United States of America · 3 Days · 53 Moments · July 2016

San Francisco fiesta

28 July 2016

Things to do next time: - Golden Gate Bridge: need to walk across the bridge and go to Disney museum (they have free shuttles there). Best time to visit is noon - 4pm. - Cafe de la presse: opposite from dragons gate in Chinatown. Parisian style cafe. - Golden Gate Bakery: try the hot egg tarts. Don't go there on Mondays because they might be close. - St. Mary Cathedral gift shop: if going with someone who's never been there. They're closed on Mondays. - Find Origami Fountains in Japantown. - Get green tea monakas from Kissako Tea - City Hall. - Old US Mint - Find musical stairs in Fisherman Wharf - Spend more time in Washington Square Park (potentially having picnic there? - Try Mama's (on Columbus Ave) - Biordi Art Imports (handcrafted ceramics) - Transamerica Pyramid. They're closed at 3 - Bakery tour in Boudin - Yummy Yummy Vietnamese restaurant (close to Golden Gate Park) - Shalimar restaurant (lamb brain masala). Not open until noon. - Honey Honey Cafe. Come early

27 July 2016

Cable car - Finally!!!! It was definitely worth the wait. Amazing how the cars were really old and could still make it up and down the sloppy hills without issues.
Norman's ice cream The Yelp rating was so accurate! This place is definitely a hidden gem! I got the ube flavor, which was Filipino for purple yam. It was sooo good! And the owners were so cute!!!
Ghirardelli square - Not much but shops. Typical touristy stuffs so I didn't spend too much time here. It's really close to the beach so it was cold!
Dutch Windmills - a neat small visiting site. Not too much to do but the scenery is pretty
Bison Paddock - it's like Yellowstone all over again, but much more depressing because of the fog and no bisons!
Spreckels Lake - so depressing because no sun!
7/26 - Street Performance. On fisherman wharf (after musee Mecanique). It was pretty fun. The MC guy was hilarious!
Rainbow Falls. Not sure why it was named Rainbow? The fall itself was pretty small and nothing impressive. But the sound was pretty loud and the mist was like fog on the road, so that was cool
Park Chow - this is a random place. Wanted to try Yummy Yummy restaurant but it was closed so I had to look for a place around this area. It was a pleasant turnout. The atmosphere inside was really warm. They even had a real fireplace inside. I ordered a Thai-style noodle soup (bc I was already in Asian mood) and it was delicious. Not too pricy either
This place smells amazing! Not the smell of dessert, but salty bread like pizzas so it was very difficult not to get a slice! I did end up getting the scone of the day (blackberry plum flavor) for $3.25. Definitely worth a visit! Next time I'll have to come earlier for some of their more popular breads
Strawberry Hill - quite a hike but nothing too bad. The view is OK but too far away and there were too many trees blocking the scene. Not really worth the hike.
Stow Lake. Very very quick stop on the way to strawberry hill
Japanese Tea Garden. Prettyish, but not worth the $8 admission fees. Free admission mon, wed and fri 8-9am.
Rose garden. This was a quick stop. California is just too hot and not enough water for roses to be pretty :(
Conservatory of flowers - inside exhibit p2
Conservatory of flowers - inside exhibit p1.
Conservatory of flower - outside
7/25 - Daiso Japan ($1.50 stores) Sooo many cute things! I bought disposable shower caps, two kitchen mittens and cookie cutters (flower-shaped). Just a cool place to browse around
Kissako tea was a big disappointment! They ran out of monakas!
Pretty displays in Japan center malls
Soko hardware (japantown) - normal. Very hardware-y. Not worth visiting.
Paper Tree (origami store) was so fun! I didn't know origami can be so diverse! They had books for origamis used in wedding decor, parties; books for making origamis from dollar bill and even business cards!
Cottage Row - pretty architecture
Sweet Maple - Crab and asparagus eggs Benedict for brunch (japantown area). Delicious!
7/24-28 First hostel part 2 One thing I found most interesting is their breakfast. It's more DIY style but there are quoite some options. We can make eggs (they have raw eggs with oil and pan for us to cook), have some hot oats (they make a huge pot of oats and ppl can get however much they want), heat bagels (there are about 5 different kinds of bagels and 4 different types of toasters), make toasts (abt a couple types of breads with almost 10 kinds of spreads like Nutella, peanut butter, etc), and even eat fruits! (They have bowls with pre-cut fruits and then we can use knifes to cut our own oranges or apples). Really really cool! I've never enjoyed breakfast on a vacation so much :))
7/24-28 First hostel stay ever! Well, it's a hostel so not the prettiest place I've ever stayed in. But not bad at all! And very interesting. The decor is kinda hippy. I have one twin bed in a 6-bed room with all females. Not a lot of space but manageable. The girls staying with me were pretty nice and easy to talk to. I have a curtain (for privacy), a shelf on top of my bed (to put some personal stuff), a reading lamp next to my bed, and a storage area underneath my bed (to put my luggages). I don't really stay in my room that much so it works out well. Plus, the cost was so cheap! I paid 50 bucks per night and the place is in the middle of downtown. Very good location. And really clean!

26 July 2016

San Francisco Playhouse - Watched "City of Angels". Very good show
City Lights bookstore - Very Harry potterish kinda feel. There's place to sit and read downstairs. Took a detour and read a little bit of "the food lab". My feet hurt too much from all the hikes earlier
Coit Tower - another extremely difficult hike (even worse than Lombard). I climbed up through filbert steps and then climbed down through Greenwich steps. Beautiful views I couldn't get on top of coit tower because there was a long line, but maybe next time.
Victoria Pastry Co. - tried this when I got to Washington square park because my feet were killing me. The creampuffs were meh, but iced latte was really good.
Musee Mecanique - antique coin-operated arcade museum. This place was so fun! There were about 200 arcade machines from a long time ago. They were all operating so we could actually play with them.
Boudin Bakery & Cafe - tried the classic New England clam chowder in sourdough bread bowl. Delish! They offered a bakery tour for $3 fee, but I didn't try that. Maybe next time? The place also sold a few fun kitchen stuff so worth checking it out.
Random candles from a pretty cool candles shop in Pier 39
Pier 39 - sea lions! So many of them! And so cute!
Fisherman Wharf - cruise around Alcatraz island (part 3).
Fisherman Whalf - cruise around Alcatraz island (part 2). It was super super cold, so I'm glad I bulked up! The view was amazing.
Fisherman Wharf - cruise around Alcatraz island (part 1). The cruise included audio tour, so that was interesting. Alcatraz prison sounds really cool. They even had their own band there :)). Next time I'll have to book Alcatraz visit at least a month in advance to get into the island.
Buena Vista Cafe - tried the Irish coffee (coffee mixed with Irish whiskey). It was strong but had very unique taste, so worth a try.
Cable car ending station
Lombard most crooked street. The walk was insane! Extremely difficult, so I wouldn't recommend anyone not very physically fit. But the view was definitely worth it.
Attempted to try the infamous cable car but the line!!! I ended up wasting an hour waiting and still couldn't get on the car, so I had to drop it. An early morning wasted :(.

25 July 2016

Mitsu teahouse was very close to Daiso Japan, so I stopped by there next. I ordered a guava green tea w/ cotton candy, which was delicious! The cotton candy was more for show than for actual taste, but worth the 99cents to try.
Random dog on the bus. So cute!
At the sushi "rescue" place After Palace of Fine Arts, my phone suddenly died! It was scary because everything was on my phone, even my bus ticket! I just randomly walked around the area for like 20 min and then saw a sushi restaurant so I dropped by (mainly to charge my phone). Since it was already evening time then, I just ordered a couple of sushi rolls (golden gate and summer rock) along with a glass of plum wine (it was so delicious!) to have dinner while waiting for my phone to charge. Fortunately, the food was good and the owner was really nice so I was back on track about an hour later. It wasn't bad but definitely could have turned worse so I'm bringing my portable charger from now on.
Palace of Fine Arts - p2
Palace of Fine Arts - p1 This place was very very pretty. Great photo op and just a great place to wind down and stop for a little bit.
After Little Saigon, I had to pause the fiesta to go visit Golden Gate urgent care for my ear infection. Everything was taken care of so smoothly and professionally, so it was a great detour. Will definitely recommend anyone visiting San Francisco to stop by there for any medical emergency. Next stop was Golden Gate Bridge. It was too foggy so I didn't walk across the bridge or do anything exciting. Will come back later for this.
Family Reunion After almost 7 years being in the United States, I finally got to meet Bác Hảo and Bà Phúc. I'm so glad they're very healthy and happy. They were extremely welcoming as well, which made the reunion a lot easier!
St. Mary Cathedral The view was breathtaking. Inside was very quiet and calm. I wanted to check out the gift shop, but it was closed too! San Francisco peeps don't really like working on Mondays, I think. Little Saigon was close, so I dropped by to try Banh Mi in Saigon Sandwich (very high Yelp rating). The whole area was kinda dirty and run 0down. Nothing exciting. Saigon sandwich was ok, a bit too sweet. If anyone wanted to try, go for roast chicken because roast pork was too fatty and oily.
Cable car museum - very cool. And free!
Chinatown - Dragons gate was smaller than I expected, but seemed pretty authentic. - There were gift shops selling interesting stuff, so I spent quite a few hours exploring here. - Old Saint Mary's cathedral (1st Asian church in North America) was next stop. It was just like regular church, nothing very special. I went to gift shop as well; would be a great place for anyone who's religious. - Portsmouth square (birth of San francisco) was very chinesy. Small and now more of a residential place than a visiting place, but since it's allegedly the birth place of San Francisco, I gotta check it out! - Golden state fortune cookie factory was pretty cool and cheap. I got 6 cookies for $1.50. The place is small (just like everywhere else in San Francisco), but seeing the machine was fun and the smell of freshly made fortune cookie was worth the stop. - Ross alley was a lot shorter than I expected, but not bad.
Union Square - As usual, no good vacation can happen without a great cup of joe and so cafe encore was inevitable. I ordered a Torani steamer, which is coffee with flavored milk. It was pretty good, so I will probably recommend friends to try. - Then I just walked around union square. There were so many high-end stores and they all had very Greeky architecture, which was fun to see. Stopped by a hat shop to buy a hat for my grandpa but the price was pretty hefty and I didn't know his size. - American conservatory center was a small disappointment. Nothing is wrong with the place, but I expected a lot more going on. It was more of an acting school.