One of our favorite urban destinations in California is the city of San Francisco. Gilberto and I have visited this place numerous times, and there is always the insatiable mystical aura in the city air that allures us to come back. Is it the magnificent bay view? The challenging hilly streets? The delectable cuisine? The melancholic sound of the foghorns?
San Francisco skyline
The Fairmont Hotel
Gilberto and I were greeted with a cloudy weekend in San Francisco, a little bit dismal for summer. Summer fogs in San Francisco is however, not unusual. While the Angelenos were toasted by the merciless heatwaves during the week, the San Franciscans still enjoyed a cooler climate, even flaunting two-layer fashions with matching scarves and boots. Gilberto and I checked in at The Fairmont Hotel, situated on the highest point of Nob Hill in the heart of San Francisco. We love the hotel's location - within a walking distance to the fashionable Union Square, the financial district, the Chinatown, museums, trolley stop, fine restaurants and with little determination, the Fisherman's Wharf. The hotel is also the perfect starting point for our walking tour around some of San Francisco's famous landmarks and scenic routes.
what's in Fairmont hotel
view of the Trans-America pyramid from our room
our walking tour route
Gilberto and I started our walk on the corner of California and Mason streets. Heading west on California street, our first stop was the Grace Cathedral, located on the corner of California and Taylor streets. The Grace Cathedral, with its imposing architecture is the third largest Gothic cathedral in the U.S.A. It is the seat of the Episcopalian Diocese of California. One of the highlights in the Cathedral is the famous Ghiberti Doors. Also known as the Gates to Paradise, the door is a copy of the doors of the Baptistry in Florence, Italy.
The Grace Cathedral
The Gates to Paradise
Heading north on Taylor street, Gilberto and I enjoyed peek-a-boo views of the Trans-America Pyramid in between streets. This rendered a different perspective in viewing this famous icon. Also on Taylor street are rows of Victorian houses, all equipped with emergency escape ladders. The fear of heights is not an issue so it seemed, for those living on the top most floor of the building. Edging our way northward led us to the beautiful Russian Hill. Walking upwards on the very steep hill, Gilberto and I felt our calves and leg muscles working hard to reach the top. Our efforts however, were compensated by the splendid views on the hilltop. The panorama extends all the way to the bay area and Alcatraz.
view of the Oakland-Bay Bridge from Russian Hill
Walking downhill on Taylor street, Gilberto and I headed west on Lombard street toward the famous crookedest street. The street is a series of switchbacks purposely built to slow down the traffic on the hill's very steep grade. The crookedest street as it is commonly known, is the most colorful street in San Francisco. Triangular flowerbeds on each side of the winding segments are planted with hydrangeas in different colors. The houses on each side of the street are also painted with different color thus making the street lively and fun to drive through or walk up and down the hill.
the crookedest street
view from the top of Hyde and Lombard streets
Going east on Lombard street, Gilberto and I walked our way toward the Fisherman's Wharf. We turned left onto Mason street from Lombard and walked all the way down to its end. Mason street ends on Fisherman's Wharf. It is also the final stop point of the cable cars. As shown on the picture below, a cable car is manually turned around for its next trip.
The Fisherman's Wharf is a souvenir shoppers' paradise. Rows and rows of shops, restaurants and various entertainments line the streets and the pier. The Alcatraz Island can be viewed from the pier. Tickets to the island and for bay cruises may be purchased from the nearby kiosks.
the Fisherman's Wharf
bike rental shop
It was almost lunch time so Gilberto and I took the trolley from the Fisherman's Wharf back to the hotel. Our tired legs could no longer tackle the steep walk on Nob Hill. Our legs needed some rest and a trolley ride appeared irresistible and certainly, fun. The ride took us to the streets that pass through some parts of the Italian village, the Cable Car Museum and Chinatown.
walking down Post Street to Union Square
After lunch, Gilberto and I were revved up for the second segment of our walking tour. From the hotel, we walked south on Post street down to Union Square. The Union Square is the shopping mecca in San Francisco. This is where the brand names in fashion are found. Serious shoppers converge on this side of town eyeing for the latest in fashion in addition to what is hot and on sale.
do you see an elephant?
a favorite store
Old St. Mary Church
We took Grant street heading north to Chinatown. The Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest in North America. On the corner of Grant and California streets is the Old St. Mary Church. The church is the first Catholic church built in San Francisco. From the church, Gilberto and I simply meandered around Chinatown. Wandering around the undulating streets took us to the world of dimsum, herbs and spices, teas of all kinds, temples, pagodas and fortune tellers. Chinatown is a truly different niche for even the lamp posts are adorned with twisting dragons.
lamp posts and pagoda
a lively street
Gilberto and I felt that we had covered some of the important points in the heart of San Francisco. It was time for us to head back to the hotel for a good rest. Our legs were awfully tired! We did get some real good exercises while having a fabulous time. Till our next travel destination, happy reading!