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 Francisco.

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.

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.

Bay Bridge

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.

Lombard Street

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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