6 hours in San Francisco

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I had an evening to myself for exploring Silicon Valley after my commitments at San Mateo. I chose to visit San Francisco primarily for a closer view of Golden Gate Bridge and a Segway tour. Though I couldn’t see Golden Gate Bridge from up close, I experienced quite a bit of the city and am hungry to come back for more.

3:30 – 4:30 PM (San Mateo – Embarcadero)

I got few important tips and suggestions from the cab driver who dropped off at the Hillsdale Caltrain station at 2.30 PM. Caltrains are double-decker trains connecting the Silicon Valley to San Francisco. I bought the daily pass for Zone 1-2 which cost 10.50$ and got onto the train at around 3.15PM to reach San Francisco Caltrain station. There onwards I boarded a light-rail (costing me about 2.25$ a ride) to the Embarcadero station.

Although it was too windy that day, I was undeterred as the harsh cold in Ithaca had prepared me to withstand the worst of cold weather conditions. I had seen on the map that the route to Pier 39 went alongside the shore. I hence chose to walk from Embarcadero station to have a closer look at the city and beauty of the shores. As soon as I got out of the station, I was surrounded by high rise buildings of the financial district.

4:30 – 5:30 PM (Embarcadero road – Pier 39)

I made my way to Embarcadero road where piers from #1-39 are lined up beside each other. Piers were originally used for docking stations but now customized for various reasons. The walk to Pier 39 was beautiful with waters on one side and people with various types of commute on other side. There were modern version of Tanga, light-rail, and people on skateboards and cycles to name a few. The smooth tarmac and a clear weather made it perfect for these commuters. SF is well connected with various options of transports. At pier 27 (cruise ship pier) I saw a massive cruise ship which looked majestic. Pier 39 and the area around was eventful. I didn’t know that most of the entertainment spots were there. It had a “Diagon Alley” kind of area which housed various shops and restaurants ranging from sea food offering to apparel. There were view-points offering breathtaking views of waters, bridges, mountains and islands.

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM (Street walk – Ice cream)

I had booked the 6PM Sunset tour at City Segway tours. The start point for the tour was Jefferson Street. Enjoying the street performances (one was so similar to Michael Jackson) and passing by Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, I went to an ice cream parlour named Cold Stone Creamery. Opting for the Founder’s favorite which was made up of sweet cream, pecans, brownie, fudge and caramel, I soon realized that it was the best ice cream I had yet.

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (Segway tour)

The Segway is a two-wheeled self-balancing battery-powered electric vehicle. The rider controls forward and backward movement by leaning accordingly. Cost of the tour was 60$. I was fortunate enough to be the sole customer of the City Segway tour for the evening. I met the guide, Ross at the office where he showed a safety video and gave us some basic instructions about using Segway. I had already tried it once back in India and thus was pretty confident about it.

I was all set for the tour of the city with a helmet, reflector jacket and gloves. We first visited the aquatic park pier, which had beautiful views of the San Francisco city. Although not from close, I got a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We proceeded to North Beach, where Ross spoke about the Italian neighborhood and Saints Peter and Paul Church which is located at #666 Church Street (666 being number of the Beast).

We then made our way to the base of Lombard Street, which looked crazily amazing with the steep road lined with houses. The next part was the most scariest and adrenaline-rush-causing part of the trip. Since I was comfortable with Segway, and the only one Ross was guiding, he took me on one of the steepest roads. It was normal initially, but somewhere in the middle I felt that I would fall. Ross helped me reach safely to the lower level. It was exciting and a unique experience. Then we went to top of a hill (Coit tower) which provided a beautiful view of the bay bridge connecting SF to Treasure Island, Oakland and Berkeley. By now I was very comfortable maneuvering Segway and I even managed to cover the steep roads and narrow paths comfortably.

Passing by the Italian restaurants near North Beach we headed to Chinatown, catching a glimpse of the Chinese lifestyle. As we passed alleys where kids were learning martial arts, Ross showed me one of the oldest fortune cookie maker shop. We also saw the shooting location for a scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The hanging lanterns in Chinatown added to authenticity of Chinatown. It was surprising to know that Segways were legal on roads and could be taken almost anywhere. I feel that Segway is the best way to tour the city, as most parts of SF have steep roads.

Passing through financial district, we took the Embarcadero road to reach Pier 39 and then back to office. I thoroughly enjoyed the Segway tour and I highly recommend to tour SF in a Segway rather than in a car/cycle.

8:00 – 9:30 PM – (Dinner at Fog Harbor and back to Caltrain)

Numerous sea food restaurants tempted me to try something out and after browsing through Yelp for a few options, I choose to try the Fog Harbor. The restaurant was on slightly expensive side but provided nice view of the waters and delectable food. I ordered a cheese Garlic Bread and King Salmon. I enjoyed the boiled potatoes more than the grilled Salmon itself. After filling my stomach, I took the F-line light-rail, followed by Metro to SF Caltrain Station and waited for the train to reach Hillsdale. It was around 11.15 PM by the time that I reached. Choosing Uber to reach my destination I was overwhelmed by the simplicity, low cost and safe service. I am definitely choosing Uber over anything in the future for non-public transports. I made the most of the time I had and I am glad I visited SF. I relished moving around the city soaking in the local life.


Nikhil Navali

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