Tag Archives: California

Experience Fisherman’s Wharf in Downtown SanFran!

 By: Rohan 

Downtown San Francisco is stunning to say the least. It is filled with iconic landmarks ranging from the Transamerica Pyramid, Alcatraz Island, Pier 39, and the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. There’s so much to do in the Fisherman’s Wharf area that it’s sometimes hard to decide what to see first. Never fear, Paupers Without Travel is here to provide you with the must-do activities and restaurants you simply must see before leaving the harbor.

1. The Ghirardelli Store: Believe it or not, Ghirardelli was founded and established along the pristine waters of the San Francisco Bay in a factory-like building located on Pier 39. The store lights up at night with a giant neon sign overhead and unleashes an aroma of freshly-made chocolate, fudge, and cocoa throughout the wharf. The store is cozy, with plenty of room to sit down and have a bite of something sweet after a delicious dinner at the harbor. Adjacent to the shop is the Fairmont Hotel, a beautiful luxury resort with splendid views of the harbor.

2. See the Sea Lions: Many people miss this attraction in Fisherman’s Wharf because they are too busy to even notice it. As you are walking down Pier 39, you will come across a large rock near the dock. Every day, hundreds of sea lions gather on the boulder to soak in some sun and wave to tourists and residents alike. They are charming, silly, and cute animals just begging for attention. Make sure you have your camera ready! – PS – This year, the Sea Lions seem to have done a disappearing act! http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Famed-sea-lions-vanish-from-Fisherman-s-Wharf-5585563.php 

3. Boudin’s Bakery: Boudin’s is a restaurant off of Fisherman’s Wharf and across the street from Pier 39. It is similar to a Panera but has a unique German and central European flavor to it that is to die for. The bread comes out of the oven fresh and is delivered to your table not by a waiter, but by an elaborate system of baskets hanging from the ceiling that travels from table to table. Boudin’s certainly knows how to make the ordinary, extraordinary.

4. Candy: We mentioned the Ghirardelli store earlier but aside from that chocolate warehouse, Fisherman’s Wharf is littered with candy stores offering fresh taffy and caramel for you to indulge in. It’s all made at the wharf and there’s nothing quite like it.

5. Soak in the Sights: You never know what will happen on Fisherman’s Wharf. Near the carousel, you can usually find a street performer or two; juggling or doing magic tricks. Sometimes, there are spontaneous laser-light shows and fireworks that are completely unplanned and unannounced. Fisherman’s Wharf is vibrant when the sun sets and full of surprises making every day feel like something special.

After a relaxing evening at the Wharf, it’s fun to take a cable car up one of the sloped streets and see the wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the mysterious Alcatraz Island from a birds-eye view. Talk about a way to conclude a fun-filled day in San Francisco!

Disneyland during Christmas: It’s Possible

By Rohan:

There really is no better way to spend quality time with your family than a visit to a Disney theme park. Charming scenery, adorable characters, and pulse-pounding thrill rides make the trip worth the often exorbitant price tag. A Disney park is beautiful every day of the year, but on Christmas, Imagineers have their chance to shine. The holiday theme makes familiar amusement parks into the perfect Christmas getaway… as long as you don’t mind spending it with thousands of people. The harsh reality of Disneyland during Christmas time is the fact that it is a popular destination for families worldwide, attracting record-breaking crowds and forewarning a miserable day. However, we were able to do it.

Step One: The Right Place to Stay

While some websites recommend that you stay at a Disney resort to enjoy all the amenities they have to offer, the fact of the matter is that time is precious during the Christmas season. We recommend checking out some of the hotels that are just outside the park campus. The Embassy Suites and Anaheim Marriott Convention Center hotels are two great options, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Most of these hotels are considered “Good Neighbor” hotels, in that you can buy your tickets on the spot and catch a free (or very cheap) shuttle right to the main entrance. Goodbye hectic theme park parking! You won’t be missed!

Make sure you buy a Park Hopper pass, allowing you to enjoy both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Many people do not believe it can be done in one day, but it’s very manageable. Especially if you’re staying at one of these convenient hotels.

Step Two: Your Day at the Park

Make sure to get to bed early the night before. It’s going to be a lot of walking and you will have to get up much earlier than you probably want to on vacation. We suggest taking a bus that leaves around 9 or 9:30 in the morning. Here comes the real game changer: when you arrive on park grounds, go to California Adventure first, then Disneyland Park. For those of you who are unaware of the Anaheim Disneyland Resort, California Adventure has more thrill rides and family attractions based on popular Hollywood blockbusters. Disneyland is the iconic theme park complete with Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Space Mountain, and all your other favorites.

If you get to California Adventure on time, expect little lines on all your favorite attractions including:

  • Tower of Terror (30 minute wait tops)
  • Radiator Springs Racers (GET HERE EARLY and snag a fast pass before they sell out. This is California Adventure’s hottest attraction and you may have to come back late at night to ride. But it’s totally worth it so don’t miss out!)
  • California Screamin’ (15-20 minutes)
  • Grizzly River Run (5 minutes)
  • Toy Story Midway Mania (30-40 minutes) — you might need a fast pass here too depending on the time of day.

At around 4:00, head back to your Good Neighbor hotel and take a relaxing break. At around 6:00, head over to the Disneyland park. While most people are heading over to California Adventure, the crowds at Disneyland park are much more manageable. At 6:30, catch the tree-lighting ceremony on Main Street, then head to your favorite attractions, including:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (30 minutes)
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (10 minutes)
  • Space Mountain (20-30 minutes)
  • Splash Mountain (5 minutes)
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds (25 minutes)
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (10 minutes)

At the end of the day, head back to California Adventure one more time to hit up Radiator Springs Racers. And voila, you’ve done it!

Good Places to Eat: 

  • Cucina Cucamonga (California Adventure)
  • Main Street Bakery and Cafe (Disneyland Park)
  • Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta (California Adventure)
  • Cozy Cone Motel (California Adventure)

The Melt – Lunchbox Favorites in Palo Alto, California

By Rohan:

It is no surprise that the Grilled Cheese Sandwich has made itself a staple in the American Diet. You would’ve never thought that a lunchbox classic made with just bread and cheese could be toasted in a way that makes it a timeless treat regardless of the time of the year.  At the Melt, they take their Grilled Cheese Sandwich seriously. And with a location that is just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Stanford University, what is there to lose?

The Melt offers a unique ambiance along with its unique menu. Simple wall decor and bright colors parallel the eatery’s devotion to their simple menu. With just six different Grilled Cheese options inspired by different parts of the world, it is no wonder why this sandwich shop has lines out the door 24/7. If you feel like being traditional, the classic Grilled Cheese is a succulent option. With fresh sourdough bread and gooey melted American cheese. If want an Italian or Mexican twist, the Melt will gladly accommodate your request, substituting American sourdough bread with homemade garlic bread.

You can’t have a sandwich without a hearty soup to go along with it, and the Melt’s wide variety of soups also pay homage to different parts of the world. A Southwestern Black Bean soup, a rich Tomato-Basil, and a cozy Broccoli Cheddar are just few of the many options you have to choose from.

When it comes to comfort food in Northern California, we can’t recommend the Melt enough. Located in the bustling Stanford Shopping Center, their Grilled Cheese sandwiches provide the fuel you need to hit the stores or take an energizing walk through campus.

To learn more about the Melt, visit www.themelt.com