San Francisco in Photos

San Francisco in Photos

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During our time in the Bay Area, we were lucky* enough to borrow a car from a friend N.’s sister knows, thanks friend!  No need to figure out the bus situation or keep lose change in our pockets (which is actually a big help considering my bags are always overpacked and too heavy for my petite frame) – my fault for buying large bags in the first place.  With this, we had no limits as to what we could do, where we could go, and how often we could return.
1) We of course visited the Painted Ladies, the iconic Victorian houses, at 710–720 Steiner Street.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch in Alamo Square Park, which most easily has the best view of postcard row.  The architectural details of these houses were really enhanced by the different paint colors found on each.  This block appears very frequently in the media, shown for an estimate of 70 movies, TV programs, and ads altogether.  Anyone remember the opening credits of Full House?  Yup, these are them!  Being the ultimate MaryKate and Ashely Olsen fan when I was much younger, I was exceptionally pleased to see that these victorian houses do indeed exist!
2) I am so glad that we got a locals’ advice to drive up to Twin Peaks, as we ended up driving the long and twisty road uphill twice!  Once at night, and once during the day.  Totally different experiences, as one would expect. With an elevation of about 922 feet, they are the second highest points in the city, offering a nearly 360 degree view of the city.  Twin Peaks Boulevard runs a figure eight around the two, as you can see in the photos.
 

On our first experience, at night, we were greeted with an entire city of lights shining brightly in the near distance, along with the golden gate bridge lit up.  It was unfortunately very hard to photograph, as I was unsure how to adjust my camera settings appropriately.  I would highly suggest this, although the windy road can be really tricky, which we experienced first hand.  It was rather scary to drive in and up through the hills, considering the very few street lights, secretly praying in my head that we wouldn’t make a wrong turn and fall off the cliff.  Bring a sweatshirt.   It’s absolutely freezing up there in the winter.


Thankfully it was not a foggy day so we had a very good view of the city.  I could not believe how different the same exact spot looked during the day- the views were captivating.  There was not much to do up there besides act silly and take some pictures, although it does seem like a nice spot to take your significant other.


3) If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, you have definitely driven down Lombard Street, or at least heard of it.  Being the crookedest (most winding) street in the world, it is a tourists dream.  Despite the super slow speed limit of 5mph, the views of the bay and Coit Tower are great, with the gorgeous expensive homes on both sides of you.  After we drove down, we were luckily able to find parking rather easily, and took some photos staring up at the kinky road ahead of us from down below.

“It’s wacky.
It’s silly.
It’s a squiggle on a map.

It’s a totally kooky, unique, and quirky street.” – Emily T.

It most definitely symbolizes all that San Francisco is.

We actually ended up here twice, since the original photos were somehow lost/deleted from our memory card.  And if you don’t know me by now, you now know just how precious these are to me.  So we had to drive down the crookedest street in the world twice, big deal- things could be worse (like losing ALL of our photos!)

4) I loved this giant heart found in the middle of Union Square. I later learned what it represents: San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (SFGHF) takes part in an annual public art exhibition that raises funds to support life-enhancing programs at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.  Pretty cool, huh?  All the funds raised by the hearts (there are 12 in total, which have raised approx. $7 million) support vital programs at the hospital.  Always love when the art community and healthcare systems team up!
5) The 2 lonely sea lions at Pier 39 sure did disappoint, since I was expecting to see hundreds of them piled up on the docks.  I was actually really confused and insisted we weren’t at the right docks- you should have seen my expression when I found out I was wrong.  With one sleeping, the other was putting on a one-man show, which wasn’t too impressive. Snapped a quick picture, and moved on. 
6) After the mishap with the sea lions, Ghirardelli Square was sure to put a smile on my face.  We indulged in a peanut butter sundae and a large hot chocolate (marshmallows included) at the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop.  While the ice cream was deliciously dangerous, I couldn’t stop raving about the classic hot chocolate.  So perfect to get on a chilly day when it’s just too cold for ice cream.  It was obviously crowded and ridiculously overpriced, but where else it is ok to eat your body weight in chocolate, ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge?
 
7) Sure, we’ve been to The Cheesecake Factory dozens of times back at home in NY, but eating dinner and cheesecake on the rooftop?  Definitely have never done that back home.  The views provide a unique and breathtaking look out onto Union Square and the park, especially at night on the balcony (where we were!)  Food was good, cheesecake was great.  Service was ok, and the wait was super long.  Most likely not coming back next time we are in the area.

*We came home to a $450 red light ticket issued by the State of California, so I’m not too sure I would technically call us lucky.  Things got really confusing since we weren’t the owners of the car, and had to get the ticket somehow transferred over to our names.  Still not entirely sure of how it all panned out, heres to hoping that California still welcomes us with open arms…

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