Day 5 in San Francisco – Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, Telegraph Hill, Haight-Ashbury and Alamo Square 

We woke up early this morning and took the BART train from the Mission (16th and Mission station) to the Embarcadero and then walked down Market Street a little ways to check out the Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market (if you’re wondering how to get around on public transport, either MUNI buses or BART trains, it is very easy to check the schedules and route maps online. You can even just go to Google Maps and type in where you are starting from and where you want to go, and it will tell you which buses to take and where the stops are located. Every morning, I would check the updated transport schedules and take cellphone screenshots of where the bus stops were located, the times and schedules and a map of the bus/train route so that I could access them on the go, since I cannot use my iPhone data in America. It is really quite simple!).

The market was huge and they had tents set up all the way along the pier with every kind of organic fruit and vegetable imaginable. It was like a dream come true for me, as a vegetable and fruit lover! It was obvious that peaches were in season and we sampled a few different varieties. They were all so sweet and fresh! There were vendors selling heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, jams, cheese, sauerkraut, flowers, herbs, peaches, meat, colourful peppers, fresh bread and much more. I wish Winnipeg had a year round farmer’s market as amazing as this and with this much variety of organic produce! We bought a small container of organic strawberries and enjoyed eating them while admiring the views of the Bay Bridge on the pier. There was a woman sitting on a bench next to us eating some food she had bought at the farmers market and there were two seagulls who were sitting on the railing of the pier, looking intently at her food. They were very interested and looked like they were going to attack her at any moment (but they didn’t)! We sampled jams, cheese, peaches and nectarines. There was a musical band comprised of three siblings playing and singing popular cover songs, just outside the market and they were so amazing to listen to (They are called the College Fund Street Band, if you’re interested in looking them up). We took a peek inside the Ferry Building, where there were lots of unique and interesting shops and little cafes and restaurants. It reminded me of The Forks in Winnipeg. We looked around and then headed off.

We walked along the Embarcadero Street from the Ferry Building to the Greenwich Street (just down a path, to the left of the Embarcadero) and then started hiking up the steep Greenwich Steps towards Telegraph Hill. The steps passed through beautiful gardens and trees with gorgeous houses perched on either side on the hillside. I counted and we climbed over 400 steps to get to the top of the hill! It was a steep climb and my legs were so sore by the time we reached the top! I had to take multiple breathing breaks on the way up. The views from the parking lot of Coit Tower were amazing! You could even see the Bridge.

We noticed that there was a line-up to get into Coit Tower. We waited in line for the elevator at Coit Tower but once we saw how long the line was and how long of a wait it would be, we decided to scrap that plan (it also costs $8 to go up the elevator to the top of the tower). We admired the views of the city from the base of the tower and then walked along the road on Telegraph Hill for a little ways. We admired the views of the city from here (for free!). The view from the road driving up to Coit Tower on the hill was amazing.

We then walked down towards the Embarcadero via the Filbert Steps. These steps were even more beautiful than the Greenwich Steps. The steps were surrounded by beautifully lush gardens and densely treed areas as well as gorgeous homes tucked away amongst the trees on both sides of the steps. It was a beautiful walk! It was nice to be able to walk down the stairs and give our legs a break from the constant climbing everywhere you go in San Francisco. We made it to the bottom and walked back to the BART station (Embarcadero station along Market Street) to go back to the Mission. We relaxed at our apartment for a bit and made eggs for lunch.

In the afternoon, we took the MUNI #7 bus to Alamo Square and checked out the Painted Ladies, which are a famous row of colourful Victorian houses, that I believe were featured in the opening credits of the show Full House. The houses were beautiful and they had so much detail in their architecture! The park was located on a hill (of course), and the higher you climbed, the better the views were of the city and downtown high-rise buildings peeking up above the Painted Ladies. It was a very nice park and it would have been a lovely place to stay and relax and spend an afternoon.

Then we walked around to the other side of the park and discovered some even more gorgeous homes on that side! In my opinion, these houses were nicer than the Painted Ladies and are definitely worth checking out.

We then walked to the next bus stop and took the MUNI bus #33 towards the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, for our second visit.

I enjoyed exploring more of this eclectic and unique neighbourhood. The population is so diverse, from hippies to druggies to homeless people to street musicians to the average person. You will see some interesting fashion sense and some interesting people around this area. We walked down some different residential streets near the Panhandle neighbourhood and park (along Oak Street) and found some more lovely houses. The Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood is filled with unique independent shops (tattoo parlours, smoke shops, vintage clothing shops, music stores and little cafes and eateries). There is a really great sidewalk market called Haight Street Market with a great selection of fruits and vegetables. There are lots of homeless and drug-addicted individuals wandering the streets and they tend to congregate on certain street corners. I love this neighbourhood because it has so much character! I did not feel unsafe at all when walking here in the afternoon. The aroma of marijuana can be smelled everywhere you go in this area and people are openly selling it on the sidewalks, despite it actually being illegal in California. I saw one young guy holding out his hand to passersby on the street, with a large clump of marijuana in the palm of his hand. People definitely don’t try to hide what they’re doing!

We walked a little ways down Haight Street, not really having a destination in mind while just wandering and taking everything in. We then discovered a heavily treed park on top of a large hill called Buena Vista Park (we found out the name later). I love finding hidden gems while wandering new cities and having the flexibility and spontaneity to visit them! We decided to climb the hill to the top, where we were rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the entire city! It was so beautiful and probably my favourite view of the city, in my opinion. Being among the trees, the park felt so secluded, despite being in the middle of the city. There was hardly anybody there at the time, just a young couple sitting on a bench at an open clearing in the trees, overlooking the view. It was so quiet and peaceful and I really enjoyed hiking through the tall California trees and forest. I’ll warn you, it was quite a steep hike up to the top, but it was worth it!

We walked around the park for awhile and then as we were walking back along Haight Street, we discovered this beautiful row of colourful Victorian houses that I had seen a photo of in my Lonely Planet San Francisco guidebook! I had been hoping that we would find these houses at some point and we did! We took some photos and admired the houses, and then continued down Haight Street (the row of houses was located at the corner of Haight and Central Streets).

As we were walking along Haight Street, we stopped in a pipe shop, because we saw some magnets from the store window that we were interested in checking out. We decided to buy a magnet that had Golden Gate Bridge and city scape painted on it, with the words “San Francisco” on the top. I don’t usually buy souvenirs when I travel, but I think a magnet is a good thing to purchase to remember your trip (and they’re cheap). The cashier was so obviously stoned and he could barely type the amount of our purchase into the credit card machine! He wrapped our magnets so slowly and methodically (like this task was using every ounce of his concentration and focus) and his speech was slurred. It was quite amusing and we laughed about it afterwards!

We caught the MUNI #33 bus back to the Mission from Haight and Clayton Street and relaxed before going out for supper. We went to El Toro Taqueria, the same place we went last night, which is on the corner of 17th and Valencia. I ordered the “super vegetarian” tacos again and they were so delicious. The place was packed! We are looking forward to meeting an online friend of my mom’s tomorrow!

The Bi-Rite Creamery line-up

Haight Street

Colourful Victorians at Central and Haight Streets

The view from the top of Buena Vista Park

Random bulldog that wandered out of a barber shop on Haight Street

Houses on Alamo Square

The Painted Ladies on Alamo Square

Filbert Street Steps

Filbert Street Steps

View from Telegraph Hill, the road leading up to Coit Tower

Greenwich Street Steps

Historic streetcar along the Embarcadero

The Bay Bridge from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market






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