“I left my heart in San Francisco…” – Tony Bennet.
San Francisco! Not San Fran and not Frisco, believe me if you dare use those nicknames you will be pinned as a tourist in no time! San Francisco to our Northern Californians is simply, The City.
I was coming from Pleasanton, California and my cousin and I were without a car, therefore the easiest mode of transportation is to hop on the Bart which is California’s subway system for the Bay Area. For those of you coming from New York like myself, you may be used to the prices of the regular New York City subway system. The Bart is similar but also has its differences. I’m leaving a link to the different options here, but if you’re using the Bart for a short period of time, I would recommend getting a $16 Orange ticket. Each ride is about $8, so if you need to use the transit service more often you might then want to consider getting the blue ticket which costs $45 for a $48 value. As far as what it’s like to ride on the Bart, it is very similar to a New York City subway but the seats are so much more comfortable! And… it doesn’t smell.
And so, we ended up in San Francisco and our first stop was to go to Nordstrom. The Nordstrom in San Francisco is a great place to visit if you enjoy shopping. This particular Nordstrom was right off the Bart and on Market Street. It’s a huge store, a good 4 floors if I can remember correctly. We decided to stop by M.A.C. cosmetics because they do free make-overs for you. Of course, you may want to consider buying something after your make-over because they are trying to sell their products after all. None the less, it’s great if you’re looking for that new lipstick or eyeshadow.
With a fresh new look, we were already hungry for lunch and I was craving some authentic Mexican food. New York has great food but authentic Mexican is lacking. California has a large Mexican or Hispanic influence so you can bet some really good Mexican food will be around. We were recommended to go to Topisueno. It’s fast service for lunch and a full-service restaurant for dinner. If you get there for lunch you walk in and look at the menu then order at the front bar, pay, grab your drink and service card and sit yourself down to wait for your food. The place is incredibly authentic, decorated beautifully, and affordable. Needless to say, it was the perfect lunch for a day in San Francisco.
We continued to walk through the City and explore our surroundings. I compare San Francisco to New York City a lot because New York City is the one I grew up near and saw the most often. San Francisco has a city vibe but people are friendly and will take the time to talk to you even if they are moving fast-paced. New York City has friendly people but not many who are willing to talk to you for a few minutes to help you find your way around. San Francisco is also clean! It still has a strong city smell but there’s not really any trash on the street. In fact, some sidewalks sparkle!
Now, my cousin and I are avid coffee drinkers and what better of a place to visit than Nespresso? We went to the one closest to Union Square at Williams-Soma. Nespresso is like Keurig but with espresso. They sell little pods with their own machines and with San Francisco being known for their coffee, this was a perfect treat for a mid-day pick-me-up! This Nespresso has a little cafe on the first floor where you can order your drinks made with a Nespresso Machine and some treats along with it as well. I ordered a chai latte with espresso. We were also offered two little macaroons as a free treat! Downstairs there is a Nespresso bar where you can taste the different types of espresso they sell. A perfect place to visit for the caffeine lovers! If you want to learn more about San Francisco and their coffee, check out Buzzfeed’s adventure with their “Espresso-A-Go-Go in San Francisco 2k15.” Also, don’t forget to stop by a Peet’s Coffee in California. Would I actually dare to say it’s better than Starbucks? Yes, yes I would.
Our next stop in the city was to finally ride a cable car! Now, I was calling them trolleys. San Francisco does have trolleys but they are different from the cable cars. Trolleys are connected to the wires above the street and they run on those. They’re more like buses if anything and has a motor. Cable cars aren’t connected to that wire and they run on their own power-house which is not a motor but levers controlled by the driver. It’s a classic tourist thing to do whilst in San Francisco and can be a great experience. Our cable car actually had an interesting incident. As we were going up a steep hill the driver suddenly pulled the lever for the breaks and started ringing his bell. The cars actually drive along the same tracks the cable cars drive on so the cable cars have to give signals just like cars do. The cable car hadn’t gotten enough speed to go up the hill. The driver began to slowly let the cable car go backward down the hill and believe me, I was terrified. It was like those roller-coasters that suddenly send you backward, the only difference is this was not the original plan! Thankfully we had an amazing driver and he pushed us back up the hill with enough speed. None the less it was a pretty cool trip and a great way to see the city. If you want some laughs about cable cars our San Francisco in general, check out Eddie Izzard on San Francisco.
We got off our cable car ride at Fisherman’s Warf. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with shopping, eateries, and plenty of entertainment. Fisherman’s Warf originated from the fisherman who would travel back and forth from Pier 39 making the area what it is today. It’s the perfect tourist attraction with tons of things to do and see. We were lucky enough to come across a magic show performed by Ryan Kane Magic. He is a great performer in the San Franciscan area who does a lot of his performances for San Francisco tourists. His show was out on Pier 39 for free but we left him some money because his show was absolutely amazing and we were lucky to see it. If you get the chance while in San Francisco, keep an eye out for his shows.
That wasn’t all by Fisherman’s Warf or Pier 39. If you make your way over to some of the docks where you can see the famous Alcatraz right nearby, there will usually be a group of sea lions! That’s right, sea lions! After an earthquake in 1989, sea lions began to camp out on the docks in the winter months. Since there were so many the people in the area decided to keep them there and not bother with trying to move them. And so, the sea lions took over the pier! They are absolutely adorable and a great site to see.
Soon enough it was time for dinner and lucky for me I arrived right around the time when the Dungeness Crab was in season. Scoma’s Restaurant, known for their pier to plate menu with Italian style seafood. The best seafood you’re every going to get! Of course, I ordered the Dungeness Crab on ice with the sauce to dip it in. Honestly, with crab like that, you don’t even need the sauce. A delicious meal with amazing service. Scoma’s is the place to go if you are ever within the vicinity of Fisherman’s Warf. They have plenty of other great specialties as well, including their clam chowder which I munched on for an appetizer. While in New York, seafood doesn’t ever come to me that fresh.
By the time we finished our meals, the night sky was overhead and we had to see one last thing before saying goodbye to San Francisco. We drove to the very top of Twin Peaks and there we saw all of San Francisco. I looked out to the lights, the stars on the ground. Took in a deep breath of the chilled air and thanked San Francisco for its awesome adventures. There was so much more to see but such little time. And with that, I promised to come back some day. I left my heart in San Francisco.
To read about my day 1 and day 2 of my trip to California, follow the links below!
Day 1: San Francisco
Day 2: San Francisco Bay Area