We’ve been looking forward to seeing San Francisco and it lived up to its billing. As much fun as being there was using the excellent bay area public transportation systems for the entire trip. After driving through morning traffic to San Jose we paid $5.00 to park in the SAP center then walk the short distance to the Caltrain station where we paid the $18 senior San Francisco round trip fee. We rode in a nice commuter very full of people and families, hearing lots of chatter going on around us. I noticed that the seats with tables are very popular and then realized those seats have electric plug-ins available, very nice for those using electronics. Although we stopped at every town along the way I enjoyed the view; seeing the homes, businesses, and some lovely train depots that have been there for many years. Upon arriving we bought day passes on the San Francisco MUNI.
We took the street cars from the Caltrain station to Fisherman’s Wharf. There are many restaurants, shops, and street performers. We walked along the boardwalk and looked over the bay. We could see nearby Alcatraz, ships and boats of every kind, and The Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. It’s an awesome place! Pier 43 is the National Liberty ship Memorial. We walked past saw the USS Pampanito, a WW II fleet submarine, and the SS Jeremiah O’Brian which is one of the last remaining WWII Liberty Ships.
We toured the National Park Service’s San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park Museum. It has lots of memorabilia from historic San Francisco dating from the early Native American inhabitants up through the 1800s. There are several dioramas, films, and audio stories of the early settlers. Hyde street pier, which is part of the park, contains Historic Ferries and vessels including a square rigger sailing ship. Walking toward Ghirardelli Square we saw the Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District where people were sunning on the beach and swimming in the bay.
Although they no longer make the chocolate here nearby Ghirardelli Square has a variety of shops and restaurants along with several Ghirardelli Chocolate shops. The Ghirardelli shops sell their chocolate as well as dipped ice cream and coffee to drink now and buy for later.
We headed back to the Powell-Hyde cable car where we waited between 15-30 minutes to get on. We were lucky enough to be allowed to stand on the back with the driver and see the view as we went up. It’s an amazing ride that I would do again. We got off at Union Square where you can find Macy’s and similar shops and then caught a bus and rode through China Town where we walked a little and got some lunch. It’s an interesting area with open front stores selling a variety of Asian foods as well as items for tourists.
After another short bus ride we walked up an extremely steep hill to the bottom of the very crooked and steep Lombard Street, nicknamed the “Crookedest Street in the World” and spent a few minutes watching cars turn and twist their way down.
We then took a couple of buses to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was considerably cooler there with wind and a foggy mist coming in. The bridge is an amazing structure and you can read about the history and construction in park right beside it. I was very pleased to know that the Golden Gate Park is under the care of National Park Service with rangers ready to help you with information about the park. From there we began our trip clear across town back to the Caltrain station, taking the bus and then a streetcar/subway. It was supper time and we stopped to eat. Once we got back to the train station we saw that there is a Panera Bread restaurant right beside the Caltrain and wished we had waited and gotten sandwiches to eat on the train. The train we caught was an evening train which was about full but emptied out as we continued the hour and a half to San Jose.
All in all it was a very enjoyable and tiring day. Some may prefer doing the more costly on/off bus tours around the city, especially for a one day visit. Really, with so much to see, a person could spend several days in San Francisco and not see it all.