So I spent the last week in San Francisco as you may know from reading my other blog posts:
And I thought it might be worth gathering up a few of my thoughts on my trip…
Getting around- We walked most places. Wear comfortable shoes! San Francisco is very very hilly. I saw a lot of people (locals, I think) wearing running gear just around and about, so I did go out in my runners one day and didn’t feel too ridiculous.
We didn’t get on the cable cars– They looked loads of fun to ride (you get to cling on for dear life to an open-sided car, as it hurtles down ridiculously steep hills), but as a bit of a tourist trap, there was always a massive queue to get on them and they were $6 a pop, compared to $2 for the streetcars, which appealed to my retro sensibilities equally (the historic F line ran old streetcars from all over the USA, mainly dating from the 1920s-50s) and actually went where we needed to get to. NB- We got the BART to and from the airport, which was quick, roomy (I never had to stand up and there was plenty of suitcase space even when we travelled to the airport at 5pm) and convenient as our hotel was just round the corner from one of the stations, so it made sense, although if you’re not as well located as we were, I guess a cab might make sense- Still, it was only $8.25 compared to around $40 for a taxi!
Weather- The weather is super-changeable- We were there during an unseasonable hot spell, which was lovely, but it still got very windy near the coast with weird foggy patches and clouds- Layers are your friend, although I don’t think it rains much- One 30 second downpour for us in the whole week that we were there
Eating- San Francisco is all about the food- We queued a LOT to get food- Even just to get sandwiches at lunch took AGES. Actually, now I think of it, I ate a lot of sandwiches while I was away! Local specialty, so we were reliably informed by Mark’s work colleagues was the Mission Burrito. I don’t really get how it’s that different to a bog standard one, if I’m entirely honest! Oh and garlic fries- I’ve no idea if these are big in other areas of the states, but they seemed to sell them a lot in SF. We didn’t eat anywhere particularly glamourous, but ate well everywhere we went.
As well as being big on cocktails and right near the Napa Valley, so wine is obviously high on the agenda, there’s a pretty big beer following- The local brew is Anchor Steam- Heavier than a lager, lighter than an ale would be how I’d describe it.
Homeless people– Yeah, they’re everywhere. And are possibly a teeny bit on the overbearing side- I certainly wouldn’t want to walk around the city alone at night, although I felt perfectly safe in the day- they collect in massive groups on the streets, lots of individuals begging with placards, and the occasional person approaching you directly to ask for cash. It’s worse around the centre of the city, particularly Union Square, which is a big old tourist hotspot, and the Tenderloin, which is a notoriously rough area, although no rougher than Union Square to my discerning eye! They were a bit like zombies, in a funny way- if you made eye contact, you got shouted at, but pretend they didn’t exist and it’s fine… which is a horrible state of affairs, but after one guy that Mark said (quite politely) ‘no sorry’ to, when asked for change, he leered up at me and called me a f’kin whore… which was lovely. We took to ignoring them after that
Hotels- We were a little bit tied to our hotel, as Mark’s company booked it for us, and we just decided to stay on for the extra four nights rather than moving somewhere else, but I’ll tell you about it anyway- my hotel review, if you will!- We stayed at the Galleria Park Hotel, on Sutter Street.
The goods- great location for Union Square, and pretty central for most things; nice styling- I love a bit of art deco, and the overall ‘look’ of the place felt pretty razzle dazzle, but homely at the same time; complimentary wine every day from 5.30-6.30 in the hotel lobby; they’re very pet-friendly- we saw three or four guests with dogs (if pet dogs are your thing); they have a small gym, and nice outdoor space (which is flagged as a running track, although I wouldn’t fancy running round it, but it was nice to sit out in!) and the staff are very friendly and helpful
The bads- Rooms are a bit on the wee side- Not too much of a problem if you’re travelling solo or only staying for a few days, but I felt like I could have done with a bit more space; Our room looked onto an alleyway, so was really noisy as rubbish was collected at all hours of the night and pretty gloomy with an office building right across the street; the key cards were stupidly sensitive- a minor point, really, but I had to change my key literally about 7 times, which was pretty frustrating; there’s no on-site bar or restaurant so you have to go next door for breakfast and there was no room service on the nights when you were too tired to think- They have a restaurant in the pipeline, I believe, though, so that will probably all change!
All in all, a good base, providing you’re not going to spend much time in your room