Golden Gate Bridge
Transportation: If you have no one picking you up from the airprot, I recommend using Super Shuttle, a transportation service that ferries travellers to and from the airport. In order to avoid long waits, make a reservation at least 48 hours prior to your departure flight. Cost depends on airport proximity to your final destination but whatever the amount, it will definitely be about 70% percent cheaper than using a cab. Rich, the nicest guy on the entire earth, was an incredible host. Our first destination was the Golden Gate Bridge, a true achievement of architectural genius; it looks even more impressive in person -- I was in complete awe. Isn't it ironic that the most marveled works of architecture were built in eras long past? One would think that with our current rate of technological advancement, the architecture of today would surpass the engineers of the past. Ironic indeed but I digress.
***ADDITION*** Transportation tip by LJK: Depending on one's destination, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is also a good option. There's a station that runs right from the airport.
Rich and I: Don't be fooled by the sun -- the breeze moved with a sting.
Our next stop was brunch at Circa. The food is beyond scrumptious and you definitely cannot beat bottomless mimosas for less than $10. Yes, that's right, all-you-can-drink mimosas for less than $10.
My visit coincided with Santacon. I had never seen so many drunk santas in my life.
Spectacular view of San Fran skyline on the boat ride to Alcatraz Island. The Alcatraz tours sell out like hot cakes, so I would recommend booking at least 48 hours ahead your planned time. The boats move fast and the entire thing is orchestrated with impressive efficiency.
Entering the Island
One of the many haunting structures on the Island, relics of a disturbing American past.
An eerie shot taken on the day the prison on Alcatraz closed its doors for good in 1963.
America's most notorious criminals inhabited these cells
San Fran skyline from Alcatraz
For late lunch, Rich took me to Tony's Pizza Napoletana, an internationally-acclaimed and award-winning pizza joint. And let me tell you something --- the pizza is damn good. Tony's hands (and everyone else in that magical kitchen) were made to sculpt dough. I cannot tell you what potions they incorporate in their ingredients but I can tell you that from the very first bite, they cast their spell on me. The wait to get a seat is insane and by insane I'm talking hours (yes, it is that good). I recommend making a reservation hours in advance.
No trip to San Fran is complete without visiting The Beats Museum. To every lover of literature, San Francisco is somewhat synonymous to the Beats movement. This was the car used in the movie On the Road, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac's acclaimed novel by the same name.
I stumbled into a neighboring bookstore and saw Chimamanda Adichie's novel Americanah on display. She's been getting a lot of press lately because global superstar Beyonce used a snippet from her famous speech on feminism in one of her new songs. This is great exposure for the talented Chimamamda. I'm happy for her.
I definitely had to visit the street named in Kerouac's honour
And of course Vesuvio Cafe, one of Kerouac's favourite hang out spots in the city. All in all, a FANTASTIC trip. San Francisco is one of those cities I could definitely see myself living in...maybe when I'm an older, much much older ;-)
Are you guys doing the whole new-year-resolution thing? I never do because, let's face it, no one follows up on those resolutions anyways. This year, however, I do have one resolution: gratitude, regardless of my circumstance. I'm tempted to add more items to the list, but I will practice restrain. Happy holidays and have a joy-filled new year.