10 things I want to do in San Francisco

One of my favourite things about an adventure is the planning part. I love falling into hours of research, photos, blog posts, videos, and reviews; it’s kind of my thing. (Maybe I should become a travel agent…)

I have four full days in San Francisco, and I’m taking a day trip to Yosemite on one of those days, which gives me just three days to cram as much San Francisco in as possible.

 

 

“Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.” #goldengatebridge #sanfrancisco #sunset

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See the Golden Gate Bridge & watch the sun set

Let’s get the obvious one out the way here; when you think of San Francisco, you think of the Golden Gate Bridge in it’s imposing red glory. I’ve seen some absolutely stunning shots of the bridge around sunset and I’m desperate to come home with my own photo like the one above. I MUST DO IT!

 

See the sea lions at Pier 39

There’s a joke in my family that my Nan’s Labrador, Bert, looks a bit like a Sea Lion; it’s the shape of his snout and his whiskers; it’s very silly. I was scrolling through Pinterest one day when I saw that SF’s Pier 39 is home to over 1,000 sea lions. There’s not a chance I can go to San Francisco and not visit Bert’s Californian cousins. I’ve also told him that I’m going to bring him back a stuffed seal (as in a toy, not a taxidermy seal) to play with and he will never talk to me again if I’m not true to my word. (San Franciscans; tell me I can buy stuffed seals…please?)

 

 

Feel it… 🌲 #sanfrancisco #westillwalking #feelings #nonstop #llocsunics #muirwoods #sequoias #seguim #willyfog #amics

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Stand amongst the red woods

A few years ago, a friend gave me a tour of his university campus and amongst their mini-forest was a handful of redwoods. I remember him telling me that some of the largest can be seen in SF, and I’ve wanted to see them for myself ever since. 

I just love the idea of spending a few hours surrounded by trees that are hundreds of years old and that absolutely dwarf me.

 

 

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Japanese tea garden

This is going to sound really sad, but one of my favourite parts about going to Alton Towers is wandering through the valley down to the Japanese part of the garden. I know, I know, I’m supposed to tell you my favourite part is riding rollercoasters, but nope, I like pagodas.

I actually found out about San Francisco’s Japanese tea garden while reading Lola and the Boy Next Door (thanks again Stephanie Perkins, my literary tour guide!), rather than TripAdvisor which is where normal people decide where to go, and I’ve wanted to go since reading about it.

 

 

what ever happened to predictability?

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The Painted Ladies

Nope, I’ve never watched Full House but I really want to see these houses. I’m not hyping them up in my head because they’re just houses at the end of the day, but they’re so beautiful that I just want to see them in person.

 

 

Cable Car Time 🙌🏼 #sanfranciscocablecar 🇺🇸

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Ride a cable car

I tend to avoid public transport when I’m away, I prefer to explore (and get lost) on foot, but I’ve seen how steep some of the hills are in SF and you just can’t visit SF and not ride a cable car.

 

Haight-Ashbury

This is where the hippie movement started in the 60s, and with such beautiful buildings, street art and record shops, it has everything I want in a place to go. The hardest part about this trip might well be stopping myself buying records because they’re just not going to survive two flights.

 

Eat pancakes for breakfast

This might seem like the daftest thing on the list, but I really want to eat proper American style pancakes for breakfast. It’s not that you can’t get them in England, it’s just that I want to eat proper American pancakes for breakfast, and there are few things more enjoyable than going out for breakfast, right?

 

 

#hardrockcafe #hardrockcafesanfrancisco #sanfrancisco

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Collect another t-shirt

Mega tourist alert moment. I love the Hard Rock Cafe and collect t-shirts, so I definitely need to add a San Francisco one to my collection. Plus, I’m fairly certain my Mother will never let me back in her house if I don’t take her a badge back.

 

Visit Yosemite

Ok, so this isn’t actually in San Francisco but if you think I’m flying all the way to California and not visiting Yosemite, you’re crazy.

I’m booked on a day trip out to Yosemite and it’s gonna be a long day, but so worth it because I just know that I would be really disappointed if I didn’t go.

 

Is there anything I should add to the list?

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I’ve not had time to read much during the past few months, but with 20 hours of flying time soon coming up I will definitely be reaching for my Kindle to pass the time.

Though I’ve got a pretty packed 12 days planned, I’m hopeful that I’ll have some time to sit down and enjoy the view with a book in my hand, or maybe when I’m all cosy in the tent.

The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie Stiefvater

Considering how much I enjoyed The Raven Boys, I can’t believe it’s taken me a year and a half to get around to reading The Dream Thieves. To be honest, I did start it pretty much straight after I finished The Raven Boys but hit a reading slump and didn’t want to force myself to read it and end up not loving it as much as I know I would.

 

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) – Sarah J. Maas

I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year and loved the world building, but was a little disappointed in the lack of action. However, I did love the last third and I need to know what happens next, especially with Rhysand. A Court of Mist and Fury is a bit of a beast and is about twice the size of ACOTAR, so I’m hoping it’s an action packed 600-odd pages, and not more room for little action.

 

The Girl At Midnight - Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight – Melissa Grey

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know how obsessed I am with Magonia and I almost bought the Kindle version of it so I could read it with glee at 30,000 feet. I was about to buy it when I spotted the ‘people also buy’ section and saw The Girl at Midnight.

I was completely sold at “Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins.” Underground New York, feathery hair, and magic? What more do I need from a book?

 

What have you been reading this summer?

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My Mum barely trusts me with a bread knife, so the look on her face when our tour guide handed me a huge sword was priceless.

When I went to Dublin a couple of years ago, I went on a Game of Thrones tour and loved it. My Mum was very envious and when we heard that the same company were running two different tours from Belfast we booked flights straight away.

The first tour we did was called the Iron Islands & Stormlands Adventure tour, which they started running earlier this year, which also included a trip to the Giant’s Causeway. I knew that Northern Ireland was stunning and I knew how good the tour would be from my previous experience, but my expectations of this tour were absolutely smashed. It’s genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever done; right up there with kayaking in Stockholm.

Stop one on the tour is Cushenden Caves, where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby. The cave itself is a pretty small, dark, dingy cave (y’know, as caves tend to be) but when you’re stood outside it surrounded by the beautiful scenary and it’s 20-odd degrees, you find it hard to imagine it’s the same dark and horrible looking place you saw on TV.

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge northern ireland

The second stop on the tour does a pretty good job of illustrating how much CGI is used in Thrones. Of course CGI is used, of course, but the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and it’s surroundings are pretty unrecognisable from a certain scene in series six (which I will not spoil). (If you’ve watched series 6; it’s the scene with a bridge….)

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge sea

The 30m high bridge leads to a small island, offering stunning views of the coastline. I was a little blown away by how clear and blue the sea was here. When you think about the sea in the UK you probably think about dark bluey-greeny sea (or maybe brown if you’re thinking about Blackpool…); you probably don’t picture sea so beautiful it looks like it belongs on the front of a Thomas Cook brochure.

After lunch, it was time to head to the “iron islands”, which was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most because I love Theon’s storyline, and I got so excited watching it all kick off in the last season. Plus, doesn’t the scenary just look stunning?

Different parts of Ballintoy Harbour, which is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, have been used throughout the series, and it’s easy to see why. It’s beautiful, but it also looks quite desolate and harsh, which is exactly what the iron islands are supposed to look like.

Ballintoy Harbour

Ballintoy Harbour

Of course, it doesn’t look immensely harsh and desolate when the sky is perfectly blue and you’re prancing around dressed up like Yara, waving a sword about, much to the confusion of strangers trying to enjoy a day at the seaside. Our guide told us that when they first started running this tour, and people were running about in Game of Thrones costumes, people thought they were filming for the series and were asking people for autographs.

There was a brilliant moment, where we walked across a sandy beach, all geared up like Iron Islanders, and a sunbathing family looked at us in a mixture of absolute horror and confusion about what was going on.

Once I’d sufficiently sweat in costume and almost impaled myself and smashed my camera, we were back in the bus and headed to the Giant’s Causeway. This is one of those places that I’ve wanted to see since I first became aware of it and I was so happy when I read that it was part of the tour.

Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, northern ireland

Unfortunately, I found it quite underwhelming. We couldn’t have wished for better weather, and maybe that’s what spoiled it because the place was absolutely packed, and I wonder if that’s what ruined it for me. There were people perched everywhere, a sea of selfie sticks and the now unfortunately far too commonly seen tourists taking photos on their iPad (it’s an irrational annoyance of mine, that).

It doesn’t actually look that busy on the photo above, but it was and I think that ruined it for me. I felt the same way about Stonehenge; something that’s so legendary and spectacular is ruined and hard to appreciate when it feels like a tourist trap. The Giant’s Causeway is fascinating and it’s set in a beautiful place but I got back on the bus feeling disappointed in it and was glad we didn’t stay there long.

After a quick stop off at the side of the road by Dunluce Castle, which the Greyjoy’s seat of power in Pyke is based on, we headed off to take a photo of the iconic dark hedges, which is the road Arya and Gendry escape down.

The dark hedges, northern ireland

The dark hedges, northern ireland

Yet again, the location doesn’t look anywhere near as moody as it does in the show thanks to the glorious weather, but it’s hard to imagine this place not looking beautiful in any kind of weather. Some of the trees fell in winter storms earlier in the year and they were taken and turned into 10 beautiful doors which were placed in pubs around Northern Ireland which had some kind of connection to the series.

One of the doors was in the pub we stopped off at for lunch, The Cuan, and it’s a stunning piece of work.

Game of Thrones door at The Cuan

My photo does not do it justice at all, so you can find a better one here if you scroll down to door 6.

If you love Game of Thrones and are planning to visit Northern Ireland, I honestly cannot recommend Game of Thrones Tours enough. Their guides are amazing; full of knowledge about the show and the two we had were both extras on the show, so they’d got some great stories about their experiences on set and how the series is filmed. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, and it felt so immersive when were all kitted out as iron islanders, flailing swords about.

I’m pretty sure my Mum and I are now going to choose holiday locations based on whether or not we can go on a Game of Thrones filming tour; we are doing Iceland together next and they did film in Iceland also, so I think we’re doing pretty good so far.

Have you ever been to any filming locations?

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