I have the best hammock spot in San Francisco, nestled in a group of trees framing the landmark houses alongside Alamo Square. To my left I overlook the city as it’s guarded from the sun by overcasting clouds. It’s said to rain today, and it’s yet to only sprinkle. But I’m protected by these shading trees, giving me the opportunity to gaze at my beautiful surroundings from the comfort of my Kammok hammock. It’s a chilly day, and more windy than I’ve experienced the city in the past 2 1/2 days. I’m decently bundled up by my peacoat and scarf. I watch as fellow visitors take their scenic photographs with the city as I did just moments before, and reflect on what the past couple of days have brought me…
My first day in the city I chose to do none other than what I love doing most (no, not hammocking)…riding a bike! My amazing travel companion, Bethany, and I hopped off the plane and onto a bicycle to cruise 15 miles around the city. Embarrassed to say it took us over two hours (did not make my Strava stats look very good) but it was well worth it because we stopped about one hundred times to take pictures of this gorgeous city. I was humbled by my cycling training on this terrain…those hills are no joke. Needless to say, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which is 1.7 miles long, to Sausalito, this adorable little town right outside SF.
We peddled past cute vintage shops, waved as fellow cyclists passed us by, and took in this quaint and scenic bayside town. The sun was beginning to set as we made our way to find one of the few restaurants open in town for New Year’s Eve, The Seafood Peddler, for our first meal of the trip. I was pleasantly stunned by their happy hour prices on oysters and wine (which we delved into with no hesitation). Afterwards we made our way to the ferry boat, and were in awe of the nighttime city skyline from the water’s wake.
We rang in the new year with locals and visitors alike, at the Ha-Ra Club (a suggestion by a fellow hostel-stayer) just a few blocks from our temporary abode. One of the few places in the city with no cover on a celebratory evening, and just as much fun as any extravagant NYE event. Bethany and I only thought to take one photo of us in our “fancy” evening attire (a rare sight for us adventure-seekers) and the rest of the evening has no record…what happens in San Francisco, stays in San Francisco… (that’s what they say, isn’t it?)
The next morning (7am to be exact) we somehow awoke to hurry out the door and onto our next adventure…we take a road trip outside the city, which I’m saving for another blog post… (stay tuned!)
Roughly 11am the day after New Year’s Day, we arrive back in San Francisco. We’ve accomplished a lot in the past 36 hours or so, and took the chance to shower and freshen up to be ready for our next endeavors. There is so much to do in this historic city, and knowing we only had 24 hours left (less than even) we decided to not find our activities; however, allow our activities to find us.
So we hopped on the trolley cars to get the views everyone hopes for during a trip in SF. If it’s your first time visiting SF, I would suggest only purchasing a one-way ride on the trolley. As it’s worth getting your chance of experiencing this historic part of the city, the lines are much too long and it’s not the most efficient way to get from point A to point B.
First stop: Chinatown, where we met up with our hostel friend, Mitch, for lunch at House of NanKing, which was nothing short of fabulous to say the least. We received authentic Chinese restaurant care from a popular tourist stop, and seeing as how we had just went camping the night before (spoiler alert!) we were dying to devour a warm, fresh meal.
Later on we paid our farewells to a new friend, and made our way to the next coffee shop we spotted for a much-needed pick-me-up after a delicious meal! I was impressed by all of the unique coffee shops on every corner (not Starbucks, and yes, surprisingly there was still a Starbucks on every corner) all offering the pour over method with single-origin beans. In total I visited 5 different coffee shops (3 days, 5+ cups of coffee…yes I did the math right.) If you couldn’t tell, along with hammocks and cycling, coffee is another love of mine. ❤
Here are the places I enjoyed my coffee in chronological order:
- Royal Donut Cafe (who’s to argue that donut shops don’t have the best coffee?)
- The Station SF (post Chinese food coma)
- Little Gem (photo to the left)
- The Mill (that bread though…)
- Blue Bottle Coffee (inside the Ferry Building, this is where I purchased my one and only souvenir of the trip)
We took in the festivities Chinatown had to offer, walking around witnessing the Chinese street performers with their traditional instruments, children running around their family’s small-business market shops, and took in the smells of fresh produce from our neighbors of the West.
Our second half of day two in the city consisted of WALKING. Up hills, in the sand, down the piers, winding around Lombard Street…walking EVERYWHERE. When the trolleys were broken or passed us up, we would WALK. So word of advice if you’re planning on visiting: wear good walking shoes. Thankfully mine were decent, but I still have the blisters to prove the amount of walking I did. We walked around the numerous piers lining the bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, and so on. We saw crazy street performers dressed as clowns and breakdancers very serious about making tips. Finally it dawned on Bethany and I, as we were being suffocated by the crowds…it was a Saturday night. So we stopped at the first not-crowded bar we saw, relaxed, and sat down over a glass of wine.
The remainder of our evening was spent enjoying unlimited popcorn at The Owl Tree bar paired with gin and tonics, laughing over the ’96 film The Rock playing with subtitles, and connecting with the fellow spectators sitting around us. It was a relaxing evening to end off our exciting past 72 hours in a new city.
Bethany’s plane flight left in the wee hours of the following morning, so I awoke on my own, having the entire mid-morning to explore. So of course I choose to do none other than find a park with a great view, set up my hammock, write and reflect…
And now we’re back to my urban hang in Alamo Square. San Francisco kicks off my 2016 year of adventures. Travel opens my eyes and heart to what the world truly has to offer in our short lives. It challenges me, gets me outside my comfort zone, and makes me feel accomplished unlike anything else. So for my 2016 resolution, that’s what I intend to do. Soon I will be back home in Houston, back to my job at the yoga studio. I will have an new found perspective of life that I can share in my teaching, and in my day to day conversations. And then I will be off on my next adventure…wonder where it’ll be….