Saturday, November 5, 2011

San Francisco trip, recommendations, and the passes that are totally worth it

I went to San Francisco this September, and I absolutely loved it.  I found it to be an interesting combination of Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego) and Portland, Oregon.  In terms of weather it is typically kind of Northwest (a lot of fog, chilly, weather variations, wet, the lot).  The public transport is similar to that of the Northwest, wherein it exists and it works well, but it still plays second fiddle to those with cars; the exception, I'd say, is that the city seems to make the effort to use their older cars and everything is electrical.  Overall, I absolutely loved the public transportation.

The similarities to Southern CA come from the diversity (which trust me, is rather lacking in Oregon), wealth and variation of the area, both in demographics and in shopping/entertainment.  That and a lot of the little stores and set ups just reminded me of downtown L.A.

In short, I love this place to death and I want to live there now.  SO FUCKING MUCH.

I stayed at a hostel called the Adelaide that also runs another nearby hostel (like a block away) called the Dakota.  For the first week or so it was the Adelaide, which I generally liked. It was generally pretty good, other than some class-less cunts I had the misfortune of having to room with a few days into our stay.  But assholes aside, it was great.

As to activities, I should say that these CityPasses are so absolutely worth, I can't emphasize that enough.  They worked as bus passes (for city buses and rail cars) which was a great value, but overall saved us a ton of money since SF is not a cheap place to be, and many of it's sights (that we got entrance for with the passes) are quite expensive.  The city pass itself is $69 per person, but it is all worth it.  For instance, each admission was priced at about $25-30, so if you go to each one you definitely get a good deal.  I'm glad I had these because honestly, had I actually paid for much of what I saw I would have been a bit upset as everything was very expensive and not necessarily as large as what I was used to.

For instance, The California Academy of the Sciences was absolutely awesome, but I admittedly found parts of it to be a bit of a "quick pass through" as compared to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, which is my favorite place on earth.  I will say that this museum was "better" in the regard that it had far more life there, and I really like that.  
But don't get me wrong, it was awesome.
Pictures for proof:
 They recreated a barrier reef (from the Philippines, I believe?).  It was gorgeous.

 This walk around structure was an interior rainforest environment that went over the reef (so you could look down and see the fish, while surrounded by plants and butterflies).  Believe me when I say this was magical, so beautiful.  Also believe me when I say it was authentically rainforest-like, because it was hot and muggy as hell in there. There is a bit of a wait since they only let in a certain number of people at any given time but again, gorgeous. 

 For some reason this picture makes me lol

 Walking under all the fish.  Being in there (and seeing how it was laid out) made me think that a wedding there would be nothing short of spectacular.

 In the rainforest structure, looking down at the fish/people, feeling an overwhelming sense of awe, power and humidity.

 The top of the museum was converted into a biodome, making it eco friendly and efficient.  This place wasn't totally excited but very pleasant, you could go up and feel a nice breeze and see the (admittedly plain) little plants they had up there.  I kind of wish they could let people interact with the plants a bit more (though I can understand why they wouldn't) but more than anything I wish there was a bit more botanical variety.  Still lovely though and it totally reminds me of teletubby land.

 The cool T-rex at the entrance.

One of the best things ever, I have never heard of these cuttlefish and my mind=blown.  So beautiful.

Honestly I can't put up all the pictures that were taken but it was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Also visited the art museums, they were lovely too.  I won't put up many pictures (copyright issues? also lack of space) but they were, on the whole, very worth it too.
Suffice it to say though, this was the best thing I saw, a little picture card from the visitor comment area.  I loved it.

The Aquarium of the Bay (at Pier 39) was also awesome.  A bit small but so lovely!  In terms of interaction with animals they were also far better than the museum.
 The aquarium also had a walk through tube.  This shot reminded me of The Little Mermaid.
 Some very kick-ass jellyfish.  Being in a dark room, watching them float around so gracefully is really relaxing. 
 The view outside the aquarium, at Pier 39 and the rest of SF.

 The seals that have taken up residence at the Pier/harbor.  They are living the life.

A battleship they had.  There was also a submarine (which I went into):

A WWII submarine, which was cooler than I had initially given it credit for.  It made me very slightly seasick but it was cool to see the very cramped living spaces in there.  The only other person in there was  a Russian guy, lol.

Alcatraz island.  There were boats to this but it wasn't part of the package so I didn't go.  But there was a pass for a ferry boat around the bay and we got pretty close to the island, so much so that I regretted not going!  It looked pretty crowded but very cool.

This may be getting too big so I'll make another entry.
As an aside, this is my TripAdvisor profile, if you want to see some of the reviews I left:

NOTE: All of the pictures and video in here and in the subsequent post were taken by me.   All recommendations and reviews are also fully mine, I wasn't paid for anything.

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