Although San Jose is a fantastic area that I have just barely begun to explore, I’ve been interested in exploring other nearby cities and locations for awhile now. One place I knew I had to explore no matter what was San Francisco. And therefore I decided to take the plunge and knock out that bucket item upfront this weekend.
Coming back from work Friday after my first week at Cisco. I instantly decided it was time to really start exploring. I started looking into my transportation options and determined the trip was fairly doable using public transportation from San Jose. It would require a 10 minute walk to a light-rail train, a 40 minute to the “Caltrain”, and lastly a 1:20 hour train ride on the Caltrain before I arrived in San Francisco. I invited my roommates and one of them decided to accompany me on my trip. We sat down and worked out the remaining details and went to sleep to rest up for the great adventure the following day.
Leaving our apartment at 10am, we expected to arrive around 12:45pm. After walking to to the first train station, we realize our next transportation arrival time was off. We could do nothing but wait and hope it wouldn’t cause us to miss the Caltrain and change our destination to something even later. Although the light-rail ended up arriving 10 minutes late, the amount of stops were minimized and we were able to arrive at the next station in for the Caltrain. And that’s when we saw the train Caltrain pull up.
We didn’t expect an actual passenger train with two floors. It was quite the experience just in itself. To sweeten the deal, the ticket were fairly inexpensive costing me only $14 for a round trip to SF and back. However, the time of a trip increases drastically since it’s a train and therefore has to stop more times than I can count between San Jose and San Francisco alone. We however made it to SF at approximately 12:45pm as expected.
Next on our list was Union Square. As we walking to the square, we came upon a protest involving GMOs. It was neat seeing police quickly shut down intersections and direct traffic as the group made it’s march down 3rd St. We continued on our way and saw some trolleys for the first time until we eventually were able to find Union Square Park. It was fairly laid back area with many people sitting around and chatting. In the middle of Union Square was the Dewey Memorial stretching up into the sky. Directly where we came from was a large Macy’s. We then saw the some more trolleys and the hills of San Francisco for the first time. I then realized San Francisco really wasn’t that flat at all.
Our next destination was the Chinatown district. We start climbing the hills and when we finally reach the top, we turn around and are amazed to see the bottom of where we had just started not long before.
After taking a few pictures, we continue on to Chinatown. As we start slowly reaching the markets, we stubble upon a Chinese Museum. Admission was free so we decided to take a few minutes to look around. There was some neat pieces and enough history to have you there for an hour. After looking around a bit, we continue our walk through Chinatown. We decided to get lunch and stopped in at Chinese restaurant to grab lunch.
At this point, we decided to should put our main priority (seeing the Golden Gate bridge) ahead of everything else we would like to do in case we don’t have enough time to do it all. Checking our maps, the Golden Gate bridge was a fairly far walking distance away so we decided to take a bus to the gate and then back after we were finished. After almost missing the bus due to us having troubles with finding the correct bus stop, we were on our way to the Golden Gate. Once we arrive and start piling out, I’m instantly amazed by the scale of the bridge. Sometimes seeing something in person is very different from seeing it in a picture or video and that held true in this case.
This however was not good enough for me. I knew I had to walk across the bridge. And so we started the 1.7 mile walk across the bridge. The wind was intense and made it feel like it was only 50 degrees out. However, the experience became unbelievable when starring at the top of the bridge from the deck and also looking out into the bay.
Everything could be seen from the bridge: Alcatraz, Angel Island, the route 80 bridge, and even San Francisco itself. The view of San Francisco from the bridge was pretty astonishing in person.
We continued walking across the bridge and soaking in the experience. I realized I’m even more glad I walked across the bridge because there is no way to fully appreciate the bridge when travelling across it in less than 5 minutes at 45 MPH. Therefore, I am recommending now to walk across the bridge if you are ever able to visit the bridge in person.
After walking the 1.7 bridge, we finally arrived at the other side. I looked for a way up to one of the cliffs that overlooks the bridge but was unable to find a short path on foot. Therefore, we went to another lookout and admired the view from the other side of the bridge.
It was now time to walk across the bridge for the second time to return back from where we came. Yes, I walked the bridge twice instead of catching a bus on the other side. The view back was just as stunning.
After finally reaching the San Francisco side of the bridge, we caught a bus and made our way back to the Caltrain to end our day. After a 7 hour trip, we finally were on our way back. Although we were unable to fit in time to see other attractions such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz up close, I wouldn’t be surprised if I make another trip up to SF before I return to Ohio at the end of the summer.
All I can say is that I’m glad I took the chance to visit San Francisco early so I’m even more eager to explore all that Northern California has to offer. Here’s a gallery of the rest of the photos I took during my visit to San Francisco.