The moment I stepped out of the BART on our first day in SF and was greeted by blue skies and clean streets, I told Ken, “I think I’m gonna love San Francisco!”
And I do love her!
#1. SF experiences the four seasons but yet not the extremities of weather. I don’t think it will snow in California but well, the folks would experience the change in seasons all right. So, you can still be clad in those stylo-milo coats, jackets and UGG boots. It’s the place to see and be seen!
#2. The people are friendly and have a relaxed disposition. Drivers slow down or stop for you so that you can cross the street, even in the absence of a zebra crossing. They are not rushing and definitely not horning. I also found that the people take themselves less seriously and are always equipped with a smile if you look at them. It is also a very liberal city and we have all sorts of people on the streets. I love people watching (esp those of the same gender holding hands and kissing =p) and this is absolutely a great place to do that.
#3. Because of those friendly drivers, SF is THE place to cycle in. Choose cycling as the mode of transport to tour the different places if you like. Since it has nice weather, you will miss a lot if you don’t go out and shed some fats! There are many who run in this city, giving a healthy image of its people. Runners were seen along the Ferry Building right up to Fishermen Wharf and Fort Mason which is likened to our Mount Faber. Along the Marine coast overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, there were cyclists and runners alike. Nice and relaxing feeling, just like our ECP, only better.
#4. SF is a natural gym with all those hills! Besides being a fantastic place to jog in (on levelled ground), it also provides those who love to walk a great work-out! Just make sure you have a good-enough pair of knees to walk in. For cyclists out there, these hills are a killer. Train in them and you will be excellent on hills in no time at all. Having said that, I’ve not seen a cyclist on those hills yet.Because of those hills, one of the things you must do and which I like is to take the cable car (which cost $5 per ride or buy a 1-day or 3-day pass). It’s like a slow-moving roller-coaster when it goes up and down the hill. Try standing at the edge to ensure more excitement. Be prepared to queue up too…sometimes, it can be a LONGGGGGG wait.
#5. Die-hard fans of Chocolates would love SF. You have Ghirardelli, a former chocolate factory which has a building of its own with 3 cafes selling various assortment of chocolates and those drinks and ice-cream sundae. You might want to consider that after you have worked out those leg muscles and need a rejuvenation. And of course, if your luggage is not that heavy, buy the chocolates as souvenirs! Oh! I forgot to mention that there are more chocolate stores in the Ferry Building, a place which I love because of the many eateries there. It’s another place for people watching. …TCHO FActory Tour – an hour-long experience which includes a presentation and factory tour. Pier 17 on Embarcadero@ Green St. http://www.tcho.com/where-to-buy/tour
#6. I love the Ferry Building Marketplace! This is a popular destination with eateries and artisan food shops. Atop the building is a large clock tower modelled after the 12th century Giralda bell tower in Serville, Spain. According to a guidebook, some of the favourites in the Ferry Building Marketplace are Miette (miettecakes.com), San Francisco Fish Company (sanfranfishco.com) and Sidekick (cowgirlcreamery.com). For me, needless to say, I chose Miette to have a taste of their Parisian macaroons.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is also the spot for a farmers’ market on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings with colourful displays of local produce, meat, cheese, flowers and more. www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
#7. I love Boudin Bakery Museum! Which is located along Fisherman’s Wharf. Before the latter was on a map, Boudin Bakery was making bread for San Franciscans. Going through the history at the museum (which is also a cafe and a bakery), I couldn’t help but be drawn to the making of sourdough bread and have a risen level of respect for bread-baking. This place is a MUST-GO. (www.boudinbakery.com)
Anyway, I was so hyped-up after the education on Bread at Boudin (basically, the science of it) that I decided to buy Tartine Bread in which Chad Robertson explained the science of baking bread very clearly and the pictures are taken very well too. At that time, Borders sent me an email informing members that they would have 50% off any item. But after chilling in Borders for a good 3-hour reading the book, I thought I should put the purchase on hold. However, the least I could do was to visit the bakery itself. Thank God Ken was agreeable and we walked all the way to the Tartine Bakery. Watch the video here.
As expected, there was a long line when we reached. Gosh, waiting in the cold to buy a loaf of bread and people pre-ordered them too! It was rather crazy; the small cafe was filled with people in the queue!
And so, the Queks had bread for the next few days of meals. It was really darn big!
#8. Chinatown & Japantown. The Chinatown in SF is really big which is really not surprising since there is a large population of Chinese (Cantonese) in SF. You can find authentic Cantonese cuisine here and what surprised me more was the presence of those Cantonese Yum-Cha place with many older Cantonese folks, just like in Hong Kong! Even the Wanton mee that I had was similar to the one I had in HK. Yea! After days of eating burger, you really are thankful for something Asian. I had my share of the pastry too -the beloved 老婆饼.
More about food tours:
–> Chinatown Walking Tours – visit dim sum teahouses, peek into herbal shops and participate in a tea ceremony with author/chef Shirley Fong-Torres (www.wokwiz.com)
–>Gourmet walks – Take a stroll to discover the city’s best in chocolate, wine and a burgeoning foodie neighbourhood. The signature Chocolate Tour Satiates every sweet tooth. The Chocolate and Wine Tour is also sipably superb. (www.gourmet-walks.com)
–>In the kitchen with Lisa Culinary Excursions. (www.inthekitchenwithlisa.com)
On New Year’s Day, we went to Japantown. Unfortunately, many of the stores were closed. Thank goodness, Kinokuniya was open to the public and it was a joy to just flip the pages of those Japanese books, never mind if you don’t know the language; they always have good pictures in their books. At that point, I felt like learning Japanese again, just so that I could understand what’s written, especially those cookbooks. Will somebody please translate???!!!
I had another craving that day – Japanese Ramen – and so we went into Sappora-ya for a bowl of Ramen and Okonomiyaki. Oiishi!
Ok. I’m sorry I kept blogging about food but I was just at the tip of it! You’ve got to realise that the people are serious about food and they try to have organic ingredients as much as possible and use seasonal produce from regional farmers. So, you are assured that the food you eat is of quality and the chefs take pride in that! It’s a food paradise and with big names like Alice Waters and Thomas Keller in this region, you are spoilt for choices! The only thing you should watch out for are the holes in your pocket/wallet.
#9. If you like architecture, you would love the many houses that line the streets of SF, especially those at Alamo Square and the Marina. I was happily taking pictures of these houses and one local came up from behind and asked, “Are you from San Francisco?” Nope. “Well, the house that you took just now belongs to Janis Joplin!” Looking at our blank faces, she went on to explain that she was a well-known singer in the 60s/70s and asked us to youtube her.
Well, if you know her, probably you are not born in the same period as I am. =p
#10. There’s something for everyone, young or old! For the artistic people and historians, there are museums of all kinds and for the shopaholics, you would love Union Square. And for the
nerdy scientific people, you have the exploratorium = Science Centre. The hubs love it there while I was bored to tears 10 minutes into the building. It was a nice experience nonetheless and I’m sure kids love it!
There you have it. These are a few of my favourite stuff in SF, not forgetting the long and (sometimes) arduous walk around the city. Goodbye, SF!
“Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible. ” ~Walter Cronkite