Leaving your heart in San Francisco – part 3 – arrival orientation

When you land at San Francisco International airport (assuming you land there and not at Oakland [which is a viable alternative]) – you have a handful of transportation options for getting downtown to your hotel:

Taxi – There are a row of legit cabs waiting to take you downtown to your hotel. Cost is around $30. For $20 more or so you can get a limo… but why? Travel time: 20 – 30 minutes – generally closer to the lower number. Cabs travel at the speed limit on the Freeway so do not be alarmed when you are zooming along at 70mph in a Prius!

Shuttle van – Vans can make their way downtown to your hotel – they are around $17-19 per person – and take a bit longer doing the hotel milk run. Do the math. Want to save a few bucks, this is one way to go.

Rapid Transit – If you are traveling light and want a bit more adventure and keep a few more dollars in your pocket, take the BART. It is fast, clean and safe and will get you to a location near your hotel downtown within 30 minutes.

Photo left – have your Gold card handy if you are staying anywhere near Union Square shopping!

If you are arriving mid-day (always the best way to arrive), it gives you time to check in and start exploring your surroundings. We stayed on the very top of Nob Hill – which is a combination of nice hotels, luxury small homes, and by appearances, some international embassies – oh yea, and some great restaurants.

There are some primary centers of action in San Francisco; Union Square, Powell Station, Ferry Building, Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. Chances are you are going to be staying near one of these. One of those travel books I suggested talks about these neighborhoods.

We stayed in tony Nob Hill so it was “all downhill” from where we were staying. Literally. First thing we did was make our way to the Visitors Information Center (900 Market Street) to validate our City Pass – they are open til 5 PM sharp on weekdays so make sure you arrive a few minutes earlier like we did! And we got in. Last customers of the day!

First meal in San Francisco that afternoon: Sears Fine Food – nothing to do with the Sears chain of stores – that is their name – and they have been serving up gravity reliable grub since 1938. Old school and Blue Plate specials. And it’s the perfect comfortable place to have that first meal when you are feeling somewhat discombobulated from air travel. We became acquainted with The Nob Hill Cafe which had a very comfortable eating space and great menu. The pasta is great and we visited twice.

If you have come to San Francisco for some of the great coffee culture (Photo above left) you will not be let down. Most people who love coffee know that San Francisco is coming into its own – names that come to mind; Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building (a great attraction all by itself), Sight GlassFour Barrel and Ritual, etc etc. More on these in the next installment.