Hi everyone! Welcome to our full day in San Francisco, where we hit up Alcatraz and other fun touristy sights.
I have only been to San Francisco one time for a few days about ten years ago or so. From experiencing farm to table restaurants in Marin County, to crazy fun city pubs and all the historic sight seeing, I fell in love with the city’s diverse and eclectic feel right away; and I have always wanted to make it back. My husband has been so many times over the past twenty years he should have honorary residency there. 😂
We woke up early to bright skies. I know, sunny start in San Francisco, what?! We got truly lucky with the weather while there. Our plans for the day were to adventure as tourists, i.e. trolley ride, walk Chinatown, Alcatraz, walk the waterfront/piers, hang out on Pier39, etc.. Then we had plans to meet up with friends for dinner and hang out in Ghirardelli Square for ice cream and shopping.
First up on our itinerary was to take the girls on a proper trolley ride to Chinatown. We planned on picking up a cable car from the Powell/Mason Cable Car Turnaround, which was a few blocks away from our hotel. The trolley turnaround is a fun experience, at least I loved it when I watched it years ago. The trolley operators take the cable car to the end of the line, then jump out of the car to push it onto a wooden platform turntable, because the trolleys can’t travel backwards. So they are literally repositioning the car to face the opposite direction. It harkens back to a day when man power was a literal term. Must watch.
We weren’t sure what we would find at the turnaround because the trolleys had been shut down for a year, through all of the covid19 lockdowns, and they just recently opened their services up before we arrived in town. We were happy to find a trolley making its way to the turn without a line of patrons as we walked over. AND we were happy to learn that the trolley rides all day were free! So we were able to get the girls to hop right onto the outer seating without delay. We made our way over a few giant hills as we near-miss buzzed by other cable cars full of folks waving; the girls loved the ride so much! We jumped off to make our way towards Chinatown, just to talk a handful of blocks before making our way back down to the wharf for the boat to Alcatraz. The sounds, smells and sights in Chinatown are the best to peak curiosity. Love every major city’s Chinatown, or any of the immigrant made neighborhoods. California has some of the best East Asian neighborhoods in all of the USA.
After an hour or so of browsing shops and walking the streets, we made our way down to the wharf, Pier 33, to catch our boat for Alcatraz. We had reservations but had to arrive at least a half hour before and we were pretty far from the gate. Walking San Francisco is such an entertaining thing to do… between people watching and the actual sights, it makes time fly by!
This was our first visit to Alcatraz, something my husband has been wanting to see but we never had the right opportunity till this trip. It blew my mind, the whole island. My thoughts wore so heavy on the inmates after walking the cell house, but then more so on those who had to live there to work, or live there because their spouses worked on the island as we saw their apartment building. The conditions of the cells probably weren’t all that different from when they were being used. So dank, small and dirty. With San Francisco right across the bay… so close yet unattainable. We went to an exhibition on the indigenous native American protests, which was SUPER cool to read about and see artifacts in person…deflating too; reading about the native inmates maltreatment. So messed up!
After we left Alcatraz, we walked to Pier 39. We grabbed a quick lunch then walked through all of the shops as we made our way to the back deck to see the sea lions. The back, well side, of Pier 39 is home to the sea lions of the area. They have taken over the docks for sunning and are a main show of nature. We spent a ridiculous amount of time watching these chubby guys plop up on the docks, fighting and knocking off others for their patch of ‘land’.
We then walked further down the wharf over to the Musèe Mechanique; the mechanical museum. This was a spot that my husband and I loved a tremendous amount when we were in San Francisco together during my first visit. The whole space is a kind of carnival atmosphere with hundreds of old timey arcade machines and vintage game artifacts, some super cool and some super frightening 😛. After an hour or so of spending all of our money, and having many belly laughs, we made our way to walk to the hotel to rest up and get dolled up for dinner.
We ended the night meeting up with friends at Barrio, a Latin restaurant right inside Ghirardelli Square. I didn’t take many photos of our evening because I got carried away talking and being utterly enchanted in conversation. Plus, the girls ran to grab sundaes inside Ghirardelli’s before it closed so I wasn’t even thinking about pictures.
So I guess sharing my day -of photos- ends here. 😊
There’s so many more days to catch you up on from this trip, guys, and I am trying my best to carve out time to post them all. Thank you for reading along! I always do appreciate your support taking time out to read along.
If you have been to Alcatraz, or anywhere in San Francisco, please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments!
Till next time. xo