I am so terrible when it comes to writing up travel posts! I've been back home a couple of weeks now from my trip to San Francisco and my second trek america trip in Hawaii and I am sit yet to finish writing about it in my journal! Anyway, the plan was to fly out to San Francisco on the 30th June, after an incredibly early start travelling from Nottingham to London, going through check in and security checks, getting something to eat and finally boarding the plane we were delayed for around an hour as we waited to be able to take off. I am not a big fan of flying as it but waiting around felt exhausting as I was trying to work myself up for take off! Eventually we did, I settled down to watch a film was given my vegetarian meal which was yum, am I the only person who likes plane food? During the regular meals being given out I noticed something was wrong, all of the flight attendee's has been called to the back of the plane, a thousand things were running around in my brain at this point but I tried to remain calm, nothing too bad seemed to be happening that I was aware off. Then the pilot came onto speaker and informed us we would be returning back to Heathrow due to a mechanical issue fuel was leaking from the wing and causing a build up of condensation, I was sat right next to the wing so I could see where the fuel was leaking from, the whole plane let out disappointed sighs whereas I was thinking just hurry up and get us back down on the ground now! Thankfully we landed safely and was put up in accommodation for the night with a morning flight the next day, the downside, I had tickets booked for Alcatraz the same day we were meant to arrive in San Francisco so we ended up missing our reservation, extremely disappointing since going to Alcatraz has been something I've wanted to do forever but there is my excuse to visit again! Oh and I also enjoyed having a hotel room to myself.
Second time lucky, I guess the passengers felt like a 'family' who had all gone through this experience together (as lame as that sounds) with greetings exchanged, stories told etc. It was nice that something like this actually encouraged people to engage in conversation with complete strangers. The flight ran smoothly this time around complete with beautiful shots of a snow covered Greenland, lots of films, sleep and food. Although when we arrived in America my Dad got stopped in customs, we sat for half an hour before being told we could go with no explanation as to why we were stopped.
So what were my first impressions of San Francisco as I sat in our cab to the hotel, my mind was ingrained with images from tv and films, the golden gate bridge, pizza shops, steep streets, clean and expensive but once you get there and drive around you notice the flaws and cracks in San Francisco's appearance. Homelessness is a big problem here, I saw so many people sleeping on the streets in the space of five minutes then I have ever encountered anywhere else, I saw police gathered round, an ambulance performing CPR on what appeared to be a homeless man on his back, arms sprawled out on the middle of the street. It was quite sad and shocking really, our taxi driver warned us to stay away from the area due to homeless people and lots of theft.
We stayed in the Hilton hotel union square which claims to be the biggest hotel on the West Coast, which is believable this hotel is HUGE. The hotel room was nice which was expected, although I will forever have a problem with American toilets, why is it they put a door on a private space yet in public spaces have gaps large enough to see through and in hotel rooms they have clouded glass that can be seen through? Once freshened up we set out to explore, map in hand I actually managed to read it successfully to find all the places we went looking for, proud moment.
One thing America does is big, it is such a huge difference coming from England and seeing all these towering building and wide streets, I am pretty sure the whole of the Midlands could fit inside San Francisco. It's quite annoying knowing that this was meant to be our free day in San Francisco and we wouldn't be able to complete all of the things we had planned, so we tried to do as much as possible in the small time frame we had. We also ended up walking pass the Alcatraz port on our way to Pier 39, sob. I guess being able to see Alcatraz from SF made it a little bit better.
Pier 39 is a popular tourist attraction, filled with scents of fish, candyfloss, popcorn, chocolate it sent my taste bud into overdrive, it was divine. The main reason why I wanted to come here? The sea lions of course! The sea lions first came to pier 39 in 1989 and by January 1990 had completely took over the K-dock, there was only a handful of sea lions here when I went, in June/July most of the sea lions head south to breeding grounds. I was just so happy to see a few with the one at the front hogging all of the spotlight whilst the others cuddled on a platform further back (although the next day this guy had a friend with him.) Overhead there was so many Pelicans with the flock growing bigger and bigger every time they flew overhead, my animal lover side was so excited!
We ate at a place called players sports grill and arcade, which of course played sports but is also filled up with many arcade games. I opted for the garden burger which was so good with pepper jack cheese, avocado on the side complete with garlic fries (the best thing ever for garlic lovers.) The atmosphere on pier 39 is incredible like a non stop outside festival, we wandered around a few shops including the Houdini magic shop and watched a few tricks being performed, as well as finding myself in a shop called Chocolate heaven (and it was) I wanted to eat everything. It was magical.
One thing I instantly think of when I think of San Francisco is the crooked street on Lombard street which has eight hair pin turns, surprisingly when I told my parents we have to find this street they had no idea what I was talking about. It did take a while to find but it was worth the walk and the walk up the steep hill to get to it! The crooked street was built in 1922 as a method to help reduce the hills natural grade which was too steep for most cars to travel down, it is recommended to drive through the crooked street at a maximum of 5mph. The hydrangea was in full bloom, the road was made from brick, at the top were incredible views of the city, it is a whimsical place. I can imagine the people who live on the houses that align the street have grown tired of endless tourists outside their homes but if you are in San Francisco it is well worth a visit.
Feeling sleepy with the jet lag finally hitting us we headed back to the hotel, climbed into bed and fell fast asleep.