San Francisco

Walking in ripped Jeans or missing the ferry to Alcatraz?

General Facts

Population: 870.000,  Metro 3.5 Mio

Founded: 1776

Arrival: By Plane (SFO, but there are 2 smaller airports also close, OAK and SJC, so check both for better price), Train (Amtrak, BART, Calltrain, The long distance station is across the bay), Bus (Megabus, Bolt Bus, Greyhound etc.), Boat (Golden Gate Ferries, Blue and Gold Fleet, BayLink Ferry, Alameda Oakland Ferry, Harbor Bay Ferry)

Location: California, San Fransisco Bay Area

Weather: warm-summer mediterranean climate, average temperature is 14.1°C, around 11 in winter and 17 in summer, November to April is raining season, May-Ocotobre is dry but it can be foggy, still there are more than 3000 hours of sun a year

My To-Do Tip:

Sure, you will go for the typical view point for the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center at the peak of the half island. If you have a car, take your time and explore the full Presidio, especially the roads along the water, they offer great views and hiking trials to other viewpoints, battery’s and memorials. It’s total worth it. Also, you should cross the bridge and look on it with the city in the background and explor the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – I sadly missed it on this visit

My personal experience

First day I made my way to the Piers, where Fisherman’s Warp, the Alcatraz Boats departures and famous Pier 39 is located. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to Alcatraz, as in the time of my visit the Government shutdown happened, when Obamacare took place and they couldn’t decide how to spend their money – So for a while all National Parks and Monuments were closed, Alcatraz included…

I can recommend you a visit on the O’Brian, a museums ship at the piers. I personally came later in the day on the ship, talked in the engine room to one of the guys who keep the ship intact. As the museum closed soon, he invited me to have some drinks with them on the ship. It turned out that they are a maintaining the ship unsalaried and have some drinks after as a little payout. They told me that it was part of the Normandy Invasion and that they ship once a year for the anniversary to France. They also take some guests to share the costs, so it is possible to book that trip – but tickets are rare and go fast. Still I would love to do that.

Drinking with the crew on the O’Brian

Next day I had the plan to explore downtown and Chinatown starting with a ride of the famous cable cars. Seeing the price and the waiting line made me skip that plan and use my natural transportation system.

 

Next day I had the plan to explore downtown and Chinatown starting with a ride of the famous cable cars. Seeing the price and the waiting line made me skip that plan and use my natural transportation system.

I really did like Chinatown, but as I was couch surfing in the Inner Richmond neighborhood, it lost a bit of it’s authentic flair for me.

Tip: Check out Chinatown, but beware, that it is meanwhile partly a tourist trap. Make your way to Inner Richmond area in between 2nd and 12th Avenue to get some authentic American-Chinese life and food.

Finally, I took my car, drove to Coit Tower, Lombard Street and Golden Gate Bridge View Point and explored the in my To-Do Tip mentioned Presidio. You might understand by the pictures why I set this as my tip.

 

Final Tip:  If you have a look on the Rail System Map, you will see the line “F” going to Fisherman’s Warp. It has historic trams from several cities all over the globe – you might have registered some already on my pictures above. As those trams can be full on lower market street and the pier area, take the metro to one of the first stops, like Church or Castro, take a good seat at a window on the right-hand side (the Piers are on that side) and enjoy the ride all the way to Fisherman’s Warp.

Please share your experiences, tips and tricks about San Francisco in the comment section to help others!

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