San Francisco took a day to grow on me. It is a giant Wellington-like city, complete with unpredictable cool weather and trolley buses. It is huge, with many different faces and it took me a while to find the ones that I liked. In the end, of course, it took a local to show me.
In terms of getting around the sprawling city, San Fran has a vast array of transport options. It pays to go straight to the visitors centre and grab one of their maps - don’t be like me and get sucked into a ‘passport’ as I later found you can do it far cheaper with a refillable Muni card (unless you want to spend a lot of time on the cable car but one way was enough for me!).
Being a vintage loving girl, the vintage transport was the most fun - yes the cable car is enjoyable, but the vintage F line trolley bus was my favourite, they are so beautiful and they go everywhere.
However the good news is that there are a few great vintage stores, right on Haight Street.
The other district I explored, thanks to people in the know, was The Mission- this is how I had pictured San Fran, quirky boutiques, lovely parks, few tourists and an artsy feel.
I visited two shops here. First up was Retrofit Vintage at 910 Valencia Street run by the fabulous Stephen LeMay... he is funny, loves his vintage and takes good care of it. As an actor he also caters for show people with a huge range of stage makeup and flamboyant dresses. It was a blast hanging out in his shop (pictured left) and his prices are fantastic by the way.
Then to Schauplatz at 791 Valentin St (pictured right). offering a good eclectic range, more on the retro side of things, and again very reasonably priced!
Then there is Coit Tower (below right), built in 1933 with money from Lillie Coit, an interesting woman who had a love of firefighters after being rescued by them as a child. The San Fran council commissioned murals around the inside of the tower, featuring great depictions of 1930s life.
San Francisco has a rich, interesting history and pieces of it are found all around the city, so spend some time here, get away from the tourist areas and let San Fran woo you... I'm sure that you, like myself, will eventually be hooked.