USA - San Francisco
View from Coit Tower
Well, let's say, I went with my friends to California for a road trip (20 march - 8 april 2013). This road trip brought us to more then just Californian Dreaming. We actually ended up crossing 4 states! Yeaj! (CA, UTAH, NEVADA en some desert of Arizona. 18 days of travel. Way too short to enjoy the beauty of a country of which I was and maybe still am full of prejudices. Anyway, bordercontrol and US-laws didn't really cause a hazard as we were never in trouble, we got no speeding tickets whatsoever, never had accidents, Trouble with hotelbookings, car breakdowns, so one happy trip! And this with a 16 month old little bastard. Yes travelling with kids demands a certain state of mind and change of your daily rythm (early mornings, early evenings). Why travelling with a baby so many of my friends asked, that's going to be horror. It wasn't. Adapt and everything will be fine. Sure there were difficult times, but the times we all had fun with that little guy were also many. As long as you have enough me-myself-and I-time. Which I always need. I like to get out on my own, but when the day ends, it's always nice to rejoin your friends. And there was springtime, full sun! over 20 degrees! While here in Belgium at the time it was still hell freezing over!
While planning the trip it all started with the idea of getting abroad. I'm used to travel in groups, not only pure Belgian travelagencies (vreemde kontinenten, joker, anders reizen) but also international (intrepid, gapadventures, dagboekreizen.nl => Brasil ,...). I've also been travelling with friends lately. I prefer travelling with people i know than to be in a group with people I need to get to know to have good times with.
And the US of A was already some time on my wishlist. Then my friends told me they wanted to go to San Francisco. Then I said i'd like to join them. All of sudden they told me thye had booked tickets. So in in hour I booked my flights too. Air France, leaving with THalys from Brussels, ending up two hours later in Charles de Gaulle for our flight. And then we needed to plan. The interwebz has it all. Shortly we ended up booking all best westerns and shared accomodation. Only a few days I had a private room for myself. No big deal.
Booking a car with Alamo rental went quite fluid. And finding suitable housing in San Francisco neither.
With Flipkey we ended up quite in the middle of the things-to-see, right next to a cable car and walking distance from everywhere we neede to go. It was a nice topfloor appartment. Old, maybe a bit chilly, but the heating worked fine in the living room. Contact with the owner was per email exclusively but we had no troubles finding the keys and making the place cosy. Well let's say it was full of babystuff and we had to fit in between. We found ourselves supermarktet and coffeebars at walking distance, we were even very close to Fishermen's Warf and Pier 39, the Embarcadero and Washington Square: the gate to Chinatown.
WHAT TO SEE & TRANSPORT
As every city San Francisco has a lot to offer for everyone. Everything you need. Even if you might be that one person that needs to stay ot of the sun, is allergic to masses or jsut wnats to dive into the undergournd nightlife. Look and you will find. I like to go off the beaten track, but anyway off the beaten trakc means most of the time: places where actually ther's nothgin to see but the daily life, like you would be strolling your own neighbourhood where you live. Local places are local and yes they have their nice thigns to discover, otherwise it would be boring for the people livign there. But Le Louleur Local, it is always somethign you need to dive in.
Colourfull San Francisco: mind the steep streets, yes it is like in the movies. So if you aren't used to hike, i'd can be quite tiring running up that hill.
I like running up hills. If you don't: take a look at the map and follow the flat big streets as much as you can before you turn to a side street. Take the old cablecar or take one of the buses. We bought ourselves a 3 day munipass: about 24 dollars each i guess to take all the buses you want. Well not all, but most.
the mansion of Danielle Steele
One of the must sees is walking down the piers at the coast line. Call it the boardwalk. Yes it is full of tourists. Yes it's even full of tourist traps. Anyway start at Pier 1 where the fresh market is. walk down further along the pier and then you find Pier 39 Fishermen's warf with tons of places to eat and you can watch to sunbathign sealions. Walk further to the museum with vintage games and World war II old warships. Taste some Crab Cioppino. Rent a bike and to all the way to the Golden Gate Brigde: put your feet in the sand and the beach. Cross the bridge, take pictures, go downhill to the next little village, have some icecream, don't forget to watch the ferry to take you back to SF along Alacatraz.
Famous neighbourhoods are the Castro and the Mission. I went walking the big lanes up to Alamo Square along lots of famous mansions and ncie shopping streets before I took the bus to Mission. There i followed a walk in my cityguide along the Latino graffitti streetart walls.
In the bus it was strange. In SF you have a lot of Asians...when entering Mission, slowly Asians made place for Latino's and even the district itself looks more like Sout-American slums: loud, not that clean, more macho and more nacho. I felt quite safe on my own. Though some streets can be very lousy and deserted even in daylight.