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27 Dec 2019

California Adventures: San Francisco Travel Diary Pt 2

San Francisco Travel Diary

Sweet Maple 

On our next full day in the city (part 1 here), we had a late brunch (we were somewhat ‘delicate’ after a trip to Wine Country the day before) at Sweet Maple. This was from my pre-trip research list and it is very popular but 100% worth queuing for in my opinion. Gary went for the ‘two eggs any style’ and I went for the ‘Big Hip’ – their famous deep-friend French toast. Absolutely delicious. The real attraction though? Their trademarked (!) Millionaire’s Bacon. Thick, free-range bacon baked with brown sugar, cayenne, red and black pepper. Gary’s breakfast came with but I got some as an additional side because I just had to try this out for myself. It was a taste like no other, a bit bonkers and a bit epic. The only way I can think to describe it. Add to your San Francisco bucket list! 

Painted Ladies 

Although San Francisco is full of beautiful, pastel coloured Victorian houses (although we hadn’t seen that many yet what with staying near the financial district), there’s one set in particular that’s famous and we headed there with our bellies full of Millionaire’s Bacon. Commonly referred to as the Painted Ladies, this line of houses are beautiful and iconic and we couldn’t not go to see them. They are on the edge of a pretty park and the San Francisco skyline sits behind them so all in all, it’s a lovely little spot for taking in the view. I was also delighted when a VW van drove by just as I was taking a photo! 

We spent the rest of the afternoon building an impressive step-count as we wandered in and out of several neighbourhoods. We saw the Mrs Doubtfire house to satisfy my younger self and wandered around Chinatown. I’ll admit that I didn’t love the vibe of just wandering, like I do in other cities. I felt perhaps I was missing something but – as I discovered later – we just hadn’t found the right bit yet. We did take a walk along the pier in front of our hotel when we got back which reinforced my opinion that the waterfront was (at that point in the trip) my favourite bit. 

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary


Alcatraz 

One of the world’s most notorious and best-known prisons, our visit to Alcatraz was a highlight of our trip for both of us and I can’t recommend enough. You have to book plenty in advance (up to 90 days) and I would highly recommend booking the night tour. It was eerie and immense, being on that little outcrop in the middle of the ocean as the sky started to darken. Plus, there are great views of the San Francisco skyline lit up at night and it just felt appropriate to visit the world’s most notorious prison in the dark, making it all the more spooky and Hitchcockian.  The audio tour around the prison is so, so interesting but the extra talks and events put on in the evening are what made the experience and totally worth the marginally higher price that you pay for the night tour. The best one (and by far the most popular) was by a guy who spent twenty years in prison for second-degree murder and spoke of his experiences in prison but also what it was like to then come back out into society. It was fascinating. 

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary


Cable Car

We spent our next day out of the city visiting the tallest trees in the world (more on that soon). On our fifth day, we started with brunch at Jane on Larkin which felt very ‘hipster’ and actually provided us with healthy food, which we promptly ruined by following it up with a trip to Mr Holmes Bakehouse. Admittedly this was one we went to because I got drawn in by the Instagram hype. By the time we got there, they had sold out of their famous cruffins which was kinda disappointing but we still weren’t gonna turn down the opportunity to sample some of their other baked goods. I went for the chocolate banana doughnut and Gary had the lemon meringue croissant and we both snaffled them down in record time, and then had to de-sugar our clothes afterwards. 

We needed to get back to the hotel to check out so – finally – we hopped onto one of the iconic cable cars which headed down the hill back to the waterfront. They were everything you want them to be – retro, iconic, the big leaver, the bell jingling, people hopping on and off, people standing on the steps and clinging on. It was so much fun and one of the best ways to experience those San Francisco hills. If you want a cable car recommendation – ride em downhill. Excellent views with the full effect of the steepness of the hills and the way they roll down to the water. 

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary


Height Ashbury 

Without a doubt, our favourite area. Our second accommodation in San Francisco was a basement apartment in Ashbury Heights and we were immediately like oh this is what we’ve been missing. Whilst we’d had a great time so far, we mostly felt like we’d been in the big sites / tourist hotzones and moving here made us feel like we were experiencing local life for the first time. We loved. After checking into the Airbnb, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around, gazing open-mouthed at all the exquisite, colourful Victorian houses. Every. Single. One was a beauty. We also saw the famous Height Asbury street which stills gives off a hippie movement vibe (of which the area is famous for) and makes for excellent people watching. Our favourite find in this area though was, without a doubt, Zazie; a little French bistro with the most delicious food. Our first (yes we went back) meal there was the best of our entire time in California. Zazie are also extra special because they lead on the Tip Free movement; you don’t need to tip there at all as 25% of every menu item is paid directly to the staff as revenue shares. If you ever go, I highly recommend the baked hot chocolate – so good.

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary


Final San Fran diary coming soon! 

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