Friday, May 6, 2016

[USA Travel] San Francisco - Castro District + Fisherman's Wharf + shopping

After a tiring non-stop drive of 5.5 to 6 hours from SLO, we finally reached San Francisco (SF) at around 6pm in the evening. Our stay was at a place called 'Beck's Motor Lodge', and we had arranged to stay for 2 nights. We chose this place because it is one of the few accommodations that had free parking. Apparently in San Francisco, parking is rather limited! 
 

 
To our surprise, the room was rather spacious, clean, and had assorted amenities/toiletries for us to use.
 
 
 
Our stay was located at the Castro District, and we had a bit of a surprise here. Castro District is also known as the first gay neighbourhood in the United States, and is considered the gay capital in the world. Rainbow flags were everywhere, and this was testament to San Francisco's liberal mind-set and acceptance for all Lesbian Gay Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activism in the world.
 
 
After putting down our belongings in the room, we walked down the neighbourhood to look for some dinner. The sense of freedom, acceptance and diversity within Castro was very real, as we saw a lot of gay/lesbian couples holding hands without a care in the world. As the song goes, 'All you need is love!'
 
 
We had our dinner at a Thai joint, and it was definitely an unforgettable experience for us! We (RKM), were the only straight couple in the restaurant and we appeared rather out of place as all the other patrons were couples of same gender! The dinner itself was rather good, as we had missed Asian food, and were rather pleased with the quality of it.

 
Next to our restaurant, there was a very notable and bright neon lighted marquee theatre called the Castro Theatre. After our dinner, as were rather tired from the long drive, we decided to just walk around Castro a bit and retire to bed early in order to catch the morning sun the next day. I had also caught a little cold as well, and Baby had to wake up at 7am in the freezing cold to get me some medicine from the pharmacy. I am glad to have him with me as he always does his utmost to take care of me.


 
 
On our brand new day in San Francisco, we wanted to experience SF's historic tram/rail line, so we decided to leave our car at our lodging area, and took the F-Line Fleet Tram that serves the route from Castro, to Fisherman's Wharf! The fare was USD2.25 per ride/pax.

 
 
 
We visited the main tourist attraction in SF, and it is none other than Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 39! We were greeted by over 90 shops, various attractions and 14 full-service restaurants.

 
  
 

 
One of the main sights at Pier 39 itself, is the large colony of Sea Lions who have made it their home. No one knows exactly why they chose Pier 39 as their colony, but the number od Sea Lions here are amazing. According to the notices at the pier, the numbers of sea lions grew quickly after a single stray sea lion came, and the colony has grown to over a number of over 500 since then!
 





 
Another viewpoint of interest is nearby Alcatraz Island, where the most notorious and hardened criminals were interred during the old days of America. The prison is now defunct and is now a tourist attraction!
 

 
We also went to the Musee Mecanique at Pier 45, and it is one of the world's largest privately-owned collections of antique arcade machines.










 
 
After viewing the seals, we were a bit hungry, and got ourselves a pre-lunch snack at the wharf! Apart from the crab sandwich, the crab cakes and oysters were especially succulent!

  
 
 
 
One of our main goals in coming to San Francisco was to eat 'Cioppino', which is a local delicacy from SF. 'Cioppino' had its origins from immigrants coming from the Mediterranean shores of Italy, and it was developed especially at the wharves in San Francisco for Italian families who used whatever seafood they could get, in addition to a healthy dose of tomatoes and garlic.
 

 

 
We decided to stop for lunch at the restaurant named 'Pier Market Fresh Seafood', which is located within Pier 39 as well. Upon entering the dining premises, we were given a window seat which allowed us to see the outside view, so I took this picture while waiting for our food to be served.
 
 
 
Apart from taking photos, I also found some crayons on the table, and the not-so-creative me started to scribble some words on the paper table mat. LOL!
 
 
 
 
Before we started our meal, complimentary bread was served.

 
 
We ordered a bowl of Cioppino, and it turned out to be a very rich seafood stew! Within the stew were salmon, prawns, clams, squid, and half a Dungeness Crab! The rich tomato stock complimented the seafood well, and there was even pasta within the stew! Baby thoroughly loved it, as did I! Apart from the Cioppino, we also ordered a plate of Sweet & Sour Calamari Rings to share. Both entrees tasted great! We had a wonderful lunch at Pier Market Fresh Seafood and I would recommend eating here if you ever visit!
 
 
We had a wonderful lunch Pier Market Fresh Seafood!
 
 
After our meal, we left Fisherman's Wharf, and made our way to Union Square by foot.
 


 
We walked by the Clock Tower atop the Ferry Building, and it was one of the more picturesque locations within San Francisco!
 

 
Union Square is the retail and cultural hub of San Francisco which boasts the city's largest collection of luxury, department and boutique shopping.

 
I went to Ross (Dress for Less) for some shopping, and I picked up some tops/dresses/shorts and 2 pairs of shoes! The first pair I got are from Sperry, and it cost me only USD24.99! The other pair was a pair Polka Dots casual shoes from Tommy Hilfiger, and I only paid USD25.99! What a deal!

 
Apart from the hauls from Ross, I also went to Marshalls as well. I picked up pink colored earphone from ear-piece from Skull Candy INK'D at only USD7.99!
 
 
 The pop collection set from Physicians Formula was only USD5.99!
 
  



 
It was time for dinner, so we made our way to San Francisco's Chinatown, which is one of America's oldest and richest in Oriental/Asian history and culture. San Francisco's Chinatown is best explored on foot! We stopped by a restaurant which offered HK Dim Sum as we were craving for a Dim Sum fix for dinner!




 
Although, the eatery place was run by a Hong Kong Family, the food items were not as authentic and delicious as those from Hong Kong itself... for obvious reasons, I suppose they had to cater to the 'Ang Mor' taste, but nevertheless, we had a decent Asian meal!
 
 
Thanks for reading, and next up will be my visit to Golden Gate Bridge!
 

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