The American Adventure 1: San Francisco!

The 7-day San Francisco tour, which we have been prepared for long since, ended in leaps and bounds! In this article, I will tell this wonderful city of America with my notes and tips. If you are ready to read about my experiences in the 7-day tour that started from San Francisco, continued in Los Angeles and ended in San Francisco again, I’m starting now!

Firstly, I have to say that I love airplanes. Just for that, to fly with A380 during departure and with 747 on the arrival, we chose a one-stop flight…

We flew from Istanbul to Frankfurt on Sunday at 6 o’clock in the morning, then from Frankfurt to San Francisco with a brand new A380.

There is a frequent food and beverage service during flight. Still, if you think its frequency will not be enough, do not forget to take some snacks in case of getting hungry. No need to beverage, all kinds are served always during flight.

If you are making an airport transfer you do not need a transit visa at the Frankfurt airport. You can check this information from website of German authorities. You had better to check it before travelling. If you Google “Transit visa”, information will show up instantly.

When we arrive, it was Sunday about 13.00. Total trip takes a total of 13-14 hours. May be a little more with the airport transfers, I couldn’t remember clearly. Starting ON Sunday morning and arriving at Sunday noon after 13-14 hours of travel, was a little surprising for me. This was my first transoceanic flight.

We didn’t seem very affected with this flight when we arrived. There is a moment that they shut the curtains on the plane. If you catch this opportunity and have some sleep, you will feel ok at the end of the flight. I heard that they adjust the timing accordingly, I guess that is true. But, on the way back, it was took 2-3 days to recover, I will tell it later.

You can watch 3-4 movies during the flight. I couldn’t remember how many times I have watched Midnight in Paris, but I watched it again.! There are trains from airport to the city center of San Francisco. If you call Uber (as we do on the way back), it costs about 40-45 bucks plus 5 for airport tax, so a total of 50 bucks. The train is cheaper, about $8. You may need some help to get on these trains called BART. Because, ticketing is a little different. There is an automat to buy tickets. This automat displays the information how many dollars must be loaded on your card for each station. You have to find your station and put the related cash (you may put more) to the automat, so your card will be credited and you will be ready to go. Then, you can board in the train. When you arrive, you have to scan your card at the exit. It allows you to leave if there is enough credit. Otherwise, it allows you to make some additional payment, but be careful this amount is limited. If you couldn’t complete the amount with paying more, don’t know what will happen, god help you.

The train trip took about 30-40 minutes and we got off at the Powell Station. This station is at the center of San Francisco. We head to the hotel with our baggage. First impression is a kind of different. Unfortunately, the streets smell. There are so many homeless that we didn’t see this much in Europe. Of course, their condition is misery and you should not look at them with disgusted eyes. Anyway, we did not do this, but their situation made us a little sad. Most of them sick, this is obvious from their look. However, they don’t harm anyone, they are just waiting you to put some coins for food or drink in the box in front of them, that’s all.

I have to add, there are some places that dangerous homeless are living, and the receptionist warned us firstly when we entered the hotel. He opened a city map, drew a circle on it and warned us clearly: “Do not go to this place”. After a while, when we were rolling in the city with Uber, we passed from that place and the driver told us that there are lodgings with only accommodation in that place, and those who are staying there, receiving about 200 bucks a month from the state and they mostly spend this money to the drugs.  The churches of this area serving a meal at the evening hours, so these people fed in that way. I recommend to stay away from that area, I think it’s not bad to suggest such a thing.

An incredibly energetic receptionist welcoming us at the entrance of the hotel. He advises to the guests with the map, where to see, where to eat and which music to listen. Additionally, they have a group making music at the hotel’s lobby at nights. With the energy of the receptionist, we forgot our tiring journey, 14 hour flight and 1 hour train plus walking to the hotel. We were already looking forward to discover the city, so after leaving the baggage in our room, we started to explore the city.

Our hotel is located on the Sutter Street. Walking to Union Square from here is just 15-20 minute walk. The path is safe. There some Italian restaurants and an Irish Pub on the way that you can have a break. We arrived to Union Square with this way. This was a sparkling square. The store of many famous brands like The Westin St. Hotel, Apple Store, Macy’s, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany&Co, Mac, Lush, Nike and Sketchers are located around. Most of them quite expensive as you guess. But, I can say, Sketchers is cheaper. You can visit Macy’s after walking around. Macy’s is a place with a department store concept. Like Boyner and Mudo at Turkey. There are products of many different brands, cosmetics, clothing, furniture, technology, toys and accessories. It is always crowded. The stairs of the Cheesecake Factory located on the upper floor of Macy’s are full of line up.

Each day a different country’s flag flies at Westin St. Francis Hotel. I couldn’t take a shoot last night, but it was the flag of Turkey.

We had to finish the shopping –actually we didn’t, we were starving and exhausted- and head to Chinatown, where we curious about. We had to walk some according to the map. It was getting dark in the meantime. We started walking. At first, do not forget that San Francisco is full of hills. If you walk on the parallel streets that ok, but I must say you have to climb the big hills if you walk on the up and down directions. As in this example: You have to climb during 20-25 minute walk from Union Square (it’s located at the bottom) to the Chinatown. The most practical solution is –we want to explore around and also we didn’t know- using the famous Cable Car, which is a combination of tramway and funicular. You can get rid of climbing the hill by getting on these vintage cars, which the driver announces “Goes to Chinatown!” Payment is made in cash on the vehicle. But, it wasn’t cheap, as I remember, I paid 8-10 bucks only for a 5 minute trip on the following days.

Cable Cars are everywhere…

Chinatown is a legendary place. If you didn’t see China and wondering its colorful shops, restaurants, lighting, billboards, decorations and etc. you have to see the Chinatown. Anyway, you have to visit Chinatown if you are in San Francisco, it is an experience you should not miss. It is giving a little festive feel. We could continue to look around for hours with admiration, however, we were hungry.

We checked places to visit from Foursquare. There are some famous places. One of them is Z&Y. A small restaurant, which was previously visited by Obama, there is always a line up in front. But, we chose the Great Eastern, the second restaurant in the list. It is a bigger restaurant, we got a table in 2-3 minutes. Besides, Obama was visited this restaurant also, if you are interested. I prepared a video of this place, located at the end of the article, may give some idea. Prices are fair. The remaining details are in the video (in Turkish). (Because I forgot to close fisheye mode, my face looks gigantic, sorry for that)

The next day I was alone and had some time. I visited the Chinatown again, because I couldn’t get enough. Don’t worry, I will not spend much time here, will talk about other places soon. Everything is priced with Chinese currency here. I entered a shop to print out some of the beautiful photos that I shoot. The shop is also a bill payment center, GSM shop, lottery office and office of many other things… I found myself on the streets of San Francisco again, because the prints would be ready after an hour.

There are many Starbuck shop on the street, but I didn’t need to get into any Starbucks in Los Angeles. Instead, there are many local cafe shops, the coffee is very fresh and the desserts incredibly delicious at these shops. For example Brioche Bakery&Cafe located on the Columbus Avenue. I ordered these;

I made some setup 🙂

Then, I continued my street tour. You can see central offices or big regional offices of the many social media websites or famous technology companies, when you look around in San Francisco. I came across with the LinkedIn and Yahoo almost on the same Street. Actually, the center of San Francisco is very close to the area, where all these companies located. The place I mention is Palo Alto or San Jose cities –or districts– I’m not sure about the administrative structure.

I must say, later, I had a chance to visit San Jose. I went San Jose to see a friend -Alican- who I had spoken for many years, but I didn’t get a chance to meet until that day. We are friends thanks to our Harry Potter adventure. When looking back, we’ve known each other for 12 years. We managed a Harry Potter fan site and shared many. Since this website has an importance for me, it can be the subject of another article. Easier said than done, we know each other for 12 years, I couldn’t guess we will meet first in the United States. I went to San Jose with Uber. This is the fastest way to get there. We hung out and chatted. He showed me his workplace, he is an engineer in a technology company. It was short because, I have to return back, but lovely hours. I was also happy to write about. Anyway, let’s focus on the trip.

It was evening hours, when I returned back with BART train. Because we were starving, we looked for the best hamburger in the city. Hamburger is important for me. If I’m going to take the sin of getting so many calories, the patty must be delicious and qualified to worth it. The advices directed us to Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers. We found the place, it was a very small restaurant. There were only 3-4 tables and it was very crowded. We chose our hamburgers and started to eat. It was really very delicious. I hope you will not desire it, because I inserted a photo below, maybe I’ll cause you to try it… I’m pinning this hamburger to the first place of my America tour. The second delicious hamburger was in Los Angeles. I may mention about in the next article, if I shot its photo. The prices are fair, we ordered fries with hamburger. Fries are not included in the hamburger menu, you have to order separately. But the fry plate was gorgeous, order only one plate if you are two people.

We stopped by Walgreens to buy some stuff. Actually, this place like a grocery store, but because medicines are also sold in the public stores in the United States, so we may consider it as a pharmacy. We bought many things because a long journey was waiting us on the next day. We thought that the best way to discover a country is taking to the road as we do in every country. We will set off in the morning to visit a mutual friend making academic studies at Los Angeles, and also to visit the Los Angeles and Hollywood which we see always from far away. Instead of the main highway, we will use the Highway 1, the most celebrated Pacific coast drive, also subjected to many documentaries and travel articles. The further details will be in the next article. The remaining of the San Francisco will be in another article. I hope I didn’t bother you and provided some advices…

See you!

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