Alamo Square, Alcatraz, Alcatraz tours, bbq ribs, bodeans, Bridesmaids, carrot cake cheesecake, Chocolate almonds, Dogpatch, Golden Gate Bridge, Haight, Hi International San Francisco, juniors cheesecake, New Orleans Coffee, New York Chocolate fudge cheesecake, Oreo cheesecake, pier 39, Portland, Ramen, reeces pieces peanut butter cheesecake, San Francisco piers, Smokestack, southern american food, The Cheesecake Factory, Times Square, Travelling through San Francisco, Union Square, vintage shops
Next stop on our trip was San Francisco. I know Craig was secretly dreading it because he loved Las Vegas so much and wanted to stay in the heat but I was super excited to be going as had heard so many great things about it. We arrived around 6p.m and luckily our hostel wasn’t too far from the station. We did go around in circles a little bit before getting there but we made it in the end. Our hostel, Hi International, was located on Mason Street, therefore a good spot for getting around. We had booked a private room and when we saw the room it was a really small room with a double bed and then a bed on top. I could just see Craig’s face drop as we had gone form having two double beds and a bathroom to a small kind of dingy room for the same price. I’m quite used to hostels so didn’t mind too much but yes it wasn’t quite as fancy. We both thought the bed on top was pretty funny plus there were bars at the end of the bed so Craig was too tall for it!
We had a quick look around the hostel and then decided to head out and check what was around us. Craig had looked up a bbq place for dinner, located in Dogpatch which had amazing reviews so we decided to head there. It was a little out from where we were and when we did get to the stop there wasn’t much else around so we wondered if we had come to the right place however all was well because we were on track. It’s funny around that area because you will have five houses in a row then a bar or a restaurant and then the same thing again.
Smokestack was decked out beautiful, with a bar on one side (with a ladder to reach up to the highest spirit- think Beauty and the Beast book store with alcohol) and a butchery food section on the right. It was very hipstery and had a great soul sountrrack which gave it a really chiled out vibe. We’re both huge fans of Bodeans back home and the menu seemed a bit similar however as we were in America we thought it had to beat Bodeans. Turns out we were quite disappointed. The food was nice but it was extremely overpriced for what it was. The menu was on the board with the options and prices where you can choose between brisket, bbq chicken, ribs and more. Craig asked for the ribs which on the board came to $14 therefore we assumed that was probably the main part of the meal and then you just order sides however the order is done in weight so when our server put the weighted ribs on his plate it looked so little it would not be a meal alone. Therefore you end up ordering lots of bits of each but it’s hard to judge how much it costs. Before we knew it we had paid $80 between us for not that much meat and a few sides.
I ordered brisket which was extremely fatty and pork (very nice and shouldve got more of!) and Craig’s ribs had barely any meat on them. The beans were delicious but overall it was a lovely bar with a good vibe but the food was far too expensive and we both prefered Bodeans!
The next day we had our tickets booked for Alcatraz so we spent the morning with a stroll down to the pier and walked all along it. It was really lovely, the sun was out, however it was so windy down by the waterfront. Pier 31 was so beautiful and inside had lots of lovely indpendent stalls were we treated ourselves to lots of chocolate, chocolate almonds of course for me and Craig bought some delicious dark chocolate and sea salt almond brittle. We had a few tasters, sampled some other bits of chocolate and cheese then got a delicious New Orleans coffee and walked down to the pier dock. We carried on walking round cheking out all the different things at each pier and came to pier 24 where there was a really fun looking bar so we stopped in and had a drink. We still had an hour before our trip so we headed to pier 39 which was really buzzing.
There were lots of places selling clam chowder and ice cream and felt like a mini Brighton. I discovered another chocolate shop, Ghiradelli, which I had read about and went to buy one chocolate frog but the member of staff said I couldn’t just buy one piece of chocolate but had to make up 150g so I kept just adding lots of different things and ended up buying far more chocolate than was needed! Then again you can never have too much chocolate! The sign says it well!
After our chocolate infused lunch we headed to pier 37 to board the boat for Alcatraz. It was such an interesting and insightful visit and only took 15 minutes on the boat for us to get there. We were given audio equipment for the tour and you could buy a guide for 1 dollar which was really good value. I knew a little about Alcatraz before going but the tour really gives a great insight to the prison, what some of the prisoners were like, attempted escapes that took place as well as lets you see their living and sleeping conditions in addition to where they would be confined to if they didn’t abide by the rules. It was quite a chilling feeling to look out behind the bars as when you did you had a peep shot of a window and in the distance could see the whole skyline of San Francisco. Just knowing that you were so close to the city but could not get there must’ve been extremely hard. What was also interesting to learn was how the island, which Alcatraz was located on, was seen as a family orientated lovely place to live. We heard case stories from individuals who grew up there and said it was such a community and wonderful place to grow up. I also didn’t know about the murder that happened and the attempted escape so that was interesting to hear.
After the tour Craig and I were starving, as we hadn’t eaten a proper lunch, just chocolate. We couldn’t decide whether to head back to pier 39 and get some clam chowder or head to the fun bar where we had the drink in before. We opted for the latter and both decided to go for clam chowder with sourdough bread for starters then I went for the fish tacos and Craig opted for the crab sandwich in sourdough bread. His dinner was pretty much a tonne of bread I’m surprised he didn’t feel bloated to the max but it was so soft and delicious. We spent the evening checking out a few bars where in one they were playing a film that was set in Alcatraz (we later found out it was called The Rock so we will need to check that out at some point.)
The next day we went and rented out bikes for the day at the bargain price of $18 as we were staying in Hi international and they had a deal with the bike shop. We headed to Haight first which I was looking forward to as had heard it was full of vintage stores and good food places! It was a great street, reminded me quite a lot like Nimbin in Australia but with a bit more character. There were some great vintage stores but the shop that caught my eye the most was the book store, Booksmith, as I loved the vibe to it and the recommendation tags and the art above each category of books. Before I knew it I had been in there for half an hour but I love book stores like that which let you come in and actually sit down and read if you want to.
After a visit to Haight we went in search of the painted houses at Alamo square which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment! I had seen pictures of them beforehand and they looked relly colourful so that when we did get to the houses I kept saying to Craig I don’t think this is it. One of the houses was boarded up (the pink one) and I was under the impression they would be more striking. They were cute but not extraordinary. We then set off for the Golden Bridge. It was a good length of a cycle and thankfully the weather wasn’t too cold however I don’t know why I chose to wear a skirt. This was not a good idea for cycling across the golden gate bridge!
When we got to it despite the fog it was amazing, in fact the fog added an eerie atmosphere to it! Craig was starving but there wasn’t anything on this end to eat so we had to head over the bridge and oh my goodness it was so windy , my skirt kept flying above my head to the point I had to hold on to the end of it in my right hand as well as hold on to the handlebar. I also thought for some reason it would be fun to take pictures on the bridge so Craig and I kept jumping off at certain points to take pictures and our cheeks were being blown all over the place! We unfortunately witnessed a horrible accident too when we saw an old man go over his handle bars and hit his head on the floor. He was bleeding quite badly but luckily a few people stepped in and were by his side straight away. I didn’t have any tissues so was offering my cardigan for him to wipe his face on but his wife managed to find some tissues and plasters however it kept bleeding quite heavily.
Once we reached the other side it was a beautiful seaside town and there were some lovely little delis, cafes and restaurants. Craig was super happy to pick up a pastrami baguette and I got a delicious chicken and avocado salad. It was a bit colder by this point and after our ride we were super set to get on the boat however there were so many people going back so in the end we had to wait about an hour and a half before we managed to get on to one. Once we were on it was amazing and warm though and we started getting super excited because we had decided we would go to the cheesecake factory and I could not wait! I think I mentioned this before, probably a few times but I had the tastiest cake of my life in Juniors in Times Square five years ago that I have never forgotten the taste of and amazingly The Cheesecake Factory had one so similar! As soon as I saw the picture of it I knew I had to have it. Chocolate fudge cake with New York cheesecake on the top and in the middle it had to be a winner and it was. Craig had a cheesecake named after him which was a carrot cake cheesecake so he had to go for that one. His was delicious too but I think he wished he’d gone for something a bit more chocolately, especially as there was so much choice such as Oreo or Reeces Pieces peanut butter chocolate one. We decided to get the cheesecake to take away and sat on the steps of Union Square eating it. I pretty much finished it all in one go, left a tiny bit and then five minutes later finished the whole thing and actually could’ve gone back and got another one. Oh my goodness whoever invented cheesecake is a genius.
After our cheesecakes, as it was our last night, we decided to head on out for a few drinks. We ended up just buying some drinks from the liquor store, having them in our room and then after packing we ended up going out and having more food! We had seen a restaurant that had a que outside it every night so we thought this has to be good. Neither of us were particularly hungry but figured while we’re here we should make the most of trying things so we joined the que and waited 15 minutes before getting a seat. We both ordered ramen, mine the pork and Craig ordered pork with egg and greens. Both were nice however mine came with only two little pieces of pork so once they were gone it was a pretty ordinary bowl of ramen. Craig’s had more flavour and other ingredients to it so he kept passing over bits of his meat for me to share which was really nice. The bowl however was huge and after eating 3/4 of it we were both pretty stuffed and did the dangerous thing of being too full again so much that we didn’t want to drink anymore! Rather we went back to the hostel and it just so happened that they had Bridesmaids on in the film room so we sat in and watched that!
We had an early start the next day for our final flight of the trip, heading to Portland, so after falling asleep and missing 30 minutes of Bridesmaids, waking up for the brilliant finale, we headed to bed, feeling excited for the next stop of this two week adventure.