USA Travel Diary Day 2 – San Francisco

California mural

Today I get to spend Mother’s Day with my gorgeous girls in San Francisco. And my son-in-law; he hasn’t been to San Francisco before, so we plan to cover the iconic tourist attractions.

Pier 39 sea lions
Pier 39 sea lions

We start with a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 39 with obligatory stop for sea lion spotting. An added bonus – there is a sailing event taking place in the bay and we get to watch quadruple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie in action as the boats hurtle past Alcatraz at incredible speed.

Sail GP in San Francisco Bay
Sail GP in San Francisco Bay

Working our way through San Fran must-do activities, we stop at Boudin bakery for soup in a sourdough roll before catching a tram to Lombard Street.

Boudin soup in a sourdough roll
Boudin soup in a sourdough roll

Well, that’s the plan – until we realise the tickets are $8 a ride and Lombard street is only two stops away. So, determined to get our money’s worth, we stay on the streetcar until the end of the line. It’s a fun ride – literally up and down the streets of San Francisco in the ancient tram, taking in the smell of burning as the brakes scream on the downhill sections.

Spring cable car
Spring cable car

We end up in Union Square. We really enjoyed our tram journey but now we are the other side of town and have a long walk back to the car. There is a brief discussion about whether to take the direct route through town (a steep 2 miles) or along the Embarcadero (further but flat). We (they) decide on the steep option with detour to walking Lombard Street en route – yay?

Riding the San Francisco cable car
Riding the San Francisco cable car

We set off, walking through Chinatown, where the lion dancers are practicing for a performance later on.

Lion Dancers
Lion Dancers

There are a lot of murals in Chinatown. My children don’t share my fascination with street art and get somewhat frustrated by the numbers of stops required to photograph various adorned buildings. They are particularly vexed when I stop to photograph a third Bruce Lee mural.

Bruce Lee mural
Bruce Lee mural

We reach Lombard Street and begin our ascent. There is a constant stream of cars driving down, with phones and selfie selfie sticks hanging out of windows. But we are the only people actually walking up it. It’s actually not that tough a walk and we reach the top fairly quickly, take the obligatory photo and descend back towards Ghirardelli Square the other side.

Lombard Street
Lombard Street

We figure that with all the miles (and elevation) we’ve covered today, we’ve earned a Ghirardelli milkshake. But the queue is massive and daughter No 1 is not renowned for her patience So we give up, return to the car and drive to Golden Gate Park.

Umbrella Alley
Umbrella Alley

We round off our San Fran sightseeing 101 trip with a drive through the western end of Golden Gate Park, stopping to see the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, which is in full bloom, and the Bison Paddock. We don’t venture far into the park; it’s getting late and daughter No 2 is not happy about the lack of milkshakes and keeps muttering about blood sugar levels.

Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden
Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden

So, we return to Palo Alto, via Safeway for snacks and White Claw to consume while waiting for dinner to be delivered. Do Mother’s Days get any better than this?

Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park

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