On our last day in San Francisco, we originally planned on waking up early and riding a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf…we had noticed that the line for the cable cars run long, so we thought we could beat the traffic. However, since our evening outing to the Golden Gate Park the night before didn’t go as planned (everything was closed), we decided to head back there. The Japanese Tea Garden had a sign saying that their “free” hours were 9-10 a.m. on Friday, which was perfect for us.
So we got to the Golden Gate Park just around nine, and managed to get into the Japanese Tea Garden. If you’re ever in San Francisco, GO TO THIS PART OF THE PARK. It is absolutely gorgeous and makes you feel one with nature. There are all these ponds with coy fish swimming around and stepping-stones as bridges. There was also a lot of Japanese architecture around that was stunning. My favorite part was this bridge that rose vertically up, so you had to climb up it like a ladder. It was a quite a work out. There were also secret dirt paths that would take you around a corner to more beautiful flowers and trees. I’m not entirely sure we went to all the areas of the Japanese Tea Garden because it was just so mysteriously beautiful.
Check out some pictures I took at the Japanese Tea Garden:
We then decided to hike back through the park to catch the MUNI back to Market Street to finally ride a cable car. We wanted to see as much as the park as possible, so we walked through it to a further bus stop than the one we got off at; the park is actually quite huge, so it’s something you have to plan to spend an entire day there.
You don’t truly experience San Francisco until you travel by cable car. And that is the only way to travel…like, I’m trading my car in for a cable car of my own (I’m kidding…they’re actually quite annoying). But, wow, the line. It went around the block. If you do this, keep in mind to get there early and DON’T bring a backpack. They make you wearing them in front, so you look like a creepy weird tourist and it’s just awkward while hanging on the side (p.s. you can’t ride a cable car without standing on the side…you just can’t). Also, another hint, the cable cars are a tourist attraction, but they’re a legit form of public transportation in San Francisco, so each car goes to a different street…a lot of people don’t realize that and end up in the wrong part of town. We didn’t even realize it, until the people behind us asked one of guys working there.
When a cable car comes into the “station” (it’s really just the end of the street…but I don’t know what else to call it), the driver rides it onto a circular platform. Then three or four guys come up and physical turn the cable car around: they push/pull and the platform turns. They then push it up to the loading dock so more people get on.
Video I took of the cable car being turned around:
When we finally got on the cable car, we took it to Lombard Street, which is the crookedest street in the world or something, which is made of brick. You can’t walk down it (I tried, but almost got run over by a car…sad face), but they have a staircase on the side. It reminded me, I’m not ashamed to admit this, of the Princess Diaries. Especially the part where Anne Hathaway crashes her car in to the cable car and Julie Andrews has to knight the cop and cable car driver to get them free…Anyway, it was quite beautiful, especially because they planted flowers around the road.
We then walked down the massive hills towards Fisherman’s Wharf. You can see the Wharf when you stand at the top of Lombard Street. I was practically jogging down the hill to keep myself from falling. It was intense.
When we got to the Wharf, we had two choices for lunch: pizza or clam chowder. I have this colleague who told me I wasn’t living if I didn’t go to the Wharf and eat clam chowder from a bread bowl. Which I did. And you really haven’t lived unless you ate San Francisco clam chowder from a bread bowl, and then ate that bowl. It was excellent. The place is called Lou’s on the pier. I highly recommend their clam chowder bread bowls. #PhillipApproved.
Then we walked up the Wharf (completely gorgeous by the way) and saw artisans who make sourdough bread into different creatures, a ton of sailboats, and many different types of shops. We made our way to Ghirardelli Square, which we only did because we had extra time before heading back to the airport and because people (i.e. my mom) kept telling us to go there. And, alas, mom, you were right (again).
I think Ghirardelli Square is my favorite square there is. It’s so colorful and bright. AND THEY GIVE YOU FREE CHOCOLATE!!! There are tons of stores in this particular square and they are all affiliated with Ghirardelli, which means each one will give you free chocolate (and good chocolate, not like weird pistachio-rum or sea-salt-vinegar chocolate that some idiot thought was a great idea and what normal people think is disgusting), and each one has an ICE CREAM BAR. Okay, I have a passion for chocolate and ice cream separately, can you imagine my feelings of them together?
At this point, I was exhausted from all the walking I did in three days – I’m telling you, those San Francisco hills are steep – so I decided to get a chocolate milkshake because it combines my two best friends, chocolate and ice cream. All the effort that is required to consume such a dessert is the sucking of a straw…yes, spooning ice cream (never a chore) was too much of an effort for your fearless blogger (I WAS POOPED!). And I’m telling you, it was happiness in a cup. So my sister got her shake first, and the guy asked if she wanted whipped cream (who wouldn’t?) and then he put a cherry on it. Then, as he was whipping my cream (he didn’t even have to ask), I was like “oh, you don’t have to give me a cherry.” He was like “okay,” and handed me my shake. As I was about to walk away, he was like “buddy, wait, here,” and he held up a cup of cherries. I reached out and was about to take them, then I looked back to see him smiling and saying “I’m just teasing ya.” I smiled and walked over to the counter to put a lid on my cup and he then looked up at me whilst making a different ice cream sundae and with a seriously concerned face said, “make sure it’s okay first. Take a sip, sometimes the chocolate tastes like crud.” Apparently I looked shocked/anxious, so I stuck my straw and cautiously sipped and glanced back to see him smiling again, and was like “bro, I’m just messing with you.” I smiled, laughed, and yelled “STOP IT!!!!” and ran out of the shop before he did another thing to me, like tell me he was my long lost cousin from Italy and he was here to tell me that I was the prince of some Italian kingdom and I had to join them in my training of becoming king…because, you know, I’d believe that (hey, it happened to Anne Hathaway, it could happen to anyone!).
Check out more pictures of the cable car, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square:
Anyway, so that’s pretty much my whole trip. I really did enjoy myself, and did as much as possible in two and half days. If you’re thinking of going to San Francisco, I would highly recommend it, but I would suggest going for at least a week. There’s so much to do and see, and you don’t want to miss it all. I had a great time, and only hope I can go back.
But, alas, who knows where I’ll go next ;-P