#FOMO San Francisco - a vibrant mix of people, places and views
You're gonna meet some gentle people there, also some tech geniuses, old-school hippies and a strong LGBT community.
There is something bohemian in the air of San Francisco still. Maybe it's the fact that you can hear jazz playing in most of the little restaurants you pass by or it is the real arty looking people you see when you move away from the tourist attractions.
The fact that in recent years the city has turned into a mecca of tech billionaires has undoubtedly affected the spirit (and the prices!) of the city. But the rich cultural life and that hippie movement that once made history are still far from dead!
There is a stark difference in San Francisco and the rest of California too. The climate, the hilly streets, the number of people you meet make you feel like you have ended up in a different state, if not universe.
I spent two days in San Francisco, far from enough for me to see everything and my #fomo on this city is still very much active. But it was enough for me to fall in love with the place and definitely put it very high, if not top of my list of destinations.
My top experiences
Cable car ride
Not getting on a car cable when in San Francisco is like going to Venice and totally ignoring those gondolas around you. A definite city icon, the last manually operated cable car system in the world, is in the heart of the old-school charm of San Francisco.
The fact that you can literally hang from the car without anyone pointing it as a safety hazard is an extra bonus :)
Trip to Alcatraz
You get the chills as you approach the island of Alcatraz - the mere view of it, the story behind it and some appropriately chosen suspense music all contribute to it.
The fact that Alcatraz used to be a military prison makes the place dark enough, but all the stories about it being haunted get it on a particularly spooky level. The more you hear about it and the closer you get to the island, the more you start believing there is some truth in those legends, no matter how skeptical you may have been initially.
The multiple escape attempts despite the risk of drowning, the number of people declared insane after spending some time in the prison, topped up with some mysterious deaths .. This is one mind-blowing tour and I can assure you you will remember your trip to Alcatraz even if you don't end up hearing anyone crying and screaming in agony in a visibly empty cell!
VW van tour
And let's not forget that apart from chilling mysteries, San Francisco is home of the true hippie culture! And what better way to experience it than driving around the city in a vintage VW van.
Going to Haight-Ashbury, which is to date home of a large hippie community, in said van, made me want to jump on the streets singing "Let the sunshine in" (thankfully, I didn't!).
The 4:20 clock on the street corner, proudly celebrating the smoking of marijuana, also contributes to the free-spirited vibe (the story goes that a group of students used to gather and smoke every day at 4:20 with 420 becoming their code word for weed, which later went viral so to say).
A quick visit to the neighbouring Castro District, one of the first gay districts in the United States, solidifies that feeling of San Francisco being a place that drove change in the past and still very much embraces it today. No wonder that the city has one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the world!
Golden Gate Bridge
The true icon of San Francicso, Golden Gate Bridge, is a magnificent construction, surrounded by breathtaking nature and you just cannot take enough photos of it!
It may no longer be the longest suspension bridge in the world, but it is still considered an engineering marvel of its time and remains one of the landmarks of California (check out my post about other California attractions here).
Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39
"You cannot go to San Francisco and not try the local seafood," you will regularly hear before your trip and you will also be rightly pointed to the Fisherman's Wharf to do so.
Apart from plentiful restaurants offering amazing fresh seafood, the wharf is also the home of a whole cheerful community of sea lions- a delight to see and listen to.
Palace of Fine Arts
Situated in the marina district of San Francisco, the beautiful rotunda constructed in the far 1915 to exhibit works of art. A work of art itself and surrounded by a picturesque park, the Palace of Fine Arts is a very popular wedding spot and certainly shows yet another face of San Francisco.
The Painted Ladies
A famous raw of colourful Victorian houses, coquettishly giving you a different perspective of American architecture. This particular raw has appeared in numerous TV shows, movies and ads.
And so much more...
A pair of two prominent hills called Twin Peaks (disappointingly not related to the TV show!) offer a spectacular view of the city.
The Union Square in downtown San Francisco could delight you with a variety of department stores and also gives you that New York vibe with all the surrounding tall buildings.
There is nothing entertaining about the extreme housing shortage in the city, which has in turn left many on the streets. But I admire the way those homeless people of San Francisco have somehow managed to turn themselves into a city attraction, many of them holding colourful welcoming signs and chatting somewhat merrily to passers-by. We had a fun encounter with one of those people who asked us to buy him a coffee and a sandwich, but politely insisted it was his favourate latte and cheese and bacon toast that we got!
And endless list of restaurants and bars with live music and other attractions await in San Francisco. So whether or not you wear some flowers in your hair, go there if you ever get the chance to!