🚋 Hello, San Francisco! (part 2 of 2)

The Painted Ladies, a row of terrace houses – in slightly different colours – on a steep road.

This is part 2 of a series of blog posts about our short visit to San Francisco two weeks ago. The visit was part of our big American trip of 2018. If you missed part one, you can read it!

I also forgot to mention that we got the Muni 7-day pass, which was pretty affordable even though we weren’t going to be in San Francisco for the full seven days. We were able to use the cable car and several buses with no limit as to how many times we used them.

Saturday, Day 3: Alcatraz, meeting Ethelia, and catching up with Phill at The Mill

On Saturday morning we got up early to go to Alcatraz. The tram was unfortunately running late so we got a Lyft ride instead, and luckily made it in time. At Alcatraz, we did the audio tour, and I enjoyed it. I like the majority of historic sites, though I hated studying history in school. I guess I prefer a more hands-on approach – I have so much more appreciation for historic sites when they are accompanied by something like an audio tour or at least a written form. Alcatraz definitely had some scary-sounding inmates during its time, and I was creeped out by some of the escape attempts. It’s scary to think it’s less than a couple miles to the main land but the frigid water means it’s unlikely that escapees would survive if they tried to swim.

The door to a very dark jail cell with no light source apart from the entrance.
Solitary confinement. It’s hella dark in here even without the doors shut.
A view from an island cliff face to the sea and the city of San Francisco opposite. There are a couple of boats on the water, leaving small trails of wake.
Such a pretty view back on the city!
A corridor of jail cells with barred entrances. A bit of light flows in from the ceiling.
Apparently this is more eerie at night.
A jail cell with a model of a human head in the bed. In the wall is a small hole.
A team of inmates escaped through the hole in the wall after fooling guards that the modelled heads they created were real.

I was under the impression that the island was bigger, but after we did the tour and walked around a bit, it seemed that we covered most of it. It was nice to see some flora around, too.

A garden on an island, bordered by a stone wall in a step-like pattern. In the background is a bridge on the water.
The island has some really lovely gardens.
A high view of the yellow cliff face on an island, hundreds of black birds gathered on the cliff face. In the background is the green ocean on a slightly cloudy day.
An incredible view from Alcatraz island, where many birds gathered.

We got on the boat back, and then caught a bus to meet up with yet another internet friend, my friend Ethelia, along with her boyfriend Darrin. We first talked to each other about ten years ago when we did pixel art online. We still followed each other online even though we didn’t talk much again until recently. She suggested a really good ramen place and I got a spicy ramen. I kinda felt up for the challenge? 🤣 It was, again, so nice to meet someone in person who I had only previously known online! ♥️

Two women joined at the hip, one wearing a black shirt and the other wearing a grey shirt. Both have dark hair and are smiling.
I knew Ethelia from when I had my old, old blog, Out The Window 😱 At that time we both had a hobby in pixel art! We met up for ramen (yum)

We spent most of the afternoon walking around, making our way through Haight-Ashbury, and down to Golden Gate Park. Can I just say wow. I have a soft spot for large spots of greenery, such as parks. We stopped by the Japanese garden and had tea in their tea house. I would have loved to spend more time in Golden Gate Park, but maybe another time.

The Painted Ladies, a row of terrace houses – in slightly different colours – on a steep road.
The Painted Ladies (a famous row of houses) were a little underwhelming but I liked that lots of people were around enjoying the park opposite.
Part of the city of San Francisco, seen from the top of a green, grassy hill. In the distance, a lot of trees on a hill can be seen, as well as a communications tower. The sky is blue but filled with many scattered white clouds.
A view of some of the city from a park on a hill.
A Japanese garden full of green trees, with a Japanese-style temple house in the middle of the frame. The sky is full of white-grey clouds.
Inside the Japanese tea garden. I’m not sure how the sky turned out so cloudy, but it definitely was not this gloomy in person!

Then we met up with my friend Phill, who is also from Australia but lives in San Francisco. I first met him online via Twitter, and we met some time ago when he was back in Australia for a bit. He suggested a place called The Mill which had some hipster toast varieties and good coffee. ☕️

Two cups of coffee with heart-shaped coffee art, sitting on a marble surface, along with another plate of thick toast.
Bougie toast, apparently.

That evening we went to The Cheesecake Factory. I had been to The Cheesecake Factory once before, when I went to San Diego for a work conference and myself and a few coworkers grabbed some dinner. I was keen to try another one of their salads after having a huge (and delicious) kale salad. I was under the impression that maybe dull conference food made me enjoy the salad, but I got a seared tuna salad and enjoyed it a lot. 🤤

Sunday, Day 4: Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge debacle

Nick and I used the gym in our hotel. It was pretty sizeable, and I worked out most of my muscle groups with some moderately sized weights, and then ran some intervals to finish. We have been doing a lot of walking on our trip but I definitely miss a good weightlifting workout. 😛

We grabbed brunch at The Cheesecake Factory again, hoping we wouldn’t get seriously judged after we realised the woman who showed us to our seat was the same one who showed us to our seat the night before. I had this unreal caramel royale macchiato which was huge (I know what a real macchiato is, and I suspected this was a macchiato with a full milk serving – and it was – but it was like a large size at Starbucks version). But it tasted amazing, even Nick liked it, and he kept craving it for days after that. 😆

We headed to the Palace of Fine Arts, which was really pretty. 😍 After that we headed to the Disney Family Museum. I am not that interested in the history of Walt Disney but it was a pretty good museum.

A man and woman smiling, in front of a lake with an old dome-shaped building on the other side of the lake.
The Palace of Fine Arts was beautiful!

We planned to get lovely photos of the Golden Gate Bridge at one of the viewing points, the one on the other side of the bridge. We caught a Lyft and as we drove past the first lookout, we noticed there were a lot of tourists taking photos. The area was packed. Heading across the bridge in a car was a cool experience – one day I do want to walk or bike the length of the bridge, though!

Unfortunately, when we reached the other side – called Vista Point – there was a detour and the lookout was temporarily closed. The detour took us all the way around through the mountains with a lot of traffic going in only one direction. After twenty minutes of not moving very much, seeing a line of cars in front of us, and heading behind a large hill, we lost our cellular network connection. It was a real #firstworldproblem. 🤦🏻‍♀️ We saw someone ahead of us turn around and our Lyft driver said, “Oh no, no, no, don’t turn around… you’re just going to go to the back of the queue. Did he not know this is going one way…” It was hilarious.

After 45 minutes we were still stuck. Cyclists passed us and they moved far quicker than us, while all these cars remained stuck in a one-lane queue. Close to an hour after we were initially picked up, we started passing areas where tourists had parked and stopped to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was now in view, and our cellular connection was back. I took a photo out the window as our Lyft driver slowed down, because by then we were over it. 😆 We’d just waste more time if we stopped and returned to the long line of cars.

The biggest shame was that as we were exiting the detour, that was when Vista Point re-opened… 🤦🏻‍♀️ Our driver said, “All of that time wasted… If anything I feel sorry for you guys, coming all this way”. Bahaha. We asked if he could drop us off at the cable car museum instead, and we drove back over the bridge and enjoyed the view. At least I got a photo of the bridge. I’m sure I will come back and enjoy better views next time. 🌉

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as seen from a road at a higher altitude. The sky is very blue and it’s a clear afternoon.
I should consider myself lucky that I saw it like this – it was a beautiful day and most people see the Golden Gate Bridge surrounded by clouds.

If you’d like to stay up to date with our adventures, follow the hastag #cookesUSA2018 on Twitter, where most of my posts are up-to-date – or on Instagram, where I am posting highlights.

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I also hated learning about history in school but love going to historical sites. I’ve been to a few presidents’ houses and seen some battle grounds as well. It was all so interesting, and it’s crazy to think real people walked the ground you stand on. I’m not sure how I’d handle Alcatraz, though. I’ve heard creepy stories from there, and I’m not a fan of creepy places lol.

I’m glad you’re getting to meet a bunch of online friends! That’s really awesome. I’m still bummed we couldn’t meet up again in Las Vegas, but I hope you enjoyed it!

Ah, I love the Cheesecake Factory. Sometimes I think it’s the only chain restaurant that’s nationwide that isn’t plagued with disappointing food. I’m always impressed when I go there, and I feel like their prices are pretty reasonable.

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You’re so lucky to be able to travel like you do! You always go to awesome places. All the photos look lovely!

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As always, your photos are gorgeous. I need to get out more, but I’m an inside person. Sue me.

I shouldn’t be surprised seeing the words “hipster toast,” but when I read that in your post, I was like, “Hmm. It amuses and baffles me at the same time.”

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Awesome! :D There is so much to see and do. It’s a shame about The Golden Gate Bridge and having to wait all of that time. I am sure it will all work out better next time. :D

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Oh no! Sorry to hear about your experience with the Golden Gate bridge. :-( But at least you got to drice across it and see it on a sunny day. As I said in my last comment I’ve also been to San Francisco recently, and it was a sunny day for us too. We walked the length of the bridge and took some photos, but missed out on both the Disney museum and the cable car museum. Alcatraz was very interesting, and you’ve got some great photos here. :-)

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