After waking up at 2:30am to start my long day of traveling I made it to the golden city and met up with my best friends and travel buddies for the next 12 days: Sarah and Myles. Luckily we were able to find flights from our various cities to San Francisco that landed within half an hour of each other so once I arrived we were immediately on our way to start exploring!
After quickly briefing ourselves on the BART train maps we bought tickets with just enough money on them to get us to the Union Square stop on Powell Street. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the views we saw after walking up the stairs from the underground stop and how I felt seeing the San Francisco architecture all around us for the first time. After soaking it all in for a few seconds and making a wrong turn or two we eventually made our way to our hotel; the Hilton at Union Square.
Luckily we were able to check into our room right away even though we had arrived a few hours early (it never hurts to ask if a room is ready!) so we dropped our bags off and hit the streets of San Francisco. About 5 minutes after we started walking around a bird pooped right on my head (a sign of good luck) so I knew we were off to a great start ;). Sarah was kind enough to wash it out of my hair inside a little pizza place we found on the street using the free water from the soda machine right next to people eating so I’m sure they loved having us there! Anyways, the Hilton Union Square was in the perfect location and we were able to walk to Union Square to see the Christmas decorations and more amazing architecture before walking a few more blocks to China Town.
Entering China Town was like entering another world and we loved wandering the streets and exploring the shops full of Chinese snacks and candies (Sarah even picked up some licorice lemon ginger candies that you can watch us try here!). Once we worked up an appetite we chose one of the many Chinese food stores on the streets and ate lunch. We also stopped at a tea shop before leaving and got to chat with the nicest guy working the shop while sampling all different kinds of tea. One of my favorite parts about California right from the start was how friendly everyone we met was.
After exploring China Town to our hearts content we took an uber to see the famous Painted Ladies! We didn’t realize that the house from Full House is actually a decent walk from the row of Painted Ladies so although we didn’t get to see that, we still loved getting to see the beautiful architecture of the Victorian houses.
After marveling at the painted ladies for a few minutes we started walking the streets from beautiful house to beautiful house. Eventually we ended up in an area called Hayes Valley which was the cutest neighborhood filled with more gorgeous architecture, adorable small businesses, and quaint coffee shops. It would be an absolute dream of mine to be able to live in this area some day, definitely my kind of place.
Once we walked the streets until our tummies were rumbling and our feet were hurting we headed back to our hotel for a much needed rest. For dinner we decided to just walk around the area outside of our hotel until we stumbled upon a restaurant we would want to eat at. We ended up at Bartlett Hall where I got a margarita pizza and a Bartlett blonde ale. The vibe of this restaurant was so cozy and welcoming, I absolutely loved it! We cheers’ed to a successful first day of traveling and finished the night by walking back through Union Square to see the Christmas Lights.
We ended up falling asleep almost immediately after getting back to the hotel at 9:30pm as all the exploring and jet lag had finally caught up to us. It was the most perfect first day to our trip that I could have ever imagined, bird poop and all, and I went to sleep with the excitement of all that was to come flowing through my head.
I’ve decided to write Myles, Sarah, and I’s favorite parts from each day down at the end of every blog post so here it is from day 1:
Myles: Exploring Hayes Valley
Sarah: Also exploring Hayes Valley
Hana: Of course, wandering around Hayes Valley
(I told you that Hayes Valley was awesome! I promise we have more varied favorite parts as the trip goes on 😉