So, I went to San Fransisco last week. I attended the LDCX conference at Stanford. Travelling solo from Europe to the Bay Area wasn’t something I had planned doing at the start of this year. But here we are, and looking back, I’m grateful for the opportunity. Without going into a detailed day-to-day report, here are several tips if you consider following my footsteps.
The easiest way to book flights is via Expedia. I spend a few hours comparing and I finally settled with a flight into San Fransisco International with Air Canada via Montreal. My return flight was operated by Lufthansa via Munich to Brussels. Considering I booked late – barely a month in advance – I think I still got a fair value deal.
I stayed at the Dylan Hotel in Millbrae. Again, it was a deal via Booking. Now, Millbrae isn’t San Fransisco. It’s some 16 miles from city center. The plus is that the hotel is conveniently located near a BART station which provides a lightrail connection directly into town. Moreover, it’s also a Caltrain station with a southbound connection towards Silicon Valley and San José. San Fransisco isn’t cheap, so staying outside of the city and using public transport definitely helps.
Use BART to get into San Fransisco, and then get a MUNI passport (Clipper card) for 43$ which gets you around town for the next 7 days. Seriously. Get a card! Why? Because San Fransisco is known (or infamous) for it’s hills. Unless you like hiking to the top of Nob Hill or Fillmore Street, this card will save you more then a fair share of blisters. Also, San Fransisco peninsula is larger then a map might give you. Don’t underestimate the distances.
Things I did during the few days before and after the conference:
- Visit SF MoMa.
- Visit Westfield San Fransisco Center.
- Go see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island from the Presidio Beach.
- Locate Tech startup offices and get a selfie (Twitter, Uber, Github, Fitbit, Salesforce,…)
- Visit the Embarcadero.
- Visit Chinatown.
- Visit the Painted Ladies near Alamo Square.
- Shopping spree & grab a coke/hotdog at Union Square
- Visit the Fillmore district.
I barely scratched the surface of things to do and see in San Fransisco. There’s still the Mission, the Golden Gate Park, Sausalito and so much more.
You won’t starve in SF either. On my first day, I ended up in Gotts near the Embarcadero for a good old American Cheeseburger. Another great tip would be Tadich Grill. Cheaper menu’s can be found in the Food Emporium below Westfield Center. And then there’s the Food Market in the Embarcadero Ferry building itself for something on the go. The city itself is dotted with bars, cafés, and small coffee houses. You can easily pick out the new, hip, hot spots by the long lines of patrons waiting to get in.
SF is an awesome travel destination. If you’re considering a visit to the U.S., I’d say this is a great starting place to get a first, gentle taste of America.