On Friday I had planned to visit Chinatown in San Francisco with Lina (I mostly meet up with her since she is the only other person I know who has Fridays off – I sometimes feel unsociable when I have to turn people down because I work weekends), however she contracted tonsillitis so had to stay home. Rather than cancel my plans altogether, I decided to take the train to San Francisco by myself and visit the beautiful Golden Gate Park. Although it was a little lonely taking a day trip by myself (I do enjoy going out by myself and having time to think, but sometimes you just need the company of good friends and I would have loved Jenny and Beth to have accompanied me), I had a nice time and absorbed the beautiful sights.
When I arrived in San Francisco I knew I had to find the N Muni which would take me to the park. Sign posts aren’t very clear so I walked the wrong way at first but soon found the stop. Then I asked a guy on the platform how to pay. He was very helpful and said you pay at the front of the train; he asked me where I was going and directed me to the correct platform. The Muni is the Metro of San Francisco. It costs $2.25 per ride no matter where you are going. You feed your money into a machine and the driver gives you a ticket. You have to have the exact money as no change is given – I imagine this can be an inconvenience at times but I had plenty of change and managed to get rid of the pennies I had accumulated. However, I counted my pennies carefully and am positive that the machine count is inaccurate as I had to put in an extra few cents. I decided I much preferred the Muni to the bus I took back to the train station on my last trip into the city, which seemed to take forever. It was quick and not too crowded.
It’s always a challenge going to new places without the GPS working on my phone, although fortunately I can still view the map without internet access. But I navigated the park fairly easily and there were park maps at intervals. I headed for the Conservatory of Flowers first but when I got there I discovered that it was closed for maintenance that week only! How disappointing. So I headed over to the De Young Museum of Art. I first took the elevator to the observation deck – definitely worth a visit. You can see across San Francisco, even catching a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then I looked around the free parts of the museum before heading to the café for a lunch of tomato soup and a chocolate muffin with apple juice. The museum cost $26 and I just thought it was too expensive when you can enter the National Gallery in London for free!
After the museum, I went to the Japanese Tea Gardens which cost $8 to enter. The gardens are really beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the unusual trees, beautiful architecture and the gigantic Koi carp. There was a cute little Japanese gift store which I adored. A tiny woman said she loved my jumper – “It is so cute and soft and a gentle colour” she said. I was fascinated by the tea pots and cups, as well as the gorgeous chop sticks. I bought some special hand-make chop sticks as a present for someone special, and a small leaf-shaped chop-stick holder. They had some nice paper crane earrings but they cost nearly $30 which I thought was expensive for what they were.
I was then tempted to visit the Botanical Gardens ($7) but I didn’t see anything spectacular when looking through the fence so decided against it since I was not convinced it could top the Japanese Gardens, but it leaves me somewhere to visit next time. I was also a bit miffed that you had to pay for everything, but on reflection I realise it is normal, the gardens aren’t expensive, and they need to be maintained. There is really a lot to do and visit in the park and I definitely will go back and see all that it offers, including the conservatory which I missed out on. Instead, I went to Stow lake but I don’t think I really walked far enough to see its true beauty and will have to go back to find Strawberry Hill and its waterfall in the centre of Stow lake. Time was getting on and I decided to make my way back to the Muni – my stomach was feeling upset (likely from the apple juice at lunch) and I just could not walk further with the thought of having to walk back.
Fortunately, I felt better by the time I got on the Muni to Powell Street (where they turn the cable cars – close to Union Square and Macy’s). I enjoyed looking around the stores and bought myself a face mask from Lush (the tiniest Lush store I’ve ever been in). It smells like mint and has made my face feel so soft. Also, speaking of Lush, I have been loving the shampoo bar my gorgeous friend Jenny sent me. I then spent about an hour in the Disney store! Since I was there so long, I decided to get some Easter presents for the kids, but couldn’t resist giving them to them when I got home so they are very early Easter presents. I really need to stop spending money and save up for when I come home, but it’s harder than you would think, especially since I have a week off soon when I can go on holiday.
Ah well, I’m only here once and may as well make the most of it.