Why We Love San Francisco

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Some people misunderstand our constant wandering. They think we are in search of a home, a perfect corner of the world where we’ll eventually settle down. The truth is that we have no such quest – for now we are perfectly happy with our nomadic lives and have no desire to choose just one place to base ourselves. Still, if pushed, we’d agree that of everywhere we’ve been the one place it wouldn’t be a hardship to settle in would be San Francisco. It’s almost perfect for us (if only it was in the tropics and not so expensive) and here’s why.

Vegetarian Heaven

Wow, the food. Not only could we eat at a different vegetarian (or even vegan) restaurant every night and not run out of choice for months, but the quality is superb using fresh local produce. From gourmet ice cream, to giant burritos and classy vegetarian meals at Greens (our favourite restaurant, anywhere) we love it all. We plan to spend a few months in the city at some point and I can’t wait to have our own kitchen to take advantage of the wonderful Farmer’s Markets and Mexican delis.

Gourmet vegetarian at Greens restaurant, San Francisco

Gourmet vegetarian at Greens restaurant

Multi-Cultural

We stayed with a friend in the Marina neighbourhood, a largely white, well to do area, and took the bus downtown. As we passed through North Beach our neighbours would chat away in Italian, until reaching Chinatown Mandarin was thrown into the mix. Hopping onto another bus out to the Mission and you’d hear more Spanish than English.

San Francisco is wonderfully multi-cultural, adding to the vibrancy of the city and of course it’s food scene: Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Nepalese, Japanese, El Salvadorian, Burmese, Afghani. It’s all here.

Beauty

Colourful Victorian houses are clustered precariously on the steep hills overlooking the bay. A breezy walk along the water rewards with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and hills beyond. It’s a beautiful city that hasn’t been ruined by the urban sprawl and ugly highrises of so many cities.

San Francisco

Typically gorgeous street in The Marina

Neighbourhoods

Best of all we love the neighbourhoods. Latino, hipster, trendy, gritty Mission is our favourite but every area has something to offer. You’ll find cool cafes, quirky shops, vintage clothes stores and a favourite brunch place with a line out the door on weekends.

Colourful Houses, The Mission, San Francisco

Colourful Houses in The Mission

Walkable

I love cities but get overwhelmed in places like New York and London where I’m stuck on a sweaty underground train for an hour to get half way across town. San Francisco is manageable – each neighbourhood is very pedestrian friendly and we found the buses an easy way to get between neighbourhoods. 

Alternative, Artsy Vibe

There’s world-class art in San Francisco whether it’s in the big art museums MOMA or De Young or in the graffiti filled streets of the Mission. The city is full of interesting, creative people living unconventional lives.

Grafitti in Balmy Alley, Mission, San Francisco

Street Art in Balmy Alley, The Mission

Tech Capital

For those of us who haven’t lived in the city it’s a thrill meeting people who work for Google or Twitter. For everyone else it’s normal. For Simon especially being in the tech capital is an opportunity to talk geek with some of the best in the world. Everyone here has a start up and no one thinks we are weird for having a blog.

Close to Nature

Just over the bridge we walked amongst the mammoth redwoods of Muir Woods and even closer strolling through Golden Gate Park can take all day. Beaches, forest and mountains are all within easy reach.

San Francisco Marina

San Francisco Marina

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29 Comments (3 pingbacks)

  1. We lived in Russian Hill and Pacific Heights neighbourhoods about twelve years ago. Absolutely love SF. Great vibe, culture and eclectic food. Used to love being able to ski in Tahoe during the winter. The weather is best in autumn and worst in Jan/Feb. Summer is cool with fog although always pleasant. We used to cycle across GG bridge to Marin for better weather at weekends. Lots of lovely towns along 101: Mill Valley, Tiburon, Larkspur, San Rafael and, of course, beautiful Sausalito. Plenty of live music available, especially blues and jazz. We saw John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana at SF Blues Festival at Fort Mason (Marina district) – surprisingly intimate event!! Frequented a fabulous dive bar called The Saloon in North Beach most Friday evenings which showcased some of the best blues I’ve ever heard. Shakespeare at open-air theatre in GG Park, proper old school movie theatres in every neighbourhood, interesting boutiques in Sacramento, Union, Fillmore and Valencia shopping areas, proper coffee shops (not Starbucks commercial types), everyone is fit and healthy, fantastic architecture and scenery. Best part was I could walk to all my clients’ offices (except the ones in Sacramento and Pasadena, of course). Ah, happy memories! Will definitely return one day….

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  2. Your have to venture across the bay to the East Bay -to Oakland/Berkeley. I live in Berkeley. It’s more relaxed than San Francisco and an easy half-hour away across the Bay Bridge by car or by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train. Riding a bike here isn’t as harrowing a journey as in San Francisco. As for alternative culture, there’s more of it in the East Bay particularly in Berkeley and Oakland. The East Bay regional parks are larger and wilder than those in San Francisco with excelent views of the Bay and San Francisco. While San Francisco Chinatown is becoming too expensive for Chinese immigrants and more of a tourist trap, Oakland Chinatown is still very much Chinese and Asian packed with restaurants and markets that mostly only locals frequent. There is even a Chinatown East on the other side of Lake Merritt. The Fruitvale area along International Blvd in Oakland is a large Hispanic neighorbood. And, finally, everything in the East Bay is cheaper than in San Francisco.

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    • Finally, I am a vegetarian – vegan. In Berkeley, there are Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Chinese vegetarian restaurants. In Oakland there is a vegan soul food restaurant, Souley Vegan, that is very popular. There’s a place in Berkeley called Karma Kitchen where you pay whatever you want (they call it paying forward – paying for someone esle’s meal). The food is excellent Indian food and along with you a meal you can have Mango Lassi and a desert too. Ethiopian, Eritrian (a big community in North Oakland) restaurants too. The variety of vegetarian food in the East Bay is as large and diverse as it is in San Francisco.

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      • I can’t believe we haven’t made it out to Berkeley and Oakland yet. They sound fantastic. Our ultimate goal is to spend a few months in San Francisco and it sounds like the East Bay would be a more affordable area to consider staying in. Thanks for all your advice.

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  3. The food is AMAZING in the Bay… fresh, simple, & delicious! It is easily a foodie destination with all the organic ingredients, gourmet food trucks, and Michelin rated restaurants. There is always plenty to do, with many street festivals and events throughout the year. My favorite part(s) about SF (besides the food) is the close proximity to beautiful WINE COUNTRY: the world renowned NAPA VALLEY, the scenic drive along Hwy 1 down the coast in BIG SUR, and gorgeous LAKE TAHOE in the winter with superb skiing/snowboarding conditions. It is truly a great place to live that will excite all of your senses!

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  4. I adore San Francisco – even the weather doesn’t bother me. I can totally feel its vibe, the mix of neighborhoods, the nature next to the skyscrapers, the people, everything. I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to go back again. I particularly enjoyed walking on the Golden Gate bridge, the tour of Alcatraz, the visit to the Haas – Lilienthal house, the view from top of Coit tower and of course the cable cars! When I grow up, I want to move there 🙂

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