We had an early flight out of Denver so we were up at 5:00am and on
the way to the airport before 5:30. By the time we had parked in the
shuttle lot and made it to the airport, we didn't have much time to
spare. We grabbed a quick breakfast a BK and headed to security. There
was a pretty long wait and by the time we finally got through it and
made it to our gate, they were just about to start boarding the flight.
The flight went by pretty quickly and soon we were landing in San
We booked our 3 nights at the Grand Hyatt in Union Square. It had been
recently remodeled and was a nice place to spend a few nights away from
home. To get there, we bought tickets on BART and waited for the train.
(As a side note, I'm not sure who programmed the ticket machines for
BART, but I'm pretty sure I could create, code, and test a better user
interface in about an hour. It was so bad, they had a person staffed at
the automatic ticket machines to show people how to use them.) It took
us about 45 minutes to get to the correct stop for our hotel. We then
had a couple of blocks to walk to our hotel. We had originally planned
to stop at the hotel to get rid of our bags, but they actually let us
check in at about 11:00 in the morning. It was great to be able to
relax for a few minutes and check out the view from our room.
View from our hotel room
After a quick rest, we tried to figure out what to eat for lunch.
We searched around on our computer for a little bit and realized we
were only a couple of blocks from Chinatown, so we decided to go try to
find lunch there. We walked around and quickly came to a
restaurant that looked like it would have "regular" Chinese food and
sat down. The place was packed and I think we were the only non
Chinese people there. We ordered and waited for our food to show
up. It took a very long time, but while we were waiting, we kept
seeing people get platters of fried chicken wings delivered. We
couldn't figure out why so many people were ordering them, until we got
back to the hotel that evening and read reviews that they supposedly
have the some of the best spicy chicken wings in San Francisco.
When our food finally arrived, it was good but nothing
exceptional. We finished and began to explore Chinatown. It
is a lot of fun to just wander around and look at the various
shops. There are lots of shops selling cheap souvenirs which
aren't too exciting. The fun stores are the food markets.
It is cool to see all of the different types of food available for sale
there. There were shops selling all kinds of fish, some selling
vegetables that I don't ever see in our supermarkets and some just
selling regular stuff. We spent about an hour or two wandering
through the various streets and shops of Chinatown and eventually found
our way to little Italy.
As we were walking through little Italy, we started seeing signs for
Coit Tower, so we decided to follow them and shortly we ended up
climbing a steep hill and arrived at the top to find Coit Tower.
We took a few pictures and went inside. There was a line to go up
to the top, so we decided to skip it and just walked around and looked
at the murals inside. We headed back outside and took a few
pictures of the views. You can easily see the Golden Gate Bridge,
Alcatraz, and the Bay Bridge.
Views from the Coit Tower area
The area around Coit Tower is surrounded by trees and it was nice to
sit and relax in the shade, so we spent a few minutes on one of the
benches until we were ready to head out again.
Relaxing the shade
We explored one of the paths leading from the tower and saw the dock
where our boat to Alcatraz would depart on our tour the next
morning. It was also a good spot to get some views of the Bay
Bridge. It isn't as pretty as the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is
still an impressive bridge to see in person.
As we were walking around, we ended up on Lombard Street. Lombard
Street is that really crooked street you always see in pictures of San
Francisco. What I didn't realize is that it is a pretty long
street and only a very short segment is curvy. We decided to
start walking to see if we could find the famous crooked part. We
walked down the hill from Coit Tower and could see the crooked section
at the top of another large hill. It is pretty amazing to me how
long and straight most of Lombard is. There isn't so much as a
bend in it at all except for the one short section which is nothing but
switchbacks. After a while we made it to the top of the hill and
got to see the famous section of Lombard.
It was pretty packed, but there were still some nice views to be had
including Alcatraz. We also got to see a couple of cable cars
coming up and down the cross street.
Classic San Francisco Views
We stopped at the top and grabbed a few pictures of where we had just come from.
Coit Tower from Lombard Street
We walked back down the sidewalk and stopped for a few pictures of the curvy road.
Cars on Lombard Street
Afterwards, we walked back the way we had come and headed back to our
hotel. When we got back, we were getting hungry for dinner, so we
searched online and found a nice little pizza shop close to our
hotel. We headed over to it and had a great meal of pizza and
garlic bread. We were both pretty exhausted from our 5am wakeup,
so we went to bed early so we would have energy the next day.
Continue to Day 2
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