It's always been a dream of mine to 'road trip' around California. As appealing as it sounds, the idea of just jumping into a car with a rucksack and a map was perhaps a little impractical in reality. My husband and I could only take 2 weeks off from work and that was pushing it as it was. So we decided to plan a bit, beginning our journey in San Francisco...
We spent our time, a little bleary eyed, getting lost amongst the steep, sideways streets, exploring the various districts and marvelling at the views.
Being a bit of a true crime fan, I was super excited that we got to visit Alcatraz Island. We were on the 'early bird' boat (the first one to set off in the morning). This suited us fine having been up at 6am with jet lag anyway. It also meant there fewer tourists on the island when we arrived.
We got our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge on the boat ride over. Followed by Alcatraz Island itself.
The prison is no longer in use but the place is steeped in history. I would definitely recommend the audio tour which takes you through a step-by-step account of various escapes and stories that happened with voices from actual convicts who spent time there.
In 1962, 3 men managed to escape off the island (which was said to be almost impossible to do). Their bodies have still not been found and the case remains open making it the longest ever manhunt in US history. (You can see the hole that they created to escape from their cells in one of the pictures above).
Ironically, the views from the prison island are spectacular. It must have been pretty bleak to arrive on the island as a prisoner with the 'free world' so painfully close.
The jet lag for the first few days was pretty weird but we kept walking, exploring and eating to help overcome it...
In n Out Burger is a must visit when in America. They seem to be everywhere and although it can be a bit of a hectic queueing process it is so worth it. A bit like an upmarket version of McDonalds.
Our next day was spent exploring the Potrero Hill area full of quirky houses and streets. I love how the architecture is a complete mish/mash of design. Every house is usually a totally different colour, style, height or material to the one next to it.
We had brunch at The Plow which was delicious. I would go early, put your name down for a table and then wander around the area exploring for an hour or so as the brunch queues can be pretty mega, especially on the weekends.
We then headed off to a baseball game. The weather was miserable but the Giants fans still turned out in full force. I can imagine the stadium is incredible on a good day with views overlooking the bay beyond.
It wasn't the most exciting match I've ever seen. Baseball is quite stop-start (a bit like cricket), but it was a fun experience and worth it to see some of the very intense and dedicated fans! It may have been a little more exciting for us to see a basketball game instead but our time in SF was fairly limited.
Before long it was time to pick up our 'Toyota' and head out of the city. We immediately upgraded (on a whim) to a convertable Mustang. It's often more reasonable to upgrade once you're actually there and see what sorts of deals the rental agents have. Now, as cool and exciting as this was for us, it's important to remember that almost ALL tourists upgrade to a Mustang so you can spot them a mile away! We were no exception.
If you follow my instagram, you'll know I have a bit of a coloured wall obsession. I made sure that we had a quick stop at this well known 'pink wall' in Linden Street on our way out.
We headed out of the city over the Golden Gate Bridge...
And off on our next part of the adventure.