San Francisco: Japantown, Hotel Kabuki, Sushi.


Last month I went on a three week vacation to visit my boyfriend in the USA. Having only previously flown to Germany last year (see blog posts Part 1 and Part 2 here, if interested), this was a heck of a giant leap. Travelling alone has become the norm to me, and I'm actually thinking of doing a sort of travel guide to newbie solo travellers. We'll see. Anyhow, back on topic. I landed in San Jose and we then drove up to San Francisco. My journey over was smooth despite the two, yes, two, layovers I had to endear for the sake of saving £29. Worth it? Questionable. My thrifty side needs to take a backseat sometimes.

Our first trip in San Francisco lasted two nights, but we later went back for a day trip to hit the places that we missed out on the first time around. But I'm going to list everything as if it were one magical trip, otherwise both you and I are going to get confused. (Just me? Shush.)

Where We Stayed:
Hotel Kabuki. Our trip began with a two night stay in Japantown. My partner kindly arranged our accommodation and having stayed there previously, went with what he already knew. The room was beautiful but the view took the cake, especially at night. The hotel itself was within short walking distance from the shops/restaurants that Japantown has to offer and a quick 8-10 minute Uber ride to Highway 101 and the busy streets of San Francisco. It was the perfect fit for us. Local but quiet.

Hotel Kabuki didn't have any flaws in particular, but there was a slight downside of the bed being a little firm. Not a major deal breaker, but if that isn't your particular thing and you're planning on a longer stay, it may not be the most comfortable for you. A highlight of the stay for me was the first night together. We were both exhausted and ordered our traditional pizza (mushroom and pineapple, FYI) on the first night together, and ate on crisp white sheets - which my mother would object hugely to. Being the oh so sweet man that he is, my partner brought a bottle of champagne for us to toast to the trip. And not thinking to call down and request two glasses, we instead drank directly from the bottle under the warmth of the duvet. You don't get fancier than that, folks. Whether it was the situation or non-existent jetlag, I don't know, but I remember being incredibly amused and more importantly, happy. I will cherish that memory.

Things We Did:
Japantown: During the first day, we mostly wandered around the array of stores that the town had to offer and spent an endless amount of minutes flailing over the array of cute cat things. The quaint little independent shops were really fun to look around and having even better company for it made it heavenly (yes, I am going to be sickly in love throughout this entire thing. You're welcome.).

Panoramic Night Tour: In the evening, we booked a two-hour tour with Big Bus Tours to see the beautiful lights of San Francisco at night. The sightseeing spots it offers are as follows; Golden Gate Bridge, Grace Cathedral, Bay Bridge, and skyline views from Treasure Island. It seemed romantic, and it had the possibility to be. The scenery was spectacular. Sadly, we froze to death. Not literal death, obviously. But good God, it was cold. Having forgotten his jacket at home, my better half got the bunt of it. If you're planning on doing one of these, here's my advice: Layer up. Bring your own blanket. Possibly a thermos. The tour itself sells blankets for a whooping $10 each, and it wasn't especially warm. Despite the chilly weather, it was fun. The fog rolled in (shocker, I know.. that was sarcasm), and the rain started to fall as we went over the bay bridge and it was just.. electric. I didn't take many photos due to the shivering and numb fingers, but some things you just have to experience, you know?

The Bay Bridge: After having the quick pitstop here the previous night (see photo above), we decided to take a quick detour during the drive home to take some photos in the daylight. Near treasure Island and within sight of Alcatraz, it's a beautiful spot for photo taking. Especially as it was deadly quiet. Bonus!

Golden Gate Park: In all honesty, we only went here to hit the three places that are location around the area (listed below), but it was a noteworthy spot itself. The area is beautiful and having a stroll around was quite romantic. We got lunch from a food truck, sat on a bench near the fountain, and people watched. Children were laughing and splashing in the water (which, please, don't let your child do. You don't know if there's glass in there and the water itself is absolutely freezing. Not wise. Nuh-uh.), people were going about their day, the sound of water was loud and you could feel the chill in the air that it caused. It was an accidental date, and damn great.

Japanese Tea Gardens: Beautiful. There are no other words to describe this little place of tranquillity. It's strange, but there were so many people crammed around the small cobble-stone paths, yet it still felt peaceful. We didn't go to the cafe due to the mass amounts of people there, but I couldn't find it in me to be disappointed. It's worth going to even if you only have a spare 10 minutes - cost and all. A truly romantic spot.

California Academy of Sciences: Fun but expensive. This is the kind of place that anyone of any age will enjoy. It's fascinating, fun and beautiful in parts. You get everything. I feel like I'm three seconds away from yelling "Fun for all the family!" but it is. With so many different exhibits and various subjects in science that are there for you to both learn and appreciate from, it's worth a visit.

De Young Museum: I failed at taking photos here, as it just didn't seem right. There was a sense of serenity that I just couldn't bring myself to disrupt by bringing out my camera - sometimes the phone is best left in the bag. Walking around the many, many exhibitions that it has to offer, I grew to appreciate art far more than I have done in the past. I'm not hugely knowledgeable when it comes to art, but I do enjoy walking around a space that is homed to so many incredible pieces that hold such sentiment to their artist, and in turn, history. There isn't a particular way to accurately describe it. It's something you have to experience for yourself.

Where We Ate:
Mifune: Sushi was on my bucket list, for no particular reason. Turns out that eating at Japanese restaurants as a vegetarian is difficult. Tip: Always check what they put in the broth. We found our way in the end and ordered. It was good - peculiar for my mouth - but good. We got an appetizer of tempura and a roll of both Kappa Maki and Shinko Maki. The service was good, and their coffee was strong. We went around 1pm and it was absolutely dead except us and another guy. So that's worth keeping in mind.

Chocolate Chair: As we cruised around a shopping centre in Japantown, we noticed a food stand that sold coloured balls that appeared to smoke. Of course, curiosity got the better of us and we bought some. The odd snack is called Dragon's Breathe. Fruit Loop flavoured cereal puffs dosed in liquid nitrogen that causes smoke to come out of your nostrils and mouth. Yum? This is nothing other than a novelty, but a fun one. For $5 (small) or $7 (large), it's worth the laugh. Not to mention the cool selfies.

Bruno's Pizzeria: Decent pizza. Not the best, but not bad by any means. The sauce was just a little lack luster. In spite of that, I was happy with it because my cat is also called Bruno. I'm an easily pleased woman.

Original Buffalo Wings: Yeah, I know. "You're veggie. Weird choice." But I'll rest my case by saying that they did sweet potato fries and my boyfriend is meat friendly. We actually had the food from here delivered (again), and it travelled surprisingly well. I had a garden burger, yes, my inner 2009 Twilight fangirl was thriving #noshame, and it was really good. Homemade veggie patty and heaps of salad. If you want a quick delivery place that isn't pizza, and want it to be fairly reasonably priced and good? This is your spot.

All in all, our two night/three day visit to San Francisco was everything we could of wanted it to be. I wouldn't of changed anything. It was a beautiful city and I look forward to hopefully visiting again in future (ideally with the same company).

- Anne x

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