The City by the Bay

I finally had the opportunity to see a different city in the US. Our first trip as Mr & Mrs: San Francisco City.

First Impressions

Our first reaction when we stepped out of BART Embarcadero station: “Wow it’s clean here!”

The streets and train station don’t smell like pee. The tiled floors of the station don’t feel sticky. The train cars don’t have the lingering smell of a homeless person.

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Sorry, NYC, but SFO kicks your concrete butt on cleanliness. LOL!

The weather in the Bay Area is consistently windy. Sun was out, and without the wind we could stroll in our shorts and slippers. But we didn’t, coz when the wind picked up, we longed for our light down jackets which we left at home in barely-springtime NYC. And when you’re lucky like us you’d see and pass under the Golden Gate Bridge in all its foggy splendor (very windy but magical.)

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Going Around

NYC has MTA. San Francisco has MUNI. While MTA has trains and buses, Muni has trains, buses, trolleys and the historic cable cars. The San Francisco CityPASS includes a 7-day unlimited ride on Muni. Yes, that includes the cable cars. Muni makes going around the city easy. What made the commute difficult was the uphill climb that we had to do. Not all of the places we wanted to see were right beside the train station or the bus stop. It was a good thing we brought good footwear.

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The Sights

We spent five days going around San Francisco City, and I must say this city is pretty. I LOVE the Victorian or Victorian-inspired houses. You shouldn’t be surprised when I say that my favorite place in San Francisco City is the Alamo Square Park. There’s this row of colorful Victorian houses called The Painted Ladies that I admire a lot. I’m sure there are postcards with images of those houses. They’re just very pretty!

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Besides the Alamo Square Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a must-see. The Rainforests of the World was closed when we visited, but the Steinhart Aquarium was worth the trip. The Philippine Coral Reef Gallery is one of the deepest exhibits of live coral in the world. I could just sit there in front of the blue water, watching the schools of fish swim by. The gallery doesn’t only showcase the very diverse Philippine coral reef; it also brings awareness to the need for conserving and preserving our sea and its inhabitants. And we didn’t miss the Shake House in the Earthquake Exhibit. It simulates the two high-magnitude earthquakes that rocked San Francisco City in 1906 and 1989. After the simulation, I heard kids exclaim “That was so cool!” I thought: The people who lived here during that time certainly didn’t think it was.”

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They say the Palace of Fine Arts is a popular venue for photoshoots, and now I understand why. It is a very picturesque place. Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, the structural features has a lot of Greek and Roman influences. When we looked up the collonades, we noticed sculptures of women holding their heads in their hands as if in deep sorrow. They’re called the weeping women by Ulric Ellerhusen.

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The famous prison is less than thirty minutes away from the city. We enjoyed our visit there. We spent more than two hours taking pictures, and following an audio tour that gave us an in depth understanding of how life was in The Rock. What surprised me was the fact that children grew up there! It was a very informative trip for both of us. That’s one thing off my list.

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Another place that made an impression is the City of Sausalito in the Marin County. My cousin drove us there, so we got an up close encounter with the Golden Gate Bridge. I think Sausalito is a good place to retire. People don’t rush here, unlike in the big city. And the view is truly relaxing. I bet it’s a quiet city when the tourists finally leave and go back across the bridge. Haha!

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The Grub

We didn’t do a lot of exploring in terms of restaurants. Maybe on our next visit I’ll make a more gastronomic itinerary. But there were two things on my list that I said we have to try.

1) Irish coffee – What enticed me was the whiskey. At The Buena Vista, I paired it with molten chocolate cake. I love coffee and whiskey, but I realized that I didn’t like them together after all. It was a good experience, though. It was something I didn’t regret, but would have to think twice to repeat.

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2) Clam chowder – I was told to try any clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, but we didn’t have much time. I managed to taste the clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl in Boudin in Pier 39. The soup was okay. It was filling, but nothing remarkable. Maybe if we tried the ones from Fisherman’s Wharf I’d react differently. And I didn’t expect the bread to taste the way it did. I thought it would taste like Irish soda bread. But I must say the food presentation was good. I’d say fun! It’s not always that I get soup served in bread.

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This wasn’t on the list, but we found this dimsum place called Good Mong Kok Bakery in Chinatown. Their har gow, pork siu mai and steamed buns are delicious! It’s one of the best dimsum I’ve tried here in the US so far.

As so I say…

The City by the Bay is pretty and clean (except for the “tenderloin district”, they say. I don’t know where that is.) It’s easy to go around the city. I love the Victorian houses, and there are historical and fun (although might be a little geeky) things to do. The city has a lot of picturesque spots. And the view of the bay is SPECTACULAR.

Do I see us moving to San Francisco?

Maybe. But not anytime soon.

But not in the next ten years or so. 😉

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