It's a good thing that I learned this very important piece of information on my final day in San Fran. Fortunately, for the sake of potentially passing as a native, I didn't utter the phrase out loud, but merely repeated it time after time in my dome. It was kind of like that part in "Elf" when Will Ferrell [i.e. Buddy the Elf] states: "Francisco, now THAT'S fun to say. Francisco, Francisco", except I imitated it internally. Huh, ironic - the name he falls in love with is one in the same with a city that I now have an affinity for.. I should also mention that I have a strange affinity for elf culture. I could reference "Elf" all day, but I'll stop for now.
Also, to mark my status as an outsider, I made sure to listen to Scott McKenzie's tribute to the city by the bay, "San Francisco". I also wore flowers in my hair, and made sure to pack enough fresh fleurs for my stay.. ok, no I didn't.. but I did listen to the ditty en route to the west coast. I swear I had my ipod on shuffle.. I just might have hit repeat a few times.. or for 2 hours straight. Don't worry, I did the same thing on my flight to Omaha - thank you, Counting Crows. I will be sure to wear a bright red target on my back for all future trips.
Not only is San Fran one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited, but it is also one of the most expensive. While the majority of the city is walkable [if you're not in a rush, and if you're in decent enough shape to climb small mountains], my advice would be to take the BART & the MUNI instead of a cab whenever possible. I might have traveled 2.5 miles, and my cab fare came to $14.. I actually did experience pangs of pain upon transferring my cash from my pocket to the cabbie - and if you know me at all, then you know how much I HEART cabbies. I'm certainly not one to champion the public transportation system in Boston, but I do have to admit that it's a bit more straight-forward, intuitive, and reliable than what I'd experienced in San Fran. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the transit authority is the fact that the station agents are not actually helpful. Granted I'd only been in the city for a total of 4 days, every time I visited a station, getting any assistance from an employee of the underground became more of a challenge. Your best bet is to either plan ahead and gather correct change, or carry smaller bills so that you're not fooled by the way the ticket kiosks require payment.
Additionally, be familiar with areas that are considered tourist traps. Pier 39 is an area renowned for attracting outsiders. It's right on the Wharf and offers a plethora of bay cruises, the infamous seals & sea lions lazing on the docks, and a Disney World-like atmosphere with its variety of street performers, musicians, and jugglers. I have to admit that I did take the Bay Cruise Adventure out of Pier 39 to catch an up-close glimpse of the Golden Gate as well as a 360 degree view of Alcatraz.
Another popular tourist trap is the cable car. And again, it was inevitable that I'd find my way onto one before fleeing the city. It's $5 per ride, and in my opinion, is definitely worth riding at least once!
What can I say, like Molly with souvenirs, I'm a total sucker for major tourist attractions.. they're a part of history. At least I didn't purchase the cable car ornaments or magnets that were in my face at every turn.. MOLLY.
More to come on amazing areas and local hot spots to check out!