Hey hey hey. Time to sit down and finally recap the San Francisco part of our trip 🙂 Sonoma should be up shortly after this one!
For the first leg of our trip, be sure to check out my post about our Amtrak ride, because that was just as much a “part” of our trip as the two cities we visited.
So after taking what seemed like FOREVER to get from the Amtrak station in Emeryville to Fisherman’s Wharf via bus, we made the trek on foot from the station to our hotel.
Now. Our hotel. Guys. It was the cutest, most unique hotel I have ever stayed in. I read lots of reviews prior to booking this place, and everyone who knew what to expect loved it. There was a little negativity for people who weren’t quite prepared for the experience of it, but it suited our needs perfectly and cost literally half of what everything else in the area did.
We stayed at The San Remo Hotel which was very similar to the feel you might get in European hostel or a bed and breakfast. We had a tiny room, and the bathrooms and showers were down the hall. I was skeptical about the shared bathroom situation, but we stayed 4 nights and I never waited once for a shower or bathroom to open up. In addition, our bed was comfy, and the room had windows going outside and into the lobby, so at night we cracked these and it had a wonderful cross breeze. There was always coffee and ice water in the lobby, and cakes in the morning and candy in the afternoon (I think I ate my weight in red vines). Overall, it was a super cute hotel, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone on a budget who wants to be within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf and the other touristy areas. I want to go back and try out the Penthouse Suite sometime.
Naturally, after 42 hours on a train and another hour on a bus we wanted two things: a shower and food. We quickly got ready, then walked downstairs to check out the Italian restaurant below the hotel (that’s right: there is pasta on the first floor of the hotel).
Fior d’Italia proved to be the perfect first meal in San Francisco. We both got one of their handmade pastas, and while ravioli is not usually my first choice, this ravioli was INCREDIBLE. Soft dough, perfectly balanced meat sauce. We were also super excited by their dessert menu because each dessert could be ordered solo, or for an extra $3 or so paired with a dessert wine. Um, sign me up. I had tiramisu and Keaton had cheesecake and with the dessert wine to finish off our meal we climbed into our first real bed in almost a week (after moving and camping and train riding) as very happy people.
The next morning we decided to get moving because we had been sitting SO MUCH on the train. We took a two mile run down the pier, and then got to enjoy the morning bustle on the way back. We ran almost all the way to the Bay Bridge, and then stopped in at El Porteño in the Ferry Building Marketplace for an Empanada for breakfast. It was so yummy, make sure and get the sauce they offer!
Since we didn’t really expect Keaton to get a job offer SO quickly, we actually spent some of the morning working on paperwork and drinking coffee at the hotel. At that point we were hungry for a real meal, so we headed to The Codmother food truck for some fish and chips. This food truck had popped up on several restaurant searches, and it was bumpin’ with business. After eating there, it was obvious why. We got fish and chips, baja shrimp tacos, and crazy fries (go big or go home, right?). The shrimp was super juicy and delicious, and the crazy fries were nothing short of heaven. Definitely not our “healthiest” meal on the trip, but worth every dang calorie 😉
Then we basically started walking. I love getting the feel of a city by walking around, and San Francisco is awesome for people watching. There is such a mix of ethnicities, languages, and income levels. The homeless population was mentioned to me several times when I asked people about San Francisco, and it really wasn’t an exaggeration to say there were homeless people everywhere. They all were polite and actually less prone to ask for money, etc than I’ve seen at home in Kansas City, but it was a little heartbreaking to see it so prominently.
Our next stop was Ghirardelli Square. Keaton found out about this particular locale on the train, and while he’s not big on desserts, Ghirardelli is like his most favorite chocolate ever, so it was a necessary stop. The shop was pretty neat, and smelled like straight heaven. We ordered an Ocean Beach to share and yes, it was as delightful as you could imagine.
At this point we really felt the need to keep on walking because, well, we had spent more time eating than walking at that point 😉 We were excited to get to the Golden Gate bridge for the first time, and since the weather is usually only 65-75 in San Francisco, it was perfect for walking. We happened upon Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and took a peek around the exhibit that was going on, but based on the website this could be a whole day’s worth of exploring if you are into art!
We made it back to the water somewhere around Yacht Harbor, then stopped at Crissy Field East Beach where a bunch of guys were doing some sort of water sport that appears to be kitesurfing. As Midwesterners this was thoroughly entertaining, and we watched them for a while, picked out guys we were rooting for, etc.
After continuing our walk down The Presidio we got some pictures of us in front of Golden Gate. The day was pretty overcast (which is quite normal for San Francisco I hear), but we got some decent shots and headed back to grab an Uber back towards the city.
We had our Uber driver drop us at Buena Vista Cafe for another San Francisco staple…Irish coffee! The bar itself is very homey and comfortable feeling, and the staff was warm despite it being an obvious tourist hub (I’m sure that gets annoying at times). The star of the show as a delicious drink composed of hot coffee, two sugar cubes, a shot of whisky, and topped with fresh whipped cream (you could hear the mixer going under the bar). Trust me as a non-whisky drinker when I say it was delicious. The BEST afternoon treat after walking all over cloudy San Francisco all day. I also got some sort of gin drink, but honestly, the coffee was the highlight of our stop.
Next we walked (yes, some more) back towards our hotel, but we decided to take the historic Lombard Street route. This is something you truly have to see to believe. We made the mistake of walking to the top of the actual crooked street, which was a little dizzying in itself. There are literally signs that say you have to part at a 90 degree angle. We drove up and down some similarly steep hills later in the trip, and even Keaton was a little unnerved at how steep they were.
The famous part of Lombard or the “crooked street” was incredibly gorgeous. There was beautiful landscaping, and the cobblestones are something you see in a 1920’s era movie. The houses were so cute as well, but I couldn’t help thinking how annoyed I would be to live on a street where people just drive up and down it for fun :). Imagine trying to get in and out of that driveway!
At this point, it was dinnertime. We were still in a seafood mood, but didn’t want anything too close to the crazy-busy Fisherman’s Wharf, which seemed to consist of mostly chains and tourist trap type restaurants. We found Pacific Catch via a quick Google Search (seriously, how did we live without smartphones?) and stopped by on our way home. I got the poke sampler and Keaton got fish and chips for the second time that day (he’s silly but whatever). As my first poke experience I have to say it was incredibly delicious, and the original was definitely the best. We also got some ceviche which was refreshing as well.
Whew, so that was day one! I just checked and it looked like we walked about 9 miles that first day! No wonder we were ready to pass out like an old couple at 9:30 that night ;). As you can see, we didn’t really make many plans for our tourist-ing, but we hit a ton of popular spots! I will continue on with our story about Angel Island, San Jose, and Sonoma in the next few posts.
With my ❤ in San Francisco,
Our San Francisco Trip Series