Just over ten hours later we touch down safely at San Francisco airport, a bit groggy but excited as our adventure has begun! Standing at the baggage claim watching the black carousel go round and round we watch people spot their bags, heave them off and wander away. After a while the carousel stops, we look up and realise we’re the only ones left waiting. “Whaaat the…..” we cry, “why OUR bags!”
We trudge along to the helpdesk mumbling away to each other that this could only happen to us when we get told our bags aren’t missing but are still at Heathrow. Phew! I haven’t lost my hair tongs!! We both get given a small amount of dollars as compensation so we can go off and buy essentials until our bags arrive the next evening. At least we have an excuse to go shopping! Now, what things to do in San Francisco?
We grab a map, leave the airport and get a train to the district our hostel is situated – downtown. It’s late in the evening now and the jet lag has hit us hard. We get off a few stops early by mistake wandering through steep side streets taking in all the different sights and the sounds of the trams ringing their bells, everything feeling so new and strange. We finally find our hostel and check into a four bed dorm. It’s basic but at this moment we don’t care we just need sleep! There’s earthquake warning signs everywhere showing what you should do in the event of an emergency. Ellen opts for the top bunk, I grab the bottom and pray there’s no earthquake tonight!
The next day we grab some free bagels from the kitchen and head to Union Square. One of fantastic things to do in San Francisco is shopping, with everything from Jimmy Choo to H&M. After a quick freshen up we decide to get the hop on and hop off bus for an easy way to see the city and for the chance to tick off lots of must sees such as Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world), Chinatown, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. We climb to the top of the bus for the best views and are lucky enough to find seats at the front. Screaming and crying with laughter as the bus speeds along the bridge blowing us this way and that it was freezing!! But well worth it as the views were amazing, even if it was a little misty!
We fall in love with Fisherman’s Wharf which is located at the waterfront, lots of restaurants, shops, attractions, street performers and live music. This is where you can hire bikes to take you up and down the hills, go fishing or take a bay cruise. We spend ages at Pier 39 fascinated by the resident sea lions that live here and soak up the views right across the bay where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the distance.
We pre-booked tickets for a night tour of Alcatraz and was so glad we did! The waiting lists are loooong!! We took a boat out into the dead of night to the abandoned prison, it was pouring with rain and FREEZING! The crew handed out blankets to keep us all warm which just added to the creepiness of it all. When we docked we were given headphones as it’s a self-guided tour and it was SO interesting. Believe me, I have an attention span of a two year old but for those next couple of hours I was hooked! We explored every part of that prison, the cells, solitary confinement, the kitchens, showers, the laundry room. It was cold, dark and eerie. The best bit was the hospital wing (which isn’t available to see on the day tour), it was like being in a horror film. There were old hospital beds, bed pans, dusty medical equipment and a spooky lone wheelchair. For any of you wanting to do Alcatraz the night tour is a must!
We spend a couple more days wandering around San Francisco, taking tram rides and eating in proper American diners. One day we accidently end up on a 9/11 truth march (still not sure how that happened!) and stumble upon a festival in Golden Gate Park called Power to the Peaceful, not really our thing but we stay and make the most of the beer tents! Dancing away with a drink in our hands in this field full of strangers I know the next three months are gonna be a blast. Next stop LA!
Author : Kellie – The Globetrotting Addict
About the author:
Having recently quit her desk job to travel once again, Kellie is now back in the UK teaching English. She loves sunshine, yoga, beaches, prosecco & house music