Finding affordable digs in San Francisco was complicated by my lack of faith in Amtrak’s schedule. Too many bad reviews on tripadvisor led me to believe I’d better book a hotel with a 24 hour front desk. I didn’t particularly want to stay around Union Square, and all the hotels in Marina and North Beach were too expensive, but I finally found a deal on booking.com for the Hotel Tomo in Japantown.
Not the most popular area, perhaps, but it worked well for me. It took about as long to get anywhere I wanted to go, and besides plenty of Japanese restaurants, the Japantown complex boasted the Kabuki spa, where I indulged in an excellent shiatsu massage and a long soak in a hot bath (not quite hot enough, actually, I think the baths were hotter in Japan).
Like Chicago, and unlike New York, San Francisco offered transport passes – the kind that allows unlimited rides for a set period for a set price. I love them, as I can jump on a bus for just a couple of stops, or simply to see where it will take me, without worrying about the fare. I had bought my Chicago pass over the net, and had it mailed to me, but in SF I bought it inside the nicely renovated Ferry Building, where the Amtrak bus from Emeryville dropped me. (The Ferry Building is also the site of the bustling Saturday Farmers’ Market.)
Even with the pass I got plenty of exercise in SF, and not only because I took several walking tours. The bus system was excellent, but I still had to walk between buses, and sometimes I just chose to walk – down from Coit Tower one day, and following Stu Dudley’s walking tour of Fillmore Street another. Then I loved Golden Gate Park, which to my mind left New York’s Central Park in the dust.
I enjoyed marvelous weather, just one damp morning, and one misty evening, interrupted hot days and blue skies. Perhaps it was the sunshine, but I loved San Francisco. Not that I want to move there – far too many hills, and I think I’d have trouble getting used to all those long views down the very straight streets, disappearing over the horizon – but I definitely want to go back.
More on SF to come…. (BTW, I’m posting this from the train to Seattle, the Amtrak Cascades has wifi.)