This blog post gives you tips and tricks and a list of things to do in San Francisco. Must-see sights include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and the infamous 39 pier and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Click here to get your full guide and tick off your North America bucket list
Hello everyone & welcome back to my blog! I am so excited to write this post because this was my first time leaving Europe! Needless to say, I was very nervous, especially about flying, but I had so much fun and can’t wait to share my experience with you all!
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As usual, at the end of the post, there will be a map with all the places mentioned!
Somethings you should know:
▷ Visas! As EU citizens, we do not need to get a visa to enter the US. However, we do need to fill out an ESTA form. Make sure you apply for this Visa a couple of weeks before the flight as it can take some time for it to be approved. Also, make sure you type in the info correctly! I accidentally misspelt my name, yes my name, and had to do the form all over again and pay the fee twice. The fee is $14.
▷ We flew with Delta to Alabama and hopped on another flight to San Francisco. The first leg of our journey was about 10 hours long and I packed snacks. However, Delta feeds you really well and we didn’t even touch our snacks! They also vegetarian options. Furthermore, the drinks are free!
▷ Pro tip: make sure you get some sleep. If you’re an anxious flyer like me, take some night quill with you. I didn’t sleep for more than 24 hours and that was not fun.
▷ Jet lag is a bi^&%*. Enough said.
▷ Parking at Frankfurt International Airport is very expensive. I recommend using Travel Parking. Book in advance from their website and then you just leave your car there and they’ll drive you to your terminal! The cars are kept safe in a locked area. We left our car for three days and it only cost us €47.50. They also pick you up when you land back in Germany.
▷ Renting a car is always a good idea. We use the Alamo and got ourselves a nice Kia for a good price
On our first night, we stayed at the in a neighbourhood known as Tenderloin. It is not the nicest neighbourhood. You could see people dealing and doing drugs out in the open. we only stayed one night and for the rest of our stay, we stayed at the Best Western Plus in Pleasanton. It was super comfortable, the neighbourhood was safe and it was in walking distance from Walmart, Chick-Fil-A, In and Out and many other restaurants and shops!
What to do & see in San Francisco:
▷ Twin Peaks:
The Twin Peaks have a stunning 360-degree view of San Francisco! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you go here. It’s on the way to the bridge so you can easily stop there for a couple of minutes and take in the stunning panorama.
There is a small flight of stairs you’d need to climb to get to the top but it’s worth it at the end! From here you can see The Golden Gate Bridge and The Alcatraz Prison!
▷ The Golden Gate Bridge:
This was on the top of my list of sights to see in San Francisco. We didn’ take the drive to go on the bridge because there was A LOT of traffic. Instead, we took pictures from a nearby parking lot.
See those waves over there? I got splashed by them! I was taking a picture and all of a sudden I feel the back of my legs getting cold! After that funny episode, we walked to the Fort Point Museum which is located exactly under the bridge!
We learned that that Fort Point was a fortification used to defend San Francisco Bay. The entry to the Fort is free! There is a small souvenir shop and from there I bought a small souvenir of the Bridge. As soon as you walk in, you’re led to a large courtyard with information plaques. Also, there was a yarn display going on when we were there. I really liked the colours!
On the right side of the courtyard, there are two flights of stairs. Each level has open rooms for the public and the last flight of stairs leads to the roof. Once you’re up there, you’re exactly underneath the bridge!
A couple of rooms were open to the public. This particular one was the soldier’s quarter who lived here way back when Fort Point was a military base used as a defence.
It was so interesting to see how their uniforms were back in the day and learn how they spent their time at the fort.
The other room was a sort of a mini-museum giving the history behind the Golden Gate Bridge and how the bridge was built.
▷ Go up to the top of Fort Point:
We got to see the lighthouse and the entire view of San Francisco Bay. It was VERY windy but we still had fun.
▷ Go to the San Francisco Pier:
By the time we were done walking around the museum and taking pictures, all of us were starving. So we headed to the pier for some food and we decided to stop at Applebee’s. It was my first time going and being a foodie myself, I was VERY excited. My dish of choice was the Brunch Burger. It was HUGE! Nonetheless, I did manage to eat it all 😌
Afterwards, we just walked around the pier and took in the hustle and bustle.
My favourite was looking at the seals! I had no idea that there were seals in San Francisco nor have I ever been this close to one. The smell wasn’t pleasant but it was an experience nonetheless!
They all just lay and chill together. Some of them started to fight for space. It was definitely a sight worth seeing.
Fun fact: from the pier, you can also see Alcatraz!
I’m not 100% sure whether you’re allowed to go in the actual prison or not, but I could see some boat tours that get pretty close to it. The prison is now closed for good. It used to house some of American’s hardened criminals and three managed to escape! No one is sure whether they survived or not. The distance from the prison to the bay is pretty far and the water is cold too.
Lombard Street was also on my list of sights I wanted to see in San Francisco. By the time we got there, it was already night time. I especially loved the view of the Golden Gate Bridge lit up!
Lombard Street is a must see in S. Francisco. I do recommend going during the day though! You can actually go on the cable ride that takes you up and down the street because the street in itself, it’s pretty steep.
By the time we were done taking pictures, all of us were exhausted so we called it a day and got some rest for our next adventure.
▷Visit the Calaveras State Park:
The following day we headed to a state park for a nice hike. Calaveras was about 2 hours away from our hotel. The drive there was STUNNING! Again, nothing but greenery and fields of cows, horses and sheep.
The entrance fee to the state park is 10 US Dollars per vehicle. There is a souvenir shop adjacent to the parking lot. From there you can get a map which you’ll need. I stopped to buy a small souvenir and off we went! At the back of the souvenir store, there’s a mini-museum which gives some information behind the history of the park and the wildlife that used to live/lives there.
It rained the night before so there was a lot of mud. Needless to say, my white converse turned into brown converse.
This state park is well known for having sequoia trees which are HUGE and hundreds of years old!
The hike in itself took us maybe 90 minutes to finish but we walked slow and stopped to take pictures. You can pay for group tours if you’d like.
The air was so fresh and it was something different from the day before. I love being in nature, going on hikes and getting away from the city for a little to explore other not so popular and well-known spots!
We stopped by Ross to do some last minute shopping and I was hooked 😍 I used to think that Primark was the shit (pardon my French) but Ross is on a whole other level!!
For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, Ross is a store that sells designer brand items for a less price. For example, I purchased a Guess handbag, Tommy wallet, Aldo Bag, workout clothes and going out clothes for 120 dollars. Bargain!
It was a bit of a challenge packing all those stuff and the gifts I got in my already overpacked hand luggage but I managed thanks to my lovely mother in law!
We hung out with family for a couple more hours and then it was time to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is always hard, especially to his family which I really grew to love! But I know that one day we will all be together again.
The drive to the airport was about an hour and a half. We dropped our car off at the rental garage and proceeded to our gates. Before that, we stopped by to have some good old American Chinese food! It was my first time having egg rolls and I have to say, I was not disappointed. My waist size was definitely complaining though!
Flying from America back to Germany:
Going back to Germany, we flew with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The flight duration was approx. 9.5 hours. We had a layover of 3 hours in Amsterdam. I’ve heard great reviews about this airline, but as soon as we got on the plane, I looked around and realised how old the aircraft actually was!
Both me and Luis thought that we weren’t going to make it to Germany. Again, I didn’t get any sleep even after taking two doses of NyQuill. Compared to Delta, this aircraft was much older however, the plane ride was way smoother. We did not experience any turbulence whatsoever.
One exciting thing did happen on this flight though. We flew over Antarctica and Iceland and there were the Northern Lights! I was watching a movie (the inflight entertainment was better than what Delta offered) and I happened to look out of the window and there they were! Green lines in the sky. They were so beautiful!!
Our last leg of the journey:
The flight from Amsterdam airport to Frankfurt was only 45 minutes. We flew with KLM again and the aircraft’s name was KLM City Hopper. I did manage to get some rest on this flight. As soon as we landed, we called the parking company. They came to pick us up from Terminal B6 Departures, drove us to their office, picked up our car and we were finally our way home!
To sum up:
I had an amazing time in California! It was a HUGE culture shock especially in Atlanta but nonetheless, it was so much fun. Meeting his family was a plus as well and now I can say that I have been to the states. I have a feeling in my gut that this won’t be my last time there. We shall see!
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And that brings an end to today’s long blog post. I really hope you enjoyed it. ! Until the next one! Don’t forget to follow me on my social media and pin the below image to your Pinterest account!