Cities · TRAVEL

Scintillating San Francisco!!

I was always fascinated by California. I have my childhood friends living there and have heard some great stories about few great cities and places in California. Visiting California was always lingering in my mind.  On November 16th, evening, after work, we boarded the flight to California.

November 16th, 2013, Saturday: Early morning we checked out of our hotel in San Jose after having complimentary continental breakfast. Having downloaded the uber app, registered with my credit card on my iphone, I booked a cab, which arrived in just 7 minutes! It was the first time that I used “uber” app and I will swear by it! We boarded the cab and answered “Golden Gate Bridge” when the chauffeur enquired about our destination.

Google’s self-driving “Robotic Car”

En route to “Golden gate bridge”, we spotted Google’s self-driving “Robotic car”. I was overjoyed and this is where my awesome in-built camera on iphone5s came handy!! 😉

It was an hour drive from San Jose to Golden Gate bridge. Our driver dropped us off at “south vista point” on Golden Gate bridge because, parking isn’t allowed on “north vista point”. Since “uber” is prepaid service, we thanked our chauffeur and began our wonderful San Francisco journey.

We had to visit most of the places on just Saturday, because we were departing back to our hometown via Sunday’s 12:40 pm flight. It was a very tight schedule and we had to utilize it to the optimum.

Here are the list of places which we successfully visited on just one day:

Golden Gate Bridge
“Golden Gate Bridge” as seen from North Vista Point

1) “Golden Gate Bridge”: It was a very cold and windy morning. We stood at “south vista point” of the bridge and snapped few pictures with bridge as the background. View was picturesque with ocean on the left and bridge on the right. We started to walk on the bridge, enjoying the scenic beauty and the weather. Cold winds blowing on your face, messing with your hair; speeding vehicles honking mercilessly; awesome weather; taking few pit-stops to capture pictures; everything was so splendid! It took us 30 minutes to walk leisurely from “south vista point” to “north vista point”. We decided to cruise under the bridge. After enquiring, we were told that bay cruises start from Pier39, so we decided to go to Pier 39!

2) “Pier 39”: At the north vista point of the bridge, we embarked the “hop on hop off city tour” bus from “sightseeing company”. It is really worth $70 per person and is valid for 48 hours from the time of purchase. They have a list of 14 stops including Pier39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square; etc. which they cover in their route. Details will be mentioned in their broucher when they hand over your tickets. The bus took us on an wonderful journey in the woods, lombard street, and various other streets in San Francisco and finally reached Pier 39.

Pier 39 was crowded. We walked around for sometime there, snapping few pictures.

Bay Cruise
Bay Cruise

3) “Bay Cruise” – At Pier 39, we bought “Bay Cruise” tickets to cruise under the bridge. Tickets are $28 per person. Bay cruise takes you on an hour long journey on the bay, under the bridge. We seated ourselves at the top deck, despite chilly weather, thereby enjoying the oceanic view. En route, the captain was telling the stories of places over the public announcement system. Everyone on the cruise was overjoyed and were frantically capturing pictures.

Finally, we started cruising under the “Golden Gate bridge”. It was stupendous! We could see the bridge up-close and clear. It was humongous and extended over a wide span. The cruise spent some time under the bridge allowing the passengers to get a good glimpse of it. On our way back to Pier 39, we also saw Alcatraz – the prison where inmates were housed in hostile conditions. My heart ached to hear the stories of bereavement that they went through in prison.

We reached Pier 39 after an hour of amazing cruise journey.

4) “Ghirardelli Square”:  Are you a “Ghirardelli” connoisseur ? If your answer is yes, then, you should definitely visit “Ghirardelli Square”! We entered Ghirardelli market place and it was “chocolate goldmine”! An Asian lady stood at the entrance, handing over free chocolates for sampling. We saw different varieties and flavors of chocolates everywhere! There was a long beeline of Ghirardelli connoisseurs waiting to check out/order ice cream at that store. My only complaint is both check out and ordering were done at the same queue, which was delaying the entire process. I wanted to try a sundae there, but unfortunately couldn’t because of the queue and we were running out of time and had to be back in Pier 39 within 30 minutes to board the last sightseeing bus to Union Square.

Animal shaped Sourdoughs at Boudin Bakery
Animal shaped Sourdoughs at Boudin Bakery

5) “Boudin Bakery at Fisherman’s Wharf“- We strolled in Fisherman’s wharf for sometime. If you love sea food, that’s definitely a place for you.  But being vegetarians, we couldn’t stand that sea food smell which eroded our nostrils.(no offense)

We came across “Boudin sourdough Bakery & Cafe” and saw a huge crowd flocked at glass window, watching the chefs making “animal” shaped sourdoughs. Few were displayed by the window. Some people were capturing pictures, others videos. We stood there for sometime and were awestruck to see her make a “teddy bear” shaped sourdough. After she was done, she displayed it to us through the glass window. There are speakers installed on the window, which enables us to hear the chef and vice versa. Giving her a thumbs up, I captured pictures of her creative art.

Union Square
Union Square

6) “Union Square” – The last “sightseeing bus” was at 5pm, so we rushed to Pier 39 to board the bus to our last destination: “Union Square”. En route to “Union Square”, the bus driver told us interesting stories about various streets like Italian town, China Town, Lombard street, etc. Interestingly, all the electric poles in “Italian town” had “Italian” flag painted on them. “Chinatown” reminded me of the way departmental stores, restaurants, grocery stores were housed in Bangalore, India.

We had a nap for an hour, after the tiresome day, while waiting for my engineering friend and her husband to meet us They drove all the way from Sunnyvale for an hour, just to meet us for dinner. We had dinner at “Chaat Cafe”. Food was really good.

On Sunday, we waited for uber cab to go to mountain view. My childhood friend had invited us for breakfast at her place. We reached her house in an hour and it was a great reunion. We relished the delicious breakfast which she had prepared and stayed there for 2 hours, reminiscing our childhood memories.

San Francisco trip was scintillating!! Even though it was a one day trip, we made the best out of it and visited all the prime locations. I have no complaints. I was totally awestruck by what SFO could offer us!



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