Finally, another US destination, and after absolutely loving New York, I couldn’t wait to explore another city! I definitely wasn’t looking forward to the 16 hour flight though! We departed Dubai at 9am and arrived in San Francisco International Airport later that day around 2pm.
The flight was chaotic and we were rushed off our feet, but that didn’t stop me from heading straight out as soon as we got to the hotel. I changed, and then ordered an Uber into the city.
The first thing on my list was actually to buy a new iPhone. I’ve been thinking about getting a new one for a while as I wanted a better camera and I figured where better to buy one that the place Apple was founded! It is also a lot cheaper to buy Apple products in the US than it is in the UK or Dubai. I went to the Chestnut Street store and got myself the iPhone XS.
I then googled the Mrs. Doubtfire house and saw that it was only a 15 minute walk away so I made my way up Steiner Street in search for the house. What I didn’t realise is that it was all completely up hill! Mrs. Doubtfire was one of my favourite movies as a child and I still love it just as much now. The house is not a tourist attraction as someone actually lives there so I didn’t hang around outside, I just walked past and took a quick picture! It brought back so many great memories of the film.
I then carried on walking down Steiner street to the ‘Painted Ladies’ which are a row of famous painted houses that are one of the iconic sights of San Francisco. It was about a 30 minute walk but I loved looking at all the beautiful houses along the way. The neighbourhood was pristine and all the houses and gardens were perfect.
I eventually made it to the Painted Ladies and had a little sit down in the park opposite. The weather was a bit miserable and grey so the houses probably didn’t look as pretty as they would have done on a sunny day, but it was still a nice area. I took a couple of pictures and then shortly after it started to rain so I ordered an Uber and made my way back to the hotel after a very long and exhausting day!
On the way back to the hotel, I spotted an In-N-Out Burger so I jumped out of the Uber and ordered the famous ‘Double-Double’. I’ve wanted to try In-N-Out for a while now as it has become so popular, so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. The burger was amazing but I definitely prefer McDonald’s chips!! It was the perfect end to my day and then after this, I went straight to bed.
The next morning, I set my alarm for 7am as I had booked the 9:30am tour of Alcatraz. One of the girls from the flight, Simona, joined me for the tour so we met downstairs at 8:30am and ordered an Uber to Pier 33 where the Alcatraz ferry leaves from. There was so much traffic in the city, it was very touch and go, but luckily there was a long queue to make it on the ferry so we made it just in time!
The ferry ride to Alcatraz island was only 10 minutes and it was the first time I got a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge!
We arrived on the island and was greeted by a tour guide who gathered us in the courtyard and introduced us to the prison and told us fascinating stories about the inmates. He told us a really interesting story about a prisoner called John Giles who very nearly escaped Alcatraz by stealing a soldiers uniform that he used to launder. However, his plan fell through when he got on the wrong boat and instead of going to San Francisco, it took him to Angel Island, and by the time he arrived, he was detected and sent right back again!
The first part of the tour started with an 18 minute-long video in the theatre which gave you a background of the prison and explained some of its most notable inmates such as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis and Robert Franklin Stroud “Birdman”. The rest of the tour is self-guided with an audio guide included. The audio guide was brilliant and very organised. It was quite busy there, but everything has been planned and set out very well so you can easily avoid the crowds.
I couldn’t believe just how small the prison cells were! We got to see each of the different wings including the isolation cells where inmates would be sent if they broke any rules. We also visited the Library, Dining Hall and Recreation area.
Another attempted escape was through the vents under the sink where three inmates picked away the wall with metal spoons and placed a dummy body in their cell bed.
Next, we walked around the outside grounds which were actually very pretty and had stunning views across the Bay.
Last but not least, we made our way towards the gift shop and today was our lucky day as ex-inmate William Baker was actually there, signing copies of his book. William is only one of three Alcatraz prisoners still alive so it was very lucky seeing him there!
By this time, it was midday so we got the ferry back to San Francisco in search for some lunch. We walked to Pier 39 and I had seen a place called Boudin online which seemed popular and had the famous San Francisco Clam Chowder. I ordered one up and it was delicious!
After our lunch, we carried on walking around the Pier and made the most of the great weather. San Francisco is known as the Fog City, but there wasn’t a bit of fog in sight. I had heard about the sea lions here so we walked around the pier and found them on the side towards Fisherman’s Wharf.
The sea lions were SO loud and smelt really bad, but it was fun watching them dive in and out of the water! We didn’t hang around long and then walked to Fisherman’s Wharf.
At Fisherman’s Wharf, we then rented a bicycle each and started the cycling route across the Golden Gate Bridge and onto Sausalito. The route was mostly all flat so it was really easy and the views along the bay towards the bridge were stunning. We stopped off several times to admire the view and take pictures!
As we got closer and closer to the bridge, the views just kept getting better. It really is huge and such an iconic sight of San Francisco!
We had finally made it to the bridge and it was now time to cycle over it on the East side which is closed for cyclists. It was so windy riding over the bridge but the views were incredible and it was definitely a memory I won’t forget!
The rest of the route was to Sausalito which is the city on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, we couldn’t stay here for much time as we had to get the ferry back in time to drop off our bikes before the rental shop closed. We did however, manage to look in a few boutique clothing stores whilst we was waiting for the ferry!
After we arrived back in San Francisco, we cycled to the rental shop, dropped off the bikes and then ordered an Uber to take us back to our hotel. It was a very long and jam packed day so we was exhausted by this point! We hadn’t eaten since the clam chowder lunch in Pier 39 so I ordered some room service and then slept like a baby through to the next morning!
The next day, the pick up wasn’t until 2:45pm but I didn’t fancy going out after a busy few days so instead, I had a nice lie in, then went downstairs and ordered an American style breakfast.
The flight back was only half full and with a 4 and a half hour sleep in the crew rest compartment, it really wasn’t that bad. I did feel shattered though when I landed back in Dubai!
I had an incredible time in San Francisco and saw so much in 48 hours. I can’t wait to carry on ticking more US destinations off my list. Next, I would love to visit Seattle, Chicago and Dallas. Hopefully I’ll get rostered them soon!
Thanks for reading.
Kerry May xo