3 days in San Francisco California

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Alcatraz prison america island


“You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is privilege.” – Institution rules & regulations of Alcatraz prison. Visiting Alcatraz prison and cycling the Golden Gate bridge to watch a beautiful sunset on the Sausalito side.

Arrival

Mid December, it is dark outside and no more than 10 C degrees ‘warm’ and we are landing in San Francisco. And this is the start of our Californian road trip.

On arrival to San Francisco we took an Uber to our Airbnb in South Hayward. We decided to stay outside of San Fran to check out the convenience of the public transport (being hopeful here) and as it was a lot cheaper than the bay area.
We knew that traffic and parking was not ideal so we spent three days in San Francisco using public transport before renting a car for the road trip.

In central San Fran we found that the easiest and cheapest way is to use #uberbike. They charge you $2 at the start of your trip for the first 30 minutes and $0.07 for every minute after. Plus they are powered, so going up hill is a breeze!

We were riding on the streets of San Francisco and felt safe – a lot of places have designed bike lanes and the drivers generally let the cyclists pass first, which is super nice!! The only issue we had were the lights on Uber bikes. They aren’t bright enough to eliminate the road in front at night. If you are cycling somewhere without street lights be really careful…

We only spent 3 days in San Francisco, but we really enjoyed our time there. I would surely come back to San Francisco when the next opportunity comes. We got to see and do quite a few interesting things; below is my own list (in no particular order): 

✅Cycle through the Golden Gate Bridge and watch sunset from the one of the viewpoints on the other side;
✅Go back in time by visiting Alcatraz;
✅Visit Pier 39 for some seal watching;
✅Try the famous and delicious clam chowder in bread bowl;
✅Take a picture with the Painted Ladies;
✅Check out the cool llama painting next to the painted ladies;
✅Enjoy the view from the top of the famous zigzag Lombard street;
✅Get some matcha deliciousness at @matchacafemaiko ;
✅Prepare your own dinner at a local Shabu-Shabu restaurant in Japan town
✅Just walk around on the streets of San Francisco and listen to the talented street musicians.

Two of my favourite activities were visiting Alcatraz and taking a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge and.

San Francisco TIP: Stay in the city centre. It’s widely known that the majority drives in the US and there is a good reason for that – public transport is unreliable and expensive. There was no clear timetable for the busses – they would go every 40 mins or so, but not according to the official timetable or google maps. The trains were better, but busy and expensive. All in all we would pay $17 per person for return journey from Hayward to San Francisco, plus it took over an hour one way.

Alcatraz visit

Alcatraz prison america island

As a subject of many books and movies, Alcatraz prison represents America’s dark side. This island in the heart of San Francisco Bay has been used as a fort, a lighthouse and a prison. Today it is one of the national parks at the Golden Gate, which can only be accessed by sea.

We took a boat from Pier 33 on a foggy Monday morning. On arrival there was a short briefing by one of the rangers and we proceeded to the cell house, where audio guides were offered. The voices in the audio guides really help to create this mystery atmosphere and you can’t help to imagine how it was like to be a prisoner on Alcatraz surviving in these tough conditions.

After the tour we walked around the island enjoying the views of San Francisco business district and the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoying the sun that made an appearance and listening to the birds sing. 

Alcatraz TIP: Book early. We have been recommended the night tour, but they were all sold out a week ahead. Day tour we booked at the ticket office only a day in advance (keep in mind it was beginning of December we visited).

Leave early if you are staying outside of the main city and try not to be late to your tour, however even though the ticket says you will not be able to take your tour if you arrive in less than 30 minutes before the start, we arrived only 5 minutes before the official start time and did not have a problem.

Golden Gate bridge

Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol of and a must see in San Francisco. What makes the Golden Gate Bridge so special?

It took over four years to build the bridge, but when the construction was finished in 1937, it became the longest (1,280 metres) suspended bridge span in the world, until New York City’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge was opened in 1964. The total length of the bridge is 2,737 metres, and the hight – 230.

One of my favourite things to do in San Francisco was to cycle through the Golden Gate Bridge on one of these Uber bikes and watch sunset from the one of the viewpoints on the other side.

The cycling was very enjoyable as there were designated bike lanes around and on the bridge itself. Also, crossing it by foot or bike is free, but for the car you’ll have to make an advance payment online.

Golden Gate bridge TIP: I recommend going to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point platform, as the views to the sunset and the bridge from there are amazing.

By Elina Vinni from @travellingelli

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