Awake the next morning at 5:30am, we lazed around until the sun was up (basically waiting until something was open) before setting off in search of those well-known light breakfast treats…doughnuts (when in Rome and all that jazz). Just as well we were up and out nice and early (before it got ridiculously hot) because has anyone ever mentioned to you that San Francisco is hilly? I mean seriously hilly, pack trainers or enjoy nursing blistered feet and getting cabs everywhere.
Spy the Golden Gate Bridge.
So up and down (mostly just up) the hills we went, seeking out two doughnut shops in particular (because when is one ever enough?), Bobs and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. The former is a lesser known, long standing locals spot and although a little less Instagram friendly, what it lacks in metallic logos and neon lights (here’s looking at you, Mr. Holmes) it more than makes up for in doughnut-iness (that’s a thing right?)
Never one to judge a book by its cover and a fan of low key, locals loved food spots (if anyone has had a Lucky Chip burger at the Seabright Arms in London, you’ll know what I mean and if you haven’t, then go get one) in we bounced, ready to purchase some fried delights and forever in the name of research, walked out with a ‘few’ to try. If you are so inclined, there is a mammoth 3 minute doughnut challenge you can partake in. If you think you can take down a massive doughnut within the 3 minutes, then you get yourself a free t-shirt, and do it in just 2 and all the doughnuty goodness is yours for free. Deciding that throwing up before 8am wasn’t the plan for the day, we didn’t join in, but if you think you’re up for it, hop on over to Bob’s when you’re in town.
Testing out plain, cinnamon and apple strudel because I've been told that variety is the spice of life...
Doughnuts in hand (well let’s be honest here…mouth) we strolled off in the direction of Mr. Holmes. You’ll find it easily enough; there will be a queue…no matter what time you arrive (I think we were there by 8am). We popped ourselves in line, took a zillion snaps and waited patiently until we could order the second round of morning doughnuts (luckily it moves quite quickly, we were drooling over baked goods at the counter within 10 minutes).
I grabbed a churro croissant (Dulce de leche and cinnamon sugar, thanks very much) and salted caramel doughnut (yup…both for me).
The croissant was a winner even though I’m not usually a fan of cinnamon, but I wasn’t feeling the doughnut so much, bit cakey and not so big on the flavour. They’re actually known for their cruffins (croissant muffins for those wondering, although if you haven’t heard of them already, have you been living under someone’s stairs?) but they only start selling these at a certain time and you have to join a separate queue which had a 30 minute wait time. There is only so much sugar a girl can handle in one morning (again, let’s be honest – 40 minutes) so I figured I was ok with what I already had, plus it gives me a valid excuse to go back. After taking a moment to wolf down my ‘breakfast’ (and capture the moment, naturally)...
...we decided to walk off our weeks’ worth of calories and stroll back towards Union Square, pick up a city car and head to the Ferry Building, which plays host to a farmers market on a Saturday morning (err just in case we hadn’t eaten enough already). I don’t know about you, but I love to wander round a city and hop on and off of public transport to get a feel for the place. Cabs are good for heels on a night out (especially with the hills, did I mention all the hills?) but I think it’s the easiest way to figure it all out and feel like a local (all be it, without the having to go to work and all the boring stuff, you know - small details). A few wrong turns and an old school cop car chase later (I’m not joking, we’re talking 5 police cars to pull one person over, guns out and everything, very Hollywood…or maybe I’ve just watched too many films), we hopped on the city car.
Down on the water’s edge, what used to be a ferry port is now home to various shops (mostly food, although some cute home stuff too), restaurants and come Saturday turns its hand to a market place housing deliciousness.
Promising ourselves we didn’t need anything and would just have a look, some of us managed to keep to our word better than others…
He tells me they were worth it though (I’m only just getting my fish/seafood vibes on, having been an avid avoider for most of my life, but I’m yet to give oysters a go…for now they are still very much not my thing). Following our unplanned pit stop, we strolled through the rest of the market. Well actually, I did a lot a waiting. Contrary to stereotypes, I’m not the shopper of the two of us. I like a quick nose, if I want something I get it and then I’m off. So he shops, I wait and then I usually moan that he has bought to much stuff that he doesn’t need and then he moans that I always moan…it’s fun…can you tell? Once we were done (read, he had nothing else to buy/eat) we decided to go check out Fisherman’s Wharf.
I should add that, I’m not a fan of touristy spots like this usually, especially in the US, I feel like I’m in a Disney park where you walk down those pretend streets, everyone looks the same and its nothing but chain restaurants and people everywhere, BUT having never been to San Francisco and always a fan or forming my own opinion (hey - we’re all different, just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t mean I won’t and vice versa), we hopped back on the city car and down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Err I was right, it is was pretty much as expected. I whizzed around as quickly as possible (he was still trying to shop…lord help me), checked out the Sea Lions (not hard to find, follow your nose and ears)
and got my groove on outta there. If you have children and need to keep them entertained and amused there’s lots of things that little eyes might like but being child free and not having much need to stick around we packed ourselves off to find the tram line, admiring all the pretty houses as we went.
San Francisco is well known for its trams, so I had thought they would be everywhere, zipping up and down, but in reality there are only a few lines that go back and forth. Still, wanting to take a quick ride, we found the line that runs through North Beach and stops at Union Square and jumped on.
Tip, if you start at this end you’re more likely to get to sit up the front or hang off the side which is really what it’s all about. The queues that greeted us when we got off at Union Square were massive, maybe because it was Labour day weekend (although I got the impression from chatting to people that the city was quieter over the holiday) so perhaps it isn’t always like that. We had to wait a few stops for someone else to hop off and then scrambled round the side of the tram (shout out to the driver so he knows you’re on the move and intend to jump back on to avoid him trundling off without you) and held on to the side for the rest of the ride. It costs $7 a ride but it’s well worth doing.
Back in Union Square and deciding to make the most of the Labour Day sales and do some shopping (I say we, I mean he, not me) we spent a few hours checking out the shops and working up an appetite before dropping our sales haul off at the hotel (handy, what with it being so close) and following our noses to the Misson to find La Taqueria.
I’d read about this place online before getting to San Francisco and was determined to get there during our stay. We arrived and jumped in the queue asap (as much to hide in the shade as excitement for food) and checked out the menu whilst we waited. Deciding on a carnitas burrito and a side of beef taco, once ordered, we shuffled off to find a table. This place is relatively small and its busy, the queue was to the door when we arrived (and stayed that way the entire time) and the lady we sat next to said that it was usually out the door and down the street but she did also say you can call ahead and order over the phone and just arrive to collect it. (Im)patiently waiting, the food arrived pretty quickly and we set about to chowing down. It…was…soooo….good. I barely got a picture before it was all gone (I’m actually really awful at taking pictures of what I’m eating, when food gets put in front of me I want to eat it, not snap it and I also feel like a bit of a dick having a photo session with my dinner, aware that blogs need photos however, I’m persevering)
I would most definitely go back, even if the queue was down the street, although if you can call ahead and avoid the wait, all the better. If you go, get the carnitas burrito, order it El Dorado style and thank me later.
Now, how do you plan your holidays? Me, I scour the internet and read anything I can get my hands on to figure out what I fancy doing, plus I stalk Instagram and find all those spots that look picture perfect. I also (and this is super sad I know) ALWAYS print out a map of the area I’m staying in and mark all the places I want to see. I know, I know, old school. Google maps is great and all that but I like having an idea of what is where in relation to everything else, without zooming in and out, it helps me plan a bit better (I’m an obsessive over planner by the way) and if you ever find yourself off on a random wander you’ll always be able to see if there is something close that you wanted to try. I went on a trip to Amsterdam once with my friend, Emily and she was beside herself when I cracked out my little homemade map…anyway, I digress.
So after burritos (map in hand), what is better than a little stroll to another spot I wanted to see? Or say…a 15 block uphill walk in 105 temperatures wearing gladiator sandals (I wasn’t kidding when I said pack trainers). A few pit stops (and crossed words) later, we arrived in the Castro district, the predominantly gay area in SF...
I mean what gave it away? This corner of SF is packed full of my kind of shops selling candles, perfume and home bits. Having a nose (and a rest), I snapped away whilst admiring glances got shot our way (not at me…).
Deciding we’d had enough walking (slash scaling mammoth hills) and heat for one afternoon and before I lost my boyfriend to the Castro forever, we hopped in an Uber and headed back to the hotel for a siesta. Surely I’m not the only one who makes the most of not being at work and napping when on holiday? Perhaps not always the best idea when jet lagged though, we snoozed a bit longer than planned, woke up a bit disorientated and having missed dinner, but dragged ourselves out for a dink anyway (real hardship…must find gin). Still a little sleepy, we didn’t venture far and grabbed a few drinks in Rye before deciding it was a bit too quiet and I would likely end up napping again if I didn’t find somewhere with more of an atmosphere and instead ended up in Jones just down the road.
Jones has a rooftop (which is surprisingly rare in SF) and was a lot busier so we grabbed a drink and headed outside to keep cool, drink the night away and chatter about our first full day of adventures.
The last day in SF is coming up next, sit tight…