on the Big Bus again and back over the bridge where our next stop was the Palace of Fine Arts. The bus stops on the main road so you just have to cross the road and walk back on yourself a bit but it only took around 5 minutes. Sam was a little bit reluctant to get off the bus here but I wanted to go and see it. Once we got there we couldn’t believe how pretty it was. We walked all the way round the lake and stopped to take lots of photos. Just as we were leaving a big tour group arrived so it became very busy so we were lucky to get our pictures before they all arrived.
Back to the bus stop and back on the bus, next stop was Lombard Street. The bus driver had told us that the nearest stop was at the bottom of the steepest hill. I’m guessing the busses can’t get up it. Anyway we jumped off the bus at the bottom of the hill and started what felt like the hardest climb up the hill at one point I felt like crawling. It seemed even some of the cars were struggling up the hill which I found quite amusing. When we finally made it to the top and I stopped moaning about how steep the hill was, the views made me forget about it all. The view was amazing we were at the top of crooked street where the cable car stopped. The gardens were beautiful and i loved that every house was different. We walked down the side of the cars slowly taking the turns of the road and stopped a few times to admire the view and take a few photos. When we made it to the bottom we stopped along with everyone else to take photos in the middle of the street looking up Lombard Street.
We then walked from here down the steep hills to Girardelli Square. We went into the chocolate shop where they were giving away free tasters of some chocolate. Oh my, I only had one tiny square and I was hooked I just walked around saying how amazing the chocolate was and then before I knew it I found myself filling a little build your own chocolate box of all different flavoured chocolates. This cost around $16 which was good value for money when I managed to squeeze around 30 chocolates inside. When I got to the till the girl said I could squeeze at least another three or four chocolates in there, she was good at the chocolate Tetris you had to play.
After Girardelli Square we were quite hungry and I was desperate to try In N Out Burger while we were here and I remembered when we was on the bus night tour there was one along the front by Fisherman’s Wharf. Finally I had my first In N Out Burger and it was worth the wait.
After some lunch we decided to burn off the burger by hiring bikes and cycling to Sausalito over the Golden Gate Bridge. We hired bikes from Blazing Saddles just opposite the cable car turn around. We were given forms to fill out along with ferry tickets to use on the return if we wanted to. We grabbed some bikes and a map and we were off. The bridge doesn’t seem far away when you look, but trust me it’s miles away. We cycled down on the cycle path along the water front and then there it was, that first hill it was an absolute killer but we made it to the top, my poor legs were like jelly and we had only just started. We then cycled through Crissy Fields where the views of the bridge are beautiful all the way up to Fort Point where you can get great shots of the Golden Gate Bridge up close and also shots of the City behind you. We then cycled up another horrible hill to the top of the bridge. Finally we had made it to the bridge and were about to start cycling across. It was so windy up there, there are also stopping points to take pictures, however, cycling across that bridge is also pretty scary with all the locals going so fast and overtaking, they must think annoying tourists. We were also cycling on the east side of the bridge so we couldn’t get those great shots of the city as we had the road between us so we just carried on cycling all the way to the end when we stopped to catch our breath. Once over the bridge, you then cycle down under the bridge where you can get some great shots of the bridge again, it’s really quiet as everyone takes pictures from the viewing points. We then carried on to Sausalito, we had the joy of riding along flat ground for all of about 5 minutes when we were greeted with another huge hill. By this point I had given up completely and got off my bike and walked up the hill however this one seemed to be never ending, it went on and on. When we reached the top the view was beautiful and much to my delight it was then all downhill to Sausalito, you do share the road so just be careful of cars although they are good and only go around you when it is safe, not like here in the UK.
We made it to Sausalito and parked our bikes in a bike parking space, there was like a little bike park, where you could lock your bike up. We walked back into the town as I had read there was a Christmas shop here so I wanted to pick up a Christmas decoration for the our tree. I have a little thing where I try and buy a Christmas decoration wherever we visit, there is always a Christmas shop somewhere. Anyway $5 down and a cable car decoration later we were heading back to our bikes and the ferry back to San Francisco. I would have liked to have spent longer here it seemed like such a lovely little town but it was nearly 5:30pm so we wanted to get back before dark and before the bike shop shut. We went onto the ferry with our bikes, which the guys on the ferry then take off you and stack up, just remember which bike is yours as there is probably around 200 bikes all stacked up. The ferry took around half an hour back to San Francisco with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. When we were back in San Francisco they offload passengers without bikes and then one by one you take your bike and depart the ferry. The ferry was $11.25 which wasn’t bad at all. We then cycled back to the bike shop and handed our bikes back, it cost us $71 for 4 hours each bike hire and 2 ferry tickets.
Then we decided to ride the cable car (Powell/Hyde) back to Geary Street as our legs were like jelly from all the cycling. The queue took around 30 minutes and by the time we got to the front the sun had set and San Francisco was all lit up. The ride back to Geary was around 20 minutes and we stood on the back of the cable car where we got some great views. It was $7 each to ride the cable car.
We then got changed and walked to North Beach through Chinatown and headed to Tony’s Pizza Napolenta, which I had read some great reviews about. However, when we finally reached it there was a sign on the door saying it was closed on a Tuesday. I was so disappointed as I had been looking forward to it all day. Luckily they had a sister restaurant just round the corner called Cappo, so we decided to try this out instead. It was a lovely little restaurant, really friendly staff and very large portions. We had a pizza and salad to share, this pizza was huge, even between the two of us we couldn’t finish it all. Diner was around $52.84 plus $10 tip, you can also take away whatever you hadn’t managed to eat but we just left it as we knew it would probably just be left in the room. After dinner we took a slow stroll back to our hotel back through Italy and Chinatown, back to the hotel room to plan our last day in San Francisco.