Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


June 15, 2013

San Francisco

After watching Full House as a little girl in New Zealand, San Francisco has been on my travel wish list and last year I got to visit for the very first time (properly! transiting through the airport on the way to New Zealand doesn’t count).

G and I visited on probably the busiest weekend of the year with Fleet Week, Jazz festivals, Baseball playoffs and parades happening all across town making if rather fun trying to get around town.

Our accommodation for our long weekend in San Francisco was the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins which sits on top of Nob Hill overlooking the great city.  The hotel has so much history and is truly a beautiful building with a number of 1920’s features including a postal chute (still in use today as my postcards made their way to various destinations around the world).

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco hotel exterior

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Hotel Art Deco Postal Chute

We were extremely lucky to be given an upgrade to the Presidental Suite which in one word was incredible, the joys of brand loyalty and being a Platinum member of the Priority Club.  The view was amazing and I could see Macy’s from the bedroom window which was dangerous for a shopaholic like myself.

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco view from Penthouse Suite

Our first night we spent at the Top of The Mark which is a fantastic bar and restaurant at the top of The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins.  The entertainment that evening included a jazz band and dancing, while the lights of San Francisco twinkled below us.

A cheeky little New Zealand Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc is including on the wine list and this Kiwi girl had to support the New Zealand wine industry while abroad, as you do!

intercontinental mark hopkins san francisco top of the mark new zealand wine dancing

Our first proper day in San Francisco we decided to catch the Cable Car and do a little bit of shopping.

We walked down Powell and managed to drag myself into a number of shops including Coach (new hand bag purchased) and GAP.  I love GAP jeans, and I was lucky to meet the lovely Charlotte who fitted me into my first pair of skinny jeans.  Charlotte is a super star when it comes to finding you the perfect pair of jeans even if you are like me with super long legs.

Obviously there are all the important department stores in San Francisco like Macy’s that you find in the majority of the big US cities however we stumbled across Gump’s which is pretty amazing for finding some kooky items and I love kooky.  They had their Christmas decorations out and I was in heaven!  If you only visit one store in San Francisco then make sure it’s this department store as they have such variety and some truly unique pieces on offer.

The prospect of walking back up to Nob Hill from Powell & Market wasn’t an option so we purchased a Cable Car ticket to get back to the hotel and then to visit the Cable Car Museum.

The Cable Car Museum is a must see and as it’s a working Museum it is pretty cool as you see the wheels turning.  I love transport museums, it’s the geek in me coming out as I find the history behind all the transport that we still use today to be really interesting.  The Museum is free and well worth a visit.

We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf which to be honest I just found slightly tacky and over priced.  If you are looking for tacky souvenirs then this is the place for you in San Francisco.  I was happy to leave and we stumbled up Lombard Street to catch the Cable Car back to the hotel.

The next morning we headed to China Town and again found this rather disappointing, I much prefer China Town in London.  However we had to purchase a cheap bag for all the additional items we had purchased so a third bag was required.

While the Cable Car is a famous San Francisco icon so is the Golden Gate Bridge and G wanted to walk across it.  It was an interesting day to walk across as it offered the best views of the Fleet Week Aerial display and of the city.  I love Bridges (it’s that geek coming out again) and I love Red so this was a complete winner for me once G had managed to coax me onto the Bridge (it was a long way down for someone who doesn’t like heights!).

golden gate bridge san francisco alternative photos

That evening we had tickets to the Baseball Play Offs at the AT&T Stadium to watch the San Francisco Giants Baseball team.  The concierge at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins managed to get us some tickets (a small fortune but so worth it).  This was our very first baseball game and what an experience it was.  The fans were incredible for starters, they were explaining the game to us and offering us nibbles and there was so much banter going on.  The atmosphere is truly amazing and there was a fly past of the stadium.  If you get a chance take in a game when in America, grab the opportunity with both hands as you will see how patriotic the American’s really are and its a great thing to see.  If visiting the stadium takes loads of clothes as its freezing!

AT&T stadium San Francisco Giants Baseball Game play offs

The morning before flying onto Las Vegas I had managed to get us some tickets to visit Alcatraz.  Such incredible history in one tiny little island and what a life all the inhabitants of the island had; not just the prisoners but the families including the children who lived on the island.  If you want to visit then make sure you book your tickets well in advance.  We took the first tour and it meant we didn’t have a lot of crowds to deal with.

alcatraz island prison san francisco

Our hotel was located on Nob Hill (still giggling!) which is quite a posh part of town.  It overlooks San Francisco and why you get such an incredible view from the Top of the Mark.  The area is amazing to walk around as all the buildings are stunning.

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Hotel exterio

There is so much more that I want to do in San Francisco that a return visit is required in the future.


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