After a crazy fast trip to Utah so I could train the new interns, Isa and I decided to do an even faster trip to San Francisco. We arrived late Friday night after a very frustrating delay from Delta (who claimed it was too hot to take off from SLC because it was over 90 degrees). We finally arrived at our AirBnb in Walnut Creek a little after midnight and went straight to bed.

We slept in a little because Utah was exhausting and then we jumped on Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to head into the City. We didn’t really have a plan, so there was a lot of wandering and just finding things as we went. By the end of the day, we had covered 10.84 miles!

We took Bart to the Civic Center stop, which looked cool on the map – almost like Lincoln Center with its theatres, opera and ballet centers, and the library. Even City Hall was there and looked majestic:

But it’s tarnished by the hundreds (seriously, hundreds) of homeless people sleeping everywhere and the unmistakable stench of pee. It was awful.

We walked through the area quickly to get to our first destination: Brenda’s French Soul Food, which is one of the best brunch places in San Francisco. And after trying Isa’s sweet potato pancakes and my andouille sausage and cheddar omelet, we’re prepared to say it’s even better than Jacob’s Pickles in New York. Seriously, go try it. Totally worth the hour-long wait.

From Brenda’s, we wandered over to Alamo Square to check out the painted ladies from the Full House intro:

The Tanner home is actually at 1709 Broderick Street, which we did not go check out. We were content with these.

From here we walked through Lower Haight and then up Market Street and then plunged straight into the Tenderloin neighborhood. We have been considering moving to SF and we’d heard that we needed to check out Tenderloin. I don’t know if that was a joke or not, but with the number of homeless people around and graffiti (although cool) and trash, it was definitely not for us.

So we hightailed it outta there and cut through Union Square up into a much nicer shopping district. We found possibly our favorite candy store ever: Sugarfina. The branding was on point and the candy  they gave us (free sample!) was amazing. Well done, Sugarfina.

From here we saw the Dragon Gate that marks the start of Chinatown, so we ventured up Grant Ave for a while to reminisce about China. Except it feels nothing like China.

Chinatown in New York feels like China. This feels like an American’s imagination of what China would be like, although they’ve never actually been there.

After wandering through Chinatown for a bit, Isa noticed a street fair down a side street, so we checked that out for a bit, which opened up to this view of the TransAmerica Pyramid (the tall triangular one) and the Sentinel Building (the cool green one):

and then we caught sight of Coit tower, so we headed up the hill toward that for a view. The nice thing, we noticed, about SF is that you can get a nice view without having to get on top of a building. All the hills give pretty nice views all by themselves.

We kept heading up to the tower, but when we got there, we didn’t want to stand in the 45-minute line to get up, especially since it was closing in 30 minutes. And because it was still really hazy so you could only barely see the Golden Gate Bridge.

We took a side trail down the other side of Telegraph Hill, heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge, and wound up on this cool road…

…which come to find out, turns into Lombard Street. So we followed Lombard down the hill and then back up the other (STEEP) side to the squiggly part.

From the top of Lombard Street, it’s a pretty straight shot down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. It was getting late and chilly, so we decided to get warm food and cupcakes tonight and save the ice cream until tomorrow. We stopped by the food truck area at Jones and Beach streets and picked up some fish and chips at Codmother’s. Oh. My. Gosh. Best fish and chips we’ve ever had – and we’ve lived in Alaska for years. And for me, who grew up on cod (because that and flounder is pretty much all there is on the east coast), it was by far the best cod I’ve ever eaten. Props, Codmother’s. Props.

Heading back to Ghirardelli Square, we took a quick detour over to Aquatic Park to watch the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The park/beach is nice. The sand is surprisingly soft and it’s not as crowded as you’d expect it to be, being right in the middle of all the tourist attractions here.

Over to Kara’s Cupcakes for dessert, I got a red velvet cupcake and Isa was very excited for the passionfruit and buttercream. Mine was good. Not better than Sprinkles, though.

Isa’s frosting, unfortunately, tasted like a stick of butter, mildly flavored with vanilla extract. No sugar. She was not happy.

We went in to let them know that they may need to check that batch, that it’s possible they forgot to add the sugar, but the employee was undeterred and basically made Isa feel dumb for not knowing what buttercream should taste like. We left with a very unpleasant taste in our mouths for Kara’s Cupcakes. Boo for you Kara.

We took Columbus back across town. The area around Columbus and Stockton was so much fun! Lots of restaurants, tons of people, so much energy. It made us like San Francisco again (after Kara let us down).

We meandered through the financial district, past the pyramid building and along a very cool elevated walkway through the Embarcadero Center, and then took Bart home from there. Lots of ups and downs (both physically and emotionally) today. San Francisco is kinda polarizing like that.

Click here to read day 2 – exploring SF via mass transit

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