After 15 hours or so of travel, I arrived to Sarah's apartment in the Noe Valley district at around 6.30pm on Saturday evening (2.30am UK time). Sarah was in Seattle and arriving back the following day which was lucky, as jet lag had rendered me incapable of intelligent conversation and any sensible co-ordination. I forced myself to stay awake until 9.30pm then slept for the whole of Ireland. Until 5.30am. This meant that I had my new Nike Air Max on and was out the door exploring by 8am.
I headed north on Church Street heading for Mission Dolores Park where I caught first sight of downtown San Francisco. I walked through the park and mingled with the early morning dog walkers and my plan was to visit Tartine which had been heavily recommended for it's fantastic coffee and french pastries. It seemed that around 50 other people had the same idea and were queued round the block waiting for the doors to open at 9am. So on I went and discovered The Heart of the City Farmers' Market just off Market Street, where I felt a little like I was back at the Bastille market in Paris.
My hunger could no longer be contained so was satisfied with a most USA breakfast of an onion bagel with lashing of cream cheese and a large cappuccino at Mercury Cafe. The full height windows were open to the beautiful day and it was here where I first realised cafes and bars in San Francisco play really good tunes. I sat for a while and enjoyed. See pic here.
I continued on through the heart of downtown towards the Financial district and walked a little around the leafy and historic Jackson Square area. I saw Coit Tower in the distance which is a great viewing point although closed for refurbishment at present. I hit the Embarcadero almost at the water's edge and made my way around to one of California's most popular tourist attractions, Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf. It's a little Disney and Bubba Gump, but pretty nonetheless. And with views back towards the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and of Alcatraz, it has to be done.
I had been there before, around 15 years ago (yikes!) when on a backpacking trip in The US. The sea lions were of course still there and barking just as loudly.
By this stage I was well exercised but I thought I would make the second visit of my life to the 'crookedest street in the world'. The famous 'wiggly' block of Lombard Street on Russian Hill. I walked to the top and the views towards the bay were beautiful with the sky this blue.
Confident that I had figured out my buses back the apartment I walked up onto Union Street with a plan of not walking much further. But then the view all the way west down Union Street was revealing that something exciting must be happening in the distance. Why must I not be able to miss these things! It turned out to be a colourful street fair closed to traffic. Debatable whether the walk was worth it, but it was nice to see.
By this stage I well and truly ready for the bus. Any bus. Any bus going remotely south. A combination of luck and good map reading skills engrained into me by by husband, ensured that I was ferried back to Sarah's place as swiftly as San Francisco's mediocre public transport system would allow.
There she had just got back and was waiting for me for another adventure. I had walked probably the equivalent of Belfast to Carryduff and maybe beyond.....but was ready for more!
(and it was still only about 2.30pm......)