The flight from Fiji to San Francisco was really weird as we crossed the date line so we arrived before we actually took off!! The joys of living the same day twice!! We had a crazy hippy taxi driver who took us to our hostel, it was pretty ironic as we were in california!! We had booked into The Adelaide Hostel and Hotel, but when we arrived we discovered that all the private rooms were in the neighbouring Dakota Hotel. The hotel is pretty cool as it has the old style lifts with two sliding doors. Our room is more like an apartment with 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. We were so knackered so we headed to the closeby Lori's diner for some quick, easy food. It was a really cool place with everything you would expect to see in a 50s diner - Jukebox, booths, shiny car etc.
We managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time for our free breakfast which was definately worth it. There was so much to choose from - bages, toast, muffins and scones with all flavours of jam, chocolate spread and peanut butter. We will definately make sure that we get our fill off breakfasts!!! One block from our hostel was Union Square which we explored on our first day. It ad Macy's and Bloomingdales' as well as a huge Levi's store. We then discovered Market Street with its numerous shops. We did some window shopping in all the amazing and different US shops. If only we could do some real shopping!!! We had slight panic over the lack of supermarkets around SF. Where does everyone get their food from?? We ended up stocking up on Mac and Cheese for the rest of the week!!
The next day we explored the Financial District where we saw a huge difference in the people in their smart suits, compared to the homeless people 2 blocks away. Sam went to Notre Dame Des Victores which is the French Catholic church nearby. It was completely different to our churches, with its elaborate and ornate decorations. We then wandered through Chinatown, which we decided is definitely the best one we have been to so far. It was full of little shops, restaurants and bakeries.
The next day we set off on the Cable Car to Lombard street, the steepest street in SF. On the way there our car had a problem as it could not grip onto the cable. We had to be pushed up 2 hills by a huge truck before it started to grip as we went downhill. We decided to just walk down Lombard street, ait was great with the windy road bordered with box hedges and flowers. It was exactly like we had seen in pictures. We had fun choosing which house we would like to live in - maybe someday!! From there we walked along the waterfront towards Pier 39. it is very touristy with lots of shops and eateries, great if you have lots of money to spend!! We did manage to all make one purchase - we got college jumpers with our money off vouchers, so we all were smiling over our purchases!! They came in very handy with the San Francisco wind later in the week!!! We visited the Sealions who live by Pier 39. They were chilling out in the sun. We walked back via Fishermans Wharf which assaulted us with unbelievable smells of fresh seafood and italian restaurants, but this didn't quite persuade us to stay. After all we had our Mac and Cheese to look forward to!! We tried to get the Cable Car back to Union Square, but there was a problem further up the line. Instead we took the bus, not quite as fun!!
On Thursday we headed to North Beach, the Italian quarter of the city. Again we were very upset not to be eating there!! After wandering around we headed to the Civic Centre. This is the administrative buildings that are set in tree lined roads. From there we headed to Levi Plaza where we sat enjoying the sun, and listening to the nearby stream. We then met Charlotte after she had finished work. She took us on a walking tour of the bay. We walked along the pier fronts to the beach, then up and over the hill to the Marina, where there was amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. We then visited The Palace of Fine Arts, which survived the big earthquake. It has huge columns holding a domed ceiling and is next to a lake, it looks stunning. We finished off our three mile walk at Chestnut Street where Charlotte treated us to the most delicious food. Which was very much appreciated! The bus journey home was very eventful when sparks started flying off the bus. It turns out that the bus had become unattached to the overhead wires, no worries though as the driver fixed it easily.
The next day we got the bus to Ocean Beach where it was very windy. To get out of the wind we headed into the Golden Gate Park, which has lots of interesting things to see. We ambled along Kennedy Drive stopping to look at the Bisons, Stow Lake and the guys playing footie. We also paused to chill out ourselves and read our books in the sun. From the park we went to Haight Street, the main area where the hippies started. There were lots of cafes, quirky little shops and vintage clothes places which were fun to look around and would have been even better with full wallets at hand!
Our final day in SF was very busy. We started off by hiking up to Charlottes apartment, which we instantly feel in love with. From there the 4 of us headed to The Misson where there was meant to be a Brass Band Festival Parade in Delores Park. We didn't find the parade but decided to chill out in the park for a bit. Just then 2 bands, one small brass band and a steel drum band, had a play-off right next to where we sat. They then started improvising together, it was such fun to see and the music was great to listen too. We then waited about an hour for the bus before giving up and getting a cab over to 5th and Howard where there was an Asian Heritage Festival happening. The street was filled with lots of stalls to look at and there was boxing and music going on. We had some delicious chicken kebabs in french bread. After looking around we headed back to Charlotte to have a quick relax. We then set off to Washington Square in North Beach. We stopped at Chinatown, for some Chinese pastries, and North Beach, for a pizza, before settling in the square. The San Francisco Film Society were showing The Graduate in the park that night. There was a huge number of people all with blankets and picnics ready to enjoy the show. We met a few of Charlotte's friends there before settling down for the film. It got really cold, but the four of us lasted the whole film. Next time we'll take more blankets!! We made a mad dash back to the hostel after a really great evening. We had an amzing time in SF, it's such a fab city. We were so lucky that Charlotte could show us around, one of the reasons we got to see so much of it.
Final note - Lau has got what we think are bed bugs from the last night in SF. Very itchy and she doesn't think she's getting enough sympathy!!