I saved the Golden Gate Bridge for my last full day because I figured it would involve a lot of walking, which I was finally up for doing by Wednesday.
Kaiti and I started our day at Turtle Tower, a well-known Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin area. She recommended I get their chicken noodle soup, which was good, but came with so many noodles that they sucked up all the soup before I had finished even half the bowl!
While planning for my trip, I had read that Tenderloin was to be avoided, but I couldn’t be sure how sketchy it really was. Kaiti seemed to be fine walking through it by herself.
After our brunch, we walked around the area trying to buy a box of tissues for our drippy noses (I had forgotten to bring my usual cache), and I decided that those cautioning against traveling through Tenderloin had the right idea. Everything was run-down and far less cute or well-maintained compared to the rest of the city. There were also a surprising number of Vietnamese restaurants — interesting that these businesses coexist peacefully alongside the sketchy Tenderloin population?
We finally found some tissues at a Walgreens. The ramshackle bodegas we tried were no help.
Then, onward to the bridge! For some reason the address that Kaiti put into her Lyft app directed us to the other side of the bridge, so we drove back and forth across it for no reason (including paying the extra tolls?!). At least it saved us the effort of walking across it I guess.
I saw quite a few of these GoCars around the city. Three wheels with hardly any visible protection from the elements/other cars — doesn’t look very safe to me?!
The bridge doesn’t look very impressive when I’m standing next to it, almost like it’s some kind of fake backdrop!
We hung out for a little bit at the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, but there isn’t much to look at except other tourists, so we took a car to Lands End for some much prettier views of the coast. I was intrigued to find a collection of coloring books (for adults, presumably) available in the gift shop. I guess it really is a thing now.
The trails at Lands End are surrounded by Monterey Cypress trees, which are non-native but very striking. The area is very beautiful and peaceful (though we did encounter a couple of wailing babies), perfect for a romantic walk or meditative hike.
On the western side of Lands End are the ruins of the Sutro Baths, an expansive and glamorous bathhouse from a century ago. Visitors are allowed to climb all over them, which is pretty fun.
After all the uphill walking from the previous day, I was not psyched to see more stairs. After the stairs, to only way to get down to the ruins is via a steep, gravelly slope, which was actually very scary! Kaiti got stuck at the top for a bit even though she’s been here before multiple times LOL.
The beach was beautiful, in a melancholy way. We spied a lone fisherman on the rock. (At least, we assumed he was fishing…but how many fish can you catch on the beach like this??)
Near the baths is also a random tunnel, in the middle of which is a hole that’s a result of the pounding from the waves. The sound of the water echoes loudly throughout the whole cave.
I guess the water collected in the ruins is just stagnant, because that stuff was nasty! Plus all the rocks nearby are stained white from bird poop.
For no real reason, we decided to walk down to the other end of the baths and hike up the side where we had just seen two people scramble down. They made it look easy, as did this lady in the pink shirt, but we got lost somewhere along the way and ended up taking the scenic route. It was a fun little adventure but my shoes got so dusty!
After resting our feet, I wanted to go to the Golden Gate Park and see the bison. Well, it was an unimpressive sight, as the bison were just huddled in their little feeding area and not moving around. I got one blurry picture. Oh well.
By this time, we hadn’t eaten for a good few hours, so we went to Charles Chocolates, which was at the top of my desserts list. If you look at the photos on Yelp or Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking this chocolate shop mainly sells sandwiches. They do an afternoon tea on Sundays, which I guess is more photogenic than the rest of its products.
But the chocolate!!! It was already almost 5 p.m. and we had a dinner reservation for 6:30, but that did not stop us from indulging in some chocolatey treats. We were the only ones in the store, so we took our time hemming and hawing over our choices.
The nice saleslady strongly recommended the canelés, which neither of us had ever had before, and they were indeed delicious! We also got a huge caramel chocolate chip cookie and a s’more — they make their own chocolate, marshmallow and graham cookie. Yummmmm. Even better was eating our desserts on the sunny patio!
Of course I also picked up two bars of chocolate, after sampling them in the store. (That’s literally all I brought back from SF — chocolate.) I loved how smooth and creamy the chocolate was!
We were full but still found room to have dinner at Loló Cevicheria, where we met up with Jeni and Betty to split some tasty ceviche and tacos.
Also, I don’t know if it’s just a SF thing or a young-adult restaurant thing, but it seemed like half the places we went to had ditched the traditional receipt tray/book in favor of some other container, like the little metal cup on the table pictured above. Anybody else noticing a trend?
Anyway, after dinner, Kaiti and I went to a bar I had wanted to go since day one (but had been too sick to even try): Upcider! I love hard cider, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to drink it in NYC. This place was devoted to the stuff!
It was a great ending to a mostly great trip.
SF Day 1: The Agony & the Ecstasy
SF Day 2: Staying Alive
SF Day 3.1: A New Morning
SF Day 3.2: Walk, Eat Until You Die