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Quirky San Francisco

Quirky San Francisco

The bridge, the glittering bay, the cable cars… It's hard not to fall in love with San Francisco. Victorian buildings and colourful murals alternate seamlessly here, giving the city a quirky vibe all of its own. There’s only one downside to San Francisco: it’s really hard to leave it behind!

Discover the hidden treasures
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 3 Stroke Bg
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 2 Profile

Iris van den Broek (1982) is a photographer and travel writer who has worked with iFly KLM Magazine since 2011. Among her many talents is an ability to tell stories in both words and pictures: and through her lens and her pen, the world is always striking.

Hotel Diva

Star treatment included

The stylish boutique hotel Diva is my base. Its theme is worked out to the smallest detail: for instance, you let housekeeping know whether you’re in your room with a The Star is in or The Star is out sign. The lounges are sleek and there is a Walk of Fame outside your door. My room, a comfortable mix of stainless steel, funky window shades and purple plush, completes the diva feel.

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 5 Diva
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 4 Diva

The location of Hotel Diva, near bustling Union Square, is equally wonderful. I have my breakfast at the local favourite, Dottie's True Blue Cafe. People are queuing up here as early as 7 am.

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 6 Art
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 7 Art

You can enjoy phenomenal views over the city from a bench in nearby Dolores Park. The district is also known for its murals – Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley in particular abound with these artworks. In the latter street I met an artist named Mel, who was creating a wonderful tribute to a great tattoo artist from San Francisco.

Murals in Mission

Street art & Bicycle culture

The Mission district is trendy, edgy and, above all, relatively flat, which explains the large number of cyclists.A constant stream of eye-catching messenger bikes pass by here and the riders are often quite eccentric. Mission is named after the oldest building in San Francisco, the Mission Dolores Church. 

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 8 Art
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 9 Art
  • Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 10 Street

Fillmore Street & Alamo Square

Inviting shop windows

The Shops on Fillmore make me wish I’d brought an extra suitcase – the range of original boutiques here is overwhelming. Fillmore Street is known as one of San Francisco's most versatile and attractive shopping streets, and for good reason. I walk among the trees from unique boutiques to relaxed lunchrooms and inviting storefronts such as Nest, which showcases necklaces from India and stationery from Paris. It's also nice to combine Fillmore Street with Alamo Square, with the famous Painted Ladies just a few blocks away.

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 12 Street
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 11 Street
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Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 14 Coffee

Coffee with Paul

Cable cars & Irish coffee

While a ride on the cable car isn’t exactly a hidden treasure (but still so much fun!), it brings me to one of the oldest cafés in San Francisco. The Powell-Hyde car ends right in front of the nostalgic Buena Vista Cafe at Hyde Street, near Fisherman's Wharf. The Irish Coffee Institute has been here since 1952 and its bartender Paul has been standing behind the bar for 36 years now. With ease, flair and a smile, he mixes one Irish coffee after another. Paul tells me that he makes around 2000 coffees a day. “On Saturdays sometimes 2800.” I don’t even drink coffee, but I can’t possibly skip this treat!

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 15 Coffee
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 16 Brew

   

SoMa'ch to see

Warehouses & Breweries

Art lovers can lose themselves for days wandering in the Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Gardens. And when the San Francisco Giants are playing at home, SoMa (South of Market) is flooded with baseball fans. This district south of Market Street is like nowhere else. The old warehouses accommodate trendy clubs and coffee bars, as well as companies like Twitter and DropBox. Creativity is the name of the game.

Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 19 Brew
Hidden Treasures San Fransisco 17 Brew

There are many microbreweries in San Francisco. In SoMa, I walk into 21st Amendment, where much of the beer is brewed on site. This makes for creations with, in their words, a ‘serious west coast attitude’. Cheers!

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