We began our holiday in San Francisco, a city we’d visited before, but long ago (when we were young!), when our budget meant we had to stay in a youth hostel and live on whatever we could cook in the hostel’s little kitchen. This time the budget stretched to a hotel, and so things were a lot more comfortable.
In many ways San Francisco is a beautiful city, but it’s also one with a lot of deprivation. There seem to be big areas that are best avoided, and while that’s true of any city, San Francisco’s no-go zones seem to be on a rather larger scale than I’m used to.
We travelled around by bus, and I did not always feel safe – I certainly wouldn’t have felt safe taking a bus by myself there (and I speak as a member of a public transport using, car-free household). The area around our hotel was not the best – passing through it dampened our spirits a little every time we ventured out.
On the other hand, the nice neighbourhoods are VERY nice, and they have pretty views and lovely shops and places to eat. And there are wonderful public parks – Golden Gate Park is an inspiring place, with a huge range of scenery and activities. We spent a day there exploring the California Academy of Sciences, which is a modern and envrionmentally-conscious museum. They have a light and bright building containing two domes. One houses their planetarium (FANTASTIC!), and the other houses a tropical environment containing birds and butterflies (also fantastic!). And underneath all this is an aquarium (fish!). It’s a great place – even the catering facilities are worth going to. If you go, my advice would be that it’s warm in there: the tropical dome feels tropical, and so you need to have layers on, and ideally a fan with you.
We headed straight from the park to the Bi-Rite Creamery, an ice cream shop so in demand that people (us included) queue round the block for a taste.
Our wait was 40 minutes, and while I hope I don’t have to queue that long for ice cream again, I really didn’t mind. I had salted caramel ice cream, and it was lovely. (Later on the trip I tried a second salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Seattle, where I didn’t have to queue at all. I wonder if this is a flavour we’ll see in the UK soon?)