London - San Francisco
Arrived at SFO at 12:30pm. Took the BART as the hotel recommended it, they also advised to get off at The Civic Centre and get a taxi, this is instead of taking the $50 cab ride one way.
Everything was going well until we got to The Civic Centre, couldn't find a taxi in sight, and the 2 Police Officers we asked for help just told us to "get out of the area and keep heading down the road", we didn't realise we were in the Tenderloin as walking through there with our bags, money etc wasn't advised.
Managed to flag down a cab further down the road near Union Square.
Hotel was lovely, we stayed at the Golden Gateway Holiday Inn on Van Ness near California Street.
Had a quick dip in the pool and walked down to Polk Street for some lunch. Had a nice Mexican, I cannot remember the name of it, which is a shame as it was sooooo good!
That night we took a cab to Fisherman's Warf, had a look around although it was very quiet. My two friends stood around the sea food market with their mouths watering, apparently its good if not the best seafood in the world (sorry I cant eat seafood so I cant comment).
We then had some dinner at Joe's Crab Shack which apparently although the name has changed, it used to be owned my Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.
We then went to Dirty Martini's and The Irish Bar (cannot remember the name either) before grabbing a taxi to the hotel.
We decided to beat the jetlag at the hotel pool, the pool had great views and apparently we were lucky with the weather, it was over 30 degrees, so made the day even better! Grabbed a bite to eat down Polk Street again. We were loving the quirky restaurants and bars down here, there's so much choice and prices are very reasonable.
Bought an all day passport so we could ride the trams, cable cars etc all day. Took the tram from California Street, which was nicely located right outside our hotel to The Financial District. The high rise buildings and water front were good to look at and we did a bit of walking around.
We went for dinner at Hard Rock on Pier 39, this was ok, food was good, but atmosphere was a bit off. Then decided to hop on the F Line to Castro which was the last stop on the line. Didn't have a clue when we got there where we were going but found a gay bar called The Bar, which I think was a $3 cover? (correct me if I'm wrong, I had a few to drink by this point with dinner!). Stayed in there all night, was really fun and everyone was friendly. We met a couple of nice guys called Aaron and Steve. We had to get a cab back as the F Line had stopped for the night. I think this cost about $8.
Spent the day sight seeing , mainly in the Union Square Area. Bloomingdale's, Macys and Saks...awesome!
Later on we got the California Line to China Town! Correct me if I'm wrong but I heard someone say this is the largest China Town in the whole of the US? To be honest I wasn't much impressed (I think I prefer Manchester UK's China Town), although to be fair we had an awful meal and I had to leave my friends because I was feeling really tired.
Chilled out cable car-ing around the City, but ended up eating near the Financial District at a place called Palominos ?? Had an awesome steak here and the Mojitos were great!
Now this is were it gets messy...... decided to have a big night out in Castro, but from getting off the California line and getting on the F Line, it took us nearly 2hrs! Normally this should be a 5 minute walk! My friends decided to pay a visit to the homeless guy and his cat (Dan and Samantha) and then joined forces with the skateboarders further on down, needless to say after a few falls later we managed to get on the F Line. Got to Castro and went to The Cafe, loved it here, my friends loved it more because of the half naked men dancing on table etc. Would recommend this place to anyone who's up for a good night out, shame about the queues for the toilets though!
After waking up I managed to get my friends up and presentable for a trip to The Golden Gate Bridge. We took the local bus from just outside our hotel, and once on the bus driver wasted no time giving us a verbal tour of the city, and the places to go and see. This driver was so friendly, and we really appreciated his help. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for the 2 middle aged women twins at the front of the bus who sat there shouting "this isn't a @#*% ing tour bus" and "why don't you girls just throw yourselves off the @#*% ing bridge when you get there". We had to put up with this all the way to the next stop, at first it was amusing, but as they got off they took the driver's number and said they were going to report him. We all felt really guilty , but the driver said not to worry.
When we got the Bridge it was fairly quiet, we grabbed a coffee and started to walk over. We found it quite hard to get a decent picture of the Bridge due to all the other happy snappers, but it didn't matter and just being there was fantastic! Views were amazing because it was such a clear day. After waking across and back we took at look at "the photo point", we found we got a better picture from just below this point, near the track, where there was no fence blocking the view.
Hopping on a bus and getting off at the Golden Gate Park, was our next stop. Wow! What a park! Bikes, runners , skateboarders etc everywhere. We explored the area for a while then went to the lake where we hired a pedal boat. I think we played $25 for an hours, which included a $1 deposit. I had forgotten how tiring these things are when they are not in the sea and not being helped back to shore by the waves! We did a lap around the lake. Tired and ready for dinner we headed back to the hotel to get ready.
We decided on Italian tonight for dinner. We were told to go to The Stinking Rose, where every dish has garlic in it! Even the deserts!! In retrospect I wished we had chosen a more authentic restaurant, but couldn't fault the meal and the red wine from Half Moon Bay was lovely.
Early night tonight
Woke up and taxied down to O'Farrell St (near union square) to the Dollar rent a car. When we got there we were told that the car I had booked the day before wouldn't be ready for another hour, but they said they would compensate us by taking of $30 of the final price. So we decided to run across the road and grab some brunch. We ate in the restaurant which was attached to the Hilton, something-Urban??? Ok food, but nothing to shout home about.
Picked up our red convertible!! Yippee! (shame it was a bit colder today as well lol) headed out of San Francisco. A tip here..... the car was in the under ground car park, so when we turned on the Sat nav we didn't think to wait for it to find a signal, once I drove out onto the O'Farrell St it was a bit of a mess, but I kept on circling union Square till the Sat Nav came on! Heading out on the 101, then took the coast road to Santa Cruz. I must say this was my first time driving in the US, and I found it really relaxing, even on the freeway's everyone is relaxed, there's no tail-gating like we get over here! The coastal drive was great, and the weather warmed up. We stopped off at Half Moon Bay, and couple of beaches on the way for photo opps.
Arrived in Santa Cruz (proberly took a total of only an hour and a half without all our stops).
Unfortunately the boardwalk was closed! :( We did meet some nice American guys who taught us how to play volleyball on the beach though, so all is not lost! Spent the day on the beach and then on the pier where there were loads of sea lions! I'm in mixed minds about Santa Cruz, wasn't as I was expecting on the day, although maybe in peak season on a really hot day it comes alive??
Headed back, but took the non-costal route.
We had the car over night, so had to park it in the hotel's secure parking.....$40!!!! Had I known I wouldn't of bothered!
Tonight we had pizza, then headed to The Cafe again in Castro. It was 2 for 1 on drinks, but very empty. We met a guy who said he would take us to club if we wanted to share the cab fare. We agreed.......
...went to place called End Up. Was a bit seedy to be honest, and the guy who took us there was too! (can anybody clear this up - Do you think he had alternative motives? Is this normal? Kind of felt that he wanted something in return for showing us around). The last straw when was he said his friend would drop us off at our hotel in his car, so we wouldn't have to take a cab....I made sure we took the cab!!
Today was our last full day, and like I expected there was no way on earth we were going to get tickets for Alcatraz! And we didn't. So we hung around Pier 39, and did all the touristy things. Found a nice wine bar there, mmmmmmm.
Tonight we had Mexican down Polk Street (we love this street!). Then headed down California Street to the F Line. Thankfully no man and his cat nor skateboarders tonight so made it to the street car in record time lol. Went to The Bar which we had been to on our 2nd night. Meet some cool people (hi Alec, Amanda and Gonzales!).
Off to bed, early start in the morning.
Headed to the airport at 7:40am using the hotel's shuttle service. Its was only $12 each so was a cheap effective way of getting us there on time. Checked in at the Domestic Terminal for United Airlines (we had a connecting flight in Chicago before return home to London). Plane was on time and I managed to get a few bottles of wine for presents back home in duty free. Boarded the plane at 10:00am and we were ready to take off , but down the runway we had a technical problem so were grounded for and hour and a half! Which meant we would miss our connecting flight in Chicago. We were rushed to the front of the place and told to go to the International Terminal where we would be catching a direct flight back to London! Woohoo! Although having to go through security again meant I lost my bottles of wine as they wouldn't let them through :(
On the plane we were split up for seating and I sat next a lovely American couple, we chatted and I mentioned my bottle of wine, next thing I know the air hostess came along with an expensive bottle of white wine and apologised for what had happened at security. Thought this was a lovely gesture!
Arrived in London Heathrow.....home.......currently missing San Francisco.