This got me ready for breakfast at the Ferry Plaza Farmers market. Held three times a week, it has an amazing range of local, fresh and often organic fruit and vegetables.
I bought the most delicious peach I have had for years, As the juice rolled down my fingers, I marvelled at the difference to the supermarket ones I buy from time to time. No comparison.
I also bought raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. YUM!
Listening to the music being played by the musicians around the market and watching the buzz i wandered inside the wonderfully restored ferry building. I was tempted to buy fresh buttermilk biscuits (thinks scones for Australians, New Zealanders and British people) or organic steamed pork buns but resisted. My destination was Recchiuti Confections, the best chocolate store in San Francisco according to me and yelp!). I love their Burnt Caramel Almonds. I learnt that they ship all across the United States but was disappointed to learn that their ginger chocolates no longer contain Australian ginger.
I popped across the road to Noah’s Bagels on Market Street weaving my way through the outdoor craft market for a bagel with cream cheese!
Nearby is the Municipal Railway Museum which for a train geek is a must visit every time. It is small, friendly – and free. Best of all they are the nicest place to buy the Muni passes which are essential if you are planning to take more than one a cable car because they save so much money. A cable car ride by itself costs $6. A daily pass is $14, three days is $21 and five days is $27. You can use the pass on every bus, streetcar and subway of the Muni transport system but not on the other systems that also move through San Francisco. For those I have a Clipper card which is the area’s multi modal transport system.
Today, I bought three books from the Museum:
- Railway Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden – and signed by him
- Transit Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden – also signed by him
- History of the Muni system
Yeah, I am a geek.
The streetcar (tram) outside the Museum is for the F Streetcar line to Fishermans’ wharf. I always get on there because you are more likely to get a seat as the next stop is always very busy. This line uses historical trams form all over the world. I have even ridden a Melbourne Tram in San Francisco! Today’s tram was originally from Philadelphia.
Confession: I hate Fisherman’s wharf and Pier 39 don’t understand why every tourist feels they have to go there! I like the sea lions that have been living there for the last 20 years or so but that’s about it.
The other feature I love is Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. A tradition of mine is that on every trip I have a Cable Car Sundae: Rocky road, chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping, home-made hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. It used to have a chocolate cable car but now they just have a chocolate and a cherry. They also now use corn syrup in the fudge which has spoilt that a bit.
I took my sundae out of the noisy crowded store and sat in the Maritime Park opposite gazing at the water and out across to Alcatraz. Its a very peaceful park. Sadly, I am assuming the sundae cancelled out my run!
A short stroll to Hyde Street and the line up for the Hyde and Powell Cable Car. This is a very popular ride and if the line is too great, I walk up a couple of stops hoping to sneak on there. Today, was fine. I flashed my Muni pass so the ride was free. My favourite spot is to stand at the back of the car with the conductor. This is my favourite cable car line with a couple of amazing hill climbs. I rode to the top of Russian hill and hopped off to gaze at the view across the bay. I never get tired of it. Back for the next cable car – this time grabbing a spot standing holding the handrails at the front- and down the hill to California Street where this cable car line crosses the California Street line. I have now almost got my money’s worth for my $21 three day pass with $18 worth of cable car rides! and my $2 streetcar ride).
From here I walked to Grace Cathedral. I got a tourist to take a picture of me but it didn’t come out! The Cathedral has an amazing rose window and an indoor and outdoor Labyrinthh that I always try to walk.
Back on the cable car, down to Grant Ave for Chinatown. The sights, smells and noise of Chinatown are great fun. I grabbed a pork bun from one of the amazing noodle shops. After it, I ate the delicious apple bought at the markets earlier.
I walked back from Chinatown to the Union Square shops. I popped into Neiman Marcus which is a beautiful store (I have yet to buy anything there!). I noted that my favourite Borders is gone and felt a little bereft of a rainy day browsing spot. I was looking for jeans but don’t find any at Ross or Old Navy that I like. The shopkeepers told me the stores are full of Australians spending their Aussie dollars that are now worth so much more!
I cross Market Street into the SOMA (South of Market). This used to be dodgy but has been revitalized extensively. One of my favourite stores, the Container Store is here and I looked at Kitchen storage items which I cannot carry with me this trip!
A short walk away is SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Great building with very enjoyable exhibits. Right now there is one on about Dieter Rams, the top designer from Braun. Its amazing how art like many of their appliances are and an exhibition full doesn’t seem out of place. He developed ten principles for good design which are used by other companies including Apple.
The Contemporary Jewish Musuem is near by. They also have great exhibits but I don’t get to visit them today.
From there I caught BART to the Mission District where the City’s Central American population are centred. I was in search of Pupusas, my favourite El Salvadorian food. Its a tortilla stuffed with beans or meats or cheese.
The restaurant that I have been to before for my fix was completely empty. That made me worry: has this restaurant “lost it”? When my corn chips arrive, they are burnt. Now I was concerned. However, the pupusas I eat are perfect. The accompanying salad is fresh and delicious. The store has none of my favourite Salvadorian drink: Kolashampan but I am still happy!
There are two ice cream shops nearby but I was good. (I will go back tomorrow for some from the Ice Creamery but give Mitchells a miss!).
From there I walked to Mission Dolores Park where there were hundreds of people gathered for an outdoor showing of Top Gun. Amazing atmosphere. After that, it was off to meet some friends for a drink.
A perfect day in an awesome city!
My ratings of San Francisco
97.4% – Third favourite city in the world.
Positives: Aesthetics, Art, Food, Music, Theatre, Sport, Film, Public Transit and overall liveability
Negatives: Safety with some quite sketchy areas, high housing costs
Average Hotel Room: $135.58 (Hotels.com)
Would I visit again? Definitely