My favorite city is Paris, France. My second favorite city is San Francisco, California. I first visited here in my early 20’s. My last trip was last spring. My next trip will be this spring!!! What can I say about San Francisco other than I think it is an awesome city. The people are amazing, much better than their counterparts here in Los Angeles. The landscaping is beautiful; I love the architecture of the Victorian style buildings especially. I love the San Francisco Bay with all the boats, views of Alcatraz, views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the cities of Marin County just across the bay.
One last mention of something I love about this city, it has great public transportation. You can take the city bus, the cable car, the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, a subway), the MUNI Metro which goes to outlying neighborhoods, and the MUNI F line –historic street cars are great (they have electric street cars from around the world that are way cool). Transportation passes are available for any combination of the above except the cable car.
The first time I visited San Francisco it was just for the day. We took a tour of the city. If you are in here for just a day I highly recommend going to Pier 39 and signing up for any type of tour of the city. They are a great way to orient you to the city. There are so many neighborhoods to explore and after glimpsing at some of the more popular ones on a tour you can go back on your own to explore more.
I am a big fan of North Beach, which is home to the Italian community in San Francisco. My fascination may partly be due to the fact that Max is 100% Italian. It is especially fun to go here with him since he connects to his roots in North Beach. There are many restaurants, an authentic Italian market/deli, and great coffee shops. We stayed at the “Hotel Boheme” in North Beach when I was pregnant with Malina and Max was as happy as can be. Waking up he could walk out and have a good espresso (there are not too many good espressos in Los Angeles) and a pastry for breakfast starting the day off on a good note. The nightlife in this neighborhood used to be a lot of fun too, at least it was when I was in my 20’s.
Walking through Chinatown in San Francisco is a must too. You can pick up cheap souvenirs here instead of overpriced over at Pier 39. Starting on Grant Street you can walk through the gates of Chinatown, and if you’d like before entering into the world of China you can stop at the French restaurant “Café de la Presse” for a drink and some international reading. Dining in Chinatown is fun too. I used to go off the beaten path to “The Pot Sticker” which specializes in the dish along with other yummy entrees. Another time a group of us ventured to a guide book recommendation and asked the waiter to order our food and we were served a meal of Chinese delights which was incredible. Families can stop and play at the Chinese themed playground in Portsmouth Square, and you just might catch some of the locals doing morning Tai Chi.
Since I like to keep my blog short I will only mention one more spot to go today, downtown San Francisco. I love the skyscrapers and the business district going along Montgomery Street. Many of the world’s best stores and department stores are located downtown as well as great boutiques. Union Square is a great spot to take a break and people watch, and from there you can walk down the street to catch a cable car at the turn around back to the other side of town. Please note that the longest line for the cable would be here.
I will continue this topic tomorrow with more places for a first time visitor. On a later blog I will have a local blog about more places to visit ‘off the beaten path’.