San Fran - Little boxes on the hill side

As we rolled into San Fran with the weekend traffic it was as much excitement to be in a new city as it was relief to ditch the car. As much as a benefit the car was we were keen to get away from having to battle traffic and that damn GPS voice over bitch! There’s only so many times you can hear “recalculating route” before you lose it completely and it was not a moment too soon!

Neon Monster

On the freeway in it was nice to catch glimpses of the stereotypical San Fran hills and period buildings. We had a bit of time and fuel (car had to be returned back as empty as possible – insane, I know!) on our side so we decided to head out to Neon Monster. Its just out of the way enough to make it a bit of a hassle to get to and being a lone store it warrants a dedicated trip, but its definitely worth it. Bout the size of your regular boutique shop, the space is divided in half between collectible vinyl toys and books. There’s a good range of both but what makes this store a cut above the rest is the prices. Most full priced items were less than most places we had come across and there were plenty of items on sale or marked as clearance, most notable was the “twofa” deal on Kidrobot plushes. Sadly, about a month or two ago they closed their doors for good, however they have kept the online store running. Other art commitments were cited by some of the staff as their new focus so we will be sure to keep our eyes open for their work.

Heading to the CBD it was nothing short of a 70s cops and robbers movie with the steep rise and falls of the San Francisco landscape. If by chance you have hired any kind of “sports” car, take extra care as even with the 4wd riding height of the Ford Focus we were bottoming out on some streets and that was before the “spirited” driving 😉

Arriving in the downtown area, went from bad to worse thanks to road works and one way streets, the looming deadline for car return wasn’t helping either. This was also the time we gave up on the GPS as it kept redirecting us to the road works and subsequent road closures. Switching to map only view and calling your own shots is definitely the way to go. Once that was sorted it wasn’t long before we found the hotel, unloaded our luggage and returned the car.

For the San Francisco stretch we chose to stay at The Park Hotel on Sutter (full review here) which was central to most amenities and was very reasonably priced.

Initial view of the city had hints of New York City. I was expecting it to be more laid back like LA, just less spread out but thanks to its density it was a lot more hustle and bustle like NYC. The driving and people’s attitudes at times reflected this but it only took about 15 seconds looking at a Google maps print out for someone to ask us if we needed directions, that’s always a good sign (:

Now car-less, our mode of transport was back to the humble public transport system, luckily SF’s Muni and BART systems are very efficient and quite easy to get your head around thanks to the smaller grid-like layout of the city.

Map in hand and a revitalised sense of discovering new frontiers we headed off to San Fran’s boutique shopping hub, Haight.

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here


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