One of my plans to make this year my Best. Year. Yet include traveling to explore the world around me. And that includes being open to opportunities that are presented to me. So when the chance came to return to one of my favorite cities, San Francisco, I didn’t hesitate too long (if at all). I loved visiting the city last year and knowing there were many areas still waiting to be explored made me eager to visit. Of course the prospect of escaping Michigan’s snow and cold also had me ready to pack weeks before the actual trip!
It was a lovely 55 degrees upon arriving in San Francisco. Just what a girl dreams of when escaping the snowy Midwest. A beautiful day greeted me on my first full day. The best part for me? Sunshine, temps in the high 50s, blue skies and….NO snow! Those simple facts filled me with gratitude.
I stayed at an apartment in Telegraph Hill/North Beach area. Filled with great restaurants, shops, cafes and more, this area is perfect for walking. Okay, really the city is perfect for walking. Granted, walking the city streets is a bit different than walking the flat streets of Michigan, but just keep in mind that your legs are getting a fabulous workout!
Not wanting to waste a great day, I quickly got ready to head out on my first morning in the city. I wanted to visit Alcatraz Island this trip so hoped to make a cruise departure on this pretty day (and rain looked possible in the coming days). I found walking directions to the pier where the ferry departs. No big deal.
I started laughing as I rounded the first corner. I forgot that some of these streets are pretty much straight up (or down depending on your direction). Eek. So my first street led me uphill. Then it led me up steps. Then it led down again. Somehow the street became a series of wooden and concrete steps that kept going down, eventually landing at another street, which led, blessedly flat, to the waterfront and piers. I easily found Pier 33, where the Alcatraz Cruises dock. Well, unfortunately, many others also thought visiting the island on such a gorgeous day was a great idea because the cruises were sold out for the day. Whoops!
With so much sun and warmth filling my soul already, I simply purchased a ticket for the following morning and went on my way. A long day stretched before me. So exciting! I walked along the waterfront to Pier 39, which is full of shops, cafes, restaurants, entertainment and pretty water views. I purchased a coffee and pastry (and received a free cookie!) and kept wandering the piers. I eventually came upon the sea lions near Pier 39, who were also soaking up the sunshine (albeit much noisier than the humans observing them). I found a bench spot to enjoy my coffee and pastry with the sea lions. What an amazing way to begin the day!
Caffeine fill complete, I walked along the street, wandering in and out of shops. I decided that it was a great day to visit the Golden Gate Park. Funny story about that plan…..I accidentally put Golden Gate Bridge welcome center in my Uber app, which is not the same as the Golden Gate Park. Whoops. I didn’t realize this error until we got closer to the welcome center, but I was already there so decided to roll with it. And it ended up being a welcome mistake as I scored a great Uber driver who shared many local facts as we drove along the waterfront and park boundaries. And the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is quite beautiful. The only downside was some buildings being closed due to the government shutdown. But the park trails and sights were open. And a lot of people took advantage of it! I’m always thrilled to see so many people outdoors enjoying nature, fresh air and our parks. I must look friendly and approachable because I lost track of the number of people who asked me to take their pictures. But it worked to my favor since I was exploring alone; they reciprocated when I asked.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has grown to include more than 75,000 acres, including Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island. I was dropped off near Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Promenade. The view of the Golden Gate bridge was amazing! When I was in San Francisco last April, the fog chose to fade in any time we were close to the bridge. Not this day. It was impressive to view the 4,200-foot suspension bridge. As you walk down the trail to the promenade, the views of Alcatraz Island and downtown San Francisco could easily be seen. It was busy with walkers, sightseers and cyclists. I was a bit jealous of the people flying by on their road bikes. What a perfect day to be biking!
I took my time meandering through the area, enjoying the fresh air and people watching. I even found a bike shop to wander through (and practice willpower by not purchasing any clothing!). There are many signs to explain the historic sites, as well as places to relax. I finally headed back to the apartment to sit for about 15 minutes before deciding to wander around Telegraph Hill. I splurged on some delicious gelato, sat under a tree in Washington Square, and eventually found a brewery for dinner. By the time I walked back uphill to the apartment, my legs were sore and ready to relax.
It was a refreshing and fulfilling day in many ways, I didn’t realize how much my body and mind needed to get away to soak up sunshine, blue skies and warm, fresh air. Sometimes we need to step a short distance away from our everyday life to have the fog clear and see things from a different perspective, perhaps providing the clarity or answers you are seeking. How fortunate I am to have opportunities to explore places, soak up moments with special people and refresh my soul. Some may scoff and ask how a few short days away does all this for me – it’s all in your perspective and outlook, my friends.
Where do you visit to clear your mind and refresh your energy?