I had originally planned on walking from the station to the USA Hostels building, but I was exhausted and had my big backpack, so instead I hopped in a cab and found myself in the lobby, ten minutes and six dollars later. USA Hostels is very different from the Banana Bungalow. The staff seem more professional, there seemed to be a lot more organized walking tours of the city, and the hostel was much larger than the Banana Bungalow. As I was a couple of hours early for check-in the receptionist buzzed me through the main doors to let me go grab some breakfast and use the internet. I soon realized that the free breakfast at USA Hostels was much better than at Banana Bungalow. We had a variety of breads and juices and fruits to choose from, AND there was all you can eat, make-your-own pancakes with maple syrup. Needless to say, I was very happy :)
I was even happier when I saw my bedroom. Two bunk-beds and a sink sounds very simple. But the view of the San Francisco street outside was beautiful. The bed was already made and there was enough plugs inside the walled off half of the bed for all of my electrics which was a bit of a problem at the Banana Bungalow. Plus, I met a lovely German girl in my room called Madeleine. I was exhausted from my journey and still a bit sad from the goodbyes, so as the weather was a little miserable I decided to take a nap for a couple of hours, but once I woke up, San Francisco was my oyster!
The hostel is located a couple of blocks from San Francisco's famous and historic Union Square. Better still, Union Square is home to a big ol' bunch of my favorite US stores including Victoria's Secret, Macy's and Forever 21. So after spending a couple of hours sitting in the newly squeezed-out sunshine reading The Help and eating my 360 Burrito on the grass in the middle of the hustle and bustle, I started to explore a little.
After window shopping and buying a very pretty dress which I'm going to post about soon, I headed back to the hostel for their $5 pasta dinner. What a bargain eh? Sorry to say though, it was really quite average. But cheap. Never underestimate the power of a cheap dinner when backpacking. Once we'd finished up, I took a shower and Madeleine and I decided to head out on the hostel pub crawl because I really needed cheering up. Thankfully, the other people on the pub crawl were really cool and we made great friends with a group of Aussie boys (WHAT IS IT ABOUT AUSTRALIAN LADS, EH???) The pubs were very similar to those which we'd expect to find in the UK, the more modern ones I mean. And in comparison to the $7 beer I'd been scammed into buying in LA, the $3 equivalent offered in San Francisco got top points from me!
The next day I woke up a little late... It was about 11am by the time I was ready to even consider doing anything! Luckily, I'd planned a relatively chilled day for myself on top of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour with City Sightseeing and once I'd managed to rope one of my room-mates, Sally, into the idea we headed to Fisherman's Wharf to catch the bus. On this bus we managed to hit up some of San Francisco's most famous sights including the squigliest street in San Francisco, Lombard Street, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, the weather was terribly foggy so we couldn't grab any pictures of the whole bridge as we were literally stuck in a cloud. However, when we emerged on the other side of the bridge, we saw the most beautiful town in front of us, Sausalito.
Sausalito is one of the most expensive places to live in North America and I'm not surprised as it was gorgeous. Each of the houses were completely different from one another, all mounted up on the hills, hidden amongst the trees. And the town centre was lovely too with independent designer boutiques, expensive little cafes and mouth-watering ice cream stalls. Not to mention the scenery which was so lush and green, it reminded me a little of photos I've seen in the past of New Zealand. My love affair with Sausalito was soon over though as the bus spent less than twenty minutes in the area. I will definitely return though. When I'm a millionaire and can afford one of the houses.
My next couple of days in San Francisco flew by in a whirlwind of walking tours through the city, mandolin players in China Town, clam chowder and sea lions on Fisherman's Wharf, heart-shaped icons in Union Square and one very questionable skanky beer bar. On my second to last day I sadly moved out of USA Hostels as I needed to meet my fellow travellers at the Best Value Inn, so me, Madeleine and the Aussies had a few rounds of beer-pong before I packed my bag and said my goodbyes once again.
I can honestly say that San Francisco just oozes effortless cool. There are people living there from all walks of life and everywhere you turn you can find yet another culture. If you like fresh fish, you absolutely must head to Pier 39 because they have the most delicious catches of the day on offer virtually everywhere you turn. The art and literature culture in the city is so rich with famous quotes written on paving stones and even the works of our own Banksy splattered across public walls. If you're after somewhere that is full of bright lights, somewhere that screams, 'THIS CITY IS SUPER-DUPER COSMOPOLITAN' then San Francisco probably isn't for you. If you're looking for a place which sits back in its down-to-earth way just relishing in being naturally eclectic, whispering, 'Visit and you'll never want to leave' you'd better book your flights now.
Have you ever been to San Francisco? If not, how would you imagine it being? I really couldn't even imagine! Do you think you'd be interested in going?
Love and kisses