WEEK 3: San Fran we're a Fan

Trip Start Jul 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Best Hotel & Union Square Backpackers
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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leaving the first-class metropolis of Singapore we flew up to Hong Kong for a brief 4hr stop-over. From here we jumped on the long-haul 12hr40min flight to San Fran with Singapore airlines: A welcome relief after flying dodgy, budget Air Asia airlines at the start of our trip. Hearty meals, comfy seats and enough on-demand movies and TV shows for 3 world trips!

We arrived at SFO at 8.30pm on Tuesday 16/9: two hours before we left strangely! The local time on the west coast of USA is 10.5hrs behind Adelaide time. Despite a long wait in the queue (and one of us a former crim) we were both granted entry to the country and proceeded to head to our hotel near downtown San Fran on the 'BART' underground.

Jumping off the train we were faced with drunks, beggars and skitzo’s: We realised our hotel was thick in the ‘Tenderloin’ district, one of the roughest in town, not to mention a foggy haze of weed smoke; a pungent smell we encountered at least 5-6 times during our stay!

Despite the colourful area our hotel was clean and safe and we spent the first 3 days battling jet lag and adjusting to the time zone. Over the week we didn’t venture out and see as much as we would have like due to being tired all the time and having to do lots of planning and bookings for the coming month in California.

In addition the weather was cool (17degC max), overcast and foggy most days. We really wanted to ride over the Golden Gate bridge but the fog was low the whole week and the majority of the bridge wasn’t visible (see pics). Also we were too late in booking our Alcatraz Island tour (books out 2 weeks in advance this time of year) which was disappointing.

We will be returning to San Fran at the end of our road trip in October and will do Alcatraz and Golden Gate then hopefully.

San Fran notes & highlights:

  • Spent 3 nights in our first backpackers hostel ‘Union Square Backpackers’: A cramped, dirty and expensive place ($70/night both of us). However, we met numerous awesome people at the hostel from New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and USA.
  • First morning we sat and had a coffee at a nice little coffee shop just above the dodgy district. Whilst kicking back we saw a domestic with some druggies across the street that almost became violent before the cops arrived: 3 squad cars with the first cop pulling a TASER on a suspect. It was like a live ‘Cops’ show, very entertaining!
  • Went to IHOP for a big breakfast and ate the greasiest deep fried bacon and had waffles for "breakfast dessert" – awesome!
  • On one of the few partially sunny days we went for a big hike and saw Lombard Street (steepest residential street in the world), and walked the length of the wharf. Had a beer with some locals and tried San Fran amber ale (very nice!).
  • We went for a beer at the ‘Zeitgeist’ in the Mission district: A lively underground bar thriving with alternative San Franites putting away many of the 40+ beers on tap. The bar is only recognisable from a symbol on the door, from the street it looks like an abandoned shop with boarded up windows
  • We were hassled so many times from homeless people and skitzo’s. The city has an abundance of homeless which at first is very confronting.
  • Received lots of advice and recommendations for our road trip from other travellers and the friendly locals at our hostel
Culinary Highlights:

  • Ultimate breakfast (deep fried bacon, sausages, eggs, hash browns plus waffles, syrup and cream) – IHOP
  • Spicy chicken pesto pizza – $5.50 + can of soda – local pizza bar
  • Famous beef burrito – $7 in the mission
  • Marinated chicken with fetta in a Turkish bread- A la Turca Turkish restaurant
  • Excellent coffees at La Tazza Cafe near our hostel - $3 for a 16oz (450ml) latte

Culinary Lowlights:

  • Drinking a 40oz Malt Liquor (a 1.2L ‘beer’ that bums drink) - $2.50 from a local liquor store. Tastes like stale dishwater!
  • 2 min noddles at the hostel – will be a staple food for us as we travel on the cheap!

Final Notes

We are both looking forward to hitting the road and seeing some nature after spending 2 weeks in busy concrete jungles. We have lots of amazing places and events planned in the coming weeks as we head south – Stay tuned!

Currently we are heading down the coast towards LA.
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