The smart guide to a language stay in San Francisco: everything you need to know
San Francisco is part of one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Located at the edge of the Pacific, it shines California by its diversity. Its sweetness of life seduces more and more Europeans who do not hesitate to leave everything to live in Frisco, as the intimates call them. This little clever guide will make you discover this perfect city for a linguistic stay.
SAN FRANCISCO IN SOME KEY POINTS To get a first idea of San Francisco, there's nothing like knowing its identity card.
Population: approximately 870,000 inhabitants Area: The city of San Francisco covers 121 m². It is the 4th largest city in California and the 14th largest in the United States. Nicknames: Frisco, The City by the Bay: reference to its beautiful bay, Fog City: this nickname comes from its cool and foggy climate. He gave birth to a restaurant the Fog City Diner, and also to a music label, Fog City Records. Currency: Like all US cities, the US dollar is the currency. Languages: In Frisco, we obviously speak English with the American accent. Politics: Edwin M. Lee is the mayor of the city. Elected in 2011, he is the first mayor of Asia. But San Francisco is full of little secrets to come to discover in linguistic stay.
THE CLIMATE San Francisco is located along the ocean, its landscapes oscillate between hills and urban face. As for the climate, it is quite Mediterranean although quite fresh depending on the month. The weather is foggy as the Americans say, that is misty. It is the hinterland that brings this mist into the city center.
This fog is even more visible in summer than during other seasons because the warm air rises at the same time as the temperatures. That's why it's better to go on a language trip in the spring or fall. Of course, all periods have their advantages to stay in Frisco.
In winter: the rates are much lower, the weather is cool but not cold either. There are many festivities like Chinese New Year.
In summer: it's high season, prices go up and then there's that cold fog. The markets are open and there are many activities.
In spring: there are some occasional rains but most gardens are in bloom.
In autumn: the climate is much more stable and temperate and the prices are very advantageous.
Know that in the same day, all times can meet: clouds in the morning, sun at noon, then wind in the evening. It is recommended to bring a panel of warm and cold clothes into your suitcase to be prepared for sudden changes in temperature.
USEFUL AND UNUSUAL INFORMATION San Francisco is an attractive city that has not said its last word. At once modern and elegant, it puts everyone in agreement.
TRANSPORTATION If you decide to rent a car to get around San Francisco, good luck! It is not necessarily the conduct of the San Franciscans that is annoying but rather parking. Free car parks are in residential neighborhoods, out of the way of everything. The rates charged in car parks are just exorbitant, they can go up to $ 80 for just a day. It's a nightmare.
We therefore prefer to move on foot. The city is not huge and it is quite possible to visit the main tourist places in this way. Well you still have to pay attention to the unevenness. The streets are rollercoasters, it goes up and it goes down constantly.
Otherwise, the public transportation system is very well designed. For your stay, you can opt for a Muni Pass. This card allows you to take most transportation unlimited, instead of $ 2 each way. It is economical and super useful if you want to visit as many things as possible.
There are also the legendary Cable Cars that must be tested! True symbol of the city, it is trams, looking very vintage, towed by cable.
FOOD AND DRINKS Due to its modernity, the city is very far from the clichés of American gastronomy synonymous with fast food and other sodas. Here we eat healthy, with good seasonal vegetables. But, there are some must-haves, more or less appetizing according to your tastes, to discover without delay!
Dungeness Crab It results in the sleeper crab. Its season is around Thanksgiving (in November). This is the best time to enjoy it fresh and especially local. It is even better accompanied by an Anchor Steam, LA San Francisco beer.
Cioppino Behind this Italian-sounding name hides a fish soup with tomato. It is the result of the invention of fishermen from Genoa who settled in San Francisco. It mixes all the remains of fish and shellfish.
Hangtown Fry Always in the world of seafood, here is a very famous and original specialty: omelette with oysters and bacon. It's succulent but do not be afraid to take a few calories, the dish is (very) consistent.
Burrito The state of California has a common border with Mexico. This geographical rapprochement is reflected in certain dishes such as the burrito. If you're a fan of that kind of flavor, Mission District is your favorite neighborhood. It's up to you to decide which is the best!
Sourdough Bread This bread is typically from San Francisco. Small, crisp and tangy, it is offered on the tables of some restaurants. It is made from yeast, more or less ancestral. Variants are proposed, such as chowder. This is a soup that is served in a bowl made entirely of bread.
Two typical addresses are essential:
The big donut of Bob's Donuts To savor the biggest donut San Francisco has ever imagined, visit 1621 Polk Street. We advise you to go to several to enjoy it because it is really enormously.
Eatsa Eatsa is a canteen like no other. Located at 121 Spear Street, this restaurant is fully robotic. Very cold atmosphere and bio dishes minute, we go especially for the experience. The order is on a screen, a locker opens and you discover your order.
And to do the unusual, head to Chinatown, and more specifically, to 56 Ross Valley. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Factory is actually a small shop that makes fortune cookies. These are small cookies in which messages are hidden, such as quotes or other proverbs. Here it is possible to leave with your own personalized fortune cookies!
Money When it comes to sightseeing in the 4th largest city in California, do not expect to find cheap prices. In comparison to France, everything is more expensive, except shopping.
The sneakers and the shoes have prices 10 to 15% lower than in the hexagon. In contrast, restaurants are 17% more expensive. The food is, on average, 99% more expensive than at home. And the housing budget explodes literally being 126% larger. So prefer a language stay WITH housing, it will avoid spending all your money in a hotel or hostel.
In short, you will understand, life is still not given in San Francisco.
THE ESSENTIAL AREAS The neighborhoods of San Francisco are many and not alike. A short tour through the city:
CHINATOWN It is the Chinatown of the city. It is here that the majority of the Chinese community lives. It was founded in 1848 by the first three immigrants from China.
To see in Chinatown:
The Coit Tower, a tower erected in honor of Coit who remained silent for 12 years after the assassination of JFK. The City Lights Bookstore: a bookstore that is also a publishing house. This monument celebrates freedom of the press. The Dragon Gate: gateway (or exit) of the neighborhood. CASTRO Here is another atmosphere that reigns. Many gays are home in this corner of San Francisco. The place is ultra photogenic, if you want colorful memories it's THE place to be!
To see in Castro:
The Rainbow Housesur Clipper Street. This is a rainbow colored house. At 30 Seward Street is a toboggan for adults. What fun without fear of being judged by a child of 4 years. HAIGHT ASHBURY Once a landmark of hippies, Haight Ashbury is now a cocoon that contains the most revolutionary minds while remaining ultra pacifists. Peace and love are the hallmarks of this neighborhood very peace and love.
To see in Haight Ashbury:
Buena Vista Park: Elected the oldest and most wooded park in San Francisco. The Victorian houses, look up from the ground and admire the thousand and one colors of these special homes. MARINA DISTRICT Directly by the sea, this is the perfect place to spend a relaxing moment, have a picnic or go for a bike ride.
To see in Marina District:
Wave Organau 83 Marina Green Drive. This sculpture transforms the waves into a harmonious melody. We could stay there for hours! GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE This is not quite a neighborhood but a must monument. The cherry on the cake: the most famous bridge in the United States.
The best spots to see and photograph (if the fog allows it) the Golden Gate Bridge:
Land's End Labyrinth: we do not know why, or who the labyrinth was built from, but from here we have a magnificent view of the Golden Gate and the bay. Baker Beach: for the sand in the foreground and the bridge second. A real holiday postcard. Vista Point: It is located in the nearby town of Sausalito. Much more difficult to access, tourists do not rush on this point of view. This list is far too short and fast, do not hesitate to give us your good.
SECURITY Frisco is a safe city. There is no danger in walking the streets of the city, day or night. While it remains a big city, so be on guard as we are in Paris for example. But overall, it's a place where you feel safe.
There are still some neighborhoods to avoid. Tenderloin is quite badly attended. It has become the home of many homeless and drug addicts. Nothing too alarming, but for a first visit to San Francisco, better avoid the corner in the heart of the city.
PROHIBITIONS California legislation is one of the most unlikely and unusual in the United States. Here is a small sample, we are waiting for your opinion!
Peacocks have priority to cross any street. It is illegal to spit except on a basketball court. It is forbidden to wear cowboy boots if you do not have more than two cows. The car is the only object allowed in a garage. It is forbidden to pour salt on motorways. We can not chase a moth if it is under a lamppost in the street. You can not use the toilet if the window is open. Men with a mustache can not kiss a woman. A person with more than two cats or dogs is illegal. If Christmas lights are still visible on a house after February 2, the owner may be fined.
MUSIC AND EVENTS Every month has its share of parties and events of all kinds. In San Francisco, the population loves diversity and the people are very open minded. There are too many events to list, but we have selected a few.
JANUARY : Anniversary of Martin Luther King: The memory of the great Martin Luther King is celebrated in music and with good humor.
February: Chinese New Year: A grand parade is organized to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
MARCH : Asian International Film Festival
Jewish Music Festival
April: Cherry Blossom Festival Celebrates Cherry Blossoms in Japan's Japantown District
MAY : International Film Festival
On May 5th, Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo
June: LGBT Pride has become an institution in San Francisco. The whole city comes alive around the lesbian, gay, bi sexual and transsexual community. It takes place the last week of the month and brings everyone together without discrimination.
JULY : Every year in July, a march for AIDS research brings together many people.
August: The short film festival highlights auteur films.
September: Folsom Street Fair is a special event that celebrates fetishism, sadomasochism and other alternative lifestyles. It's quite original, and everything is allowed.
October: Castro Street puts on his best party costume, gays and lesbians are once again headlining.
November: Dia de los Muertos, the day of the dead is both strange and fascinating. All but morbid, this mythical holiday for Mexicans is synonymous with colors, costumes and music.
DECEMBER: For the Christmas season, the city offers outdoor rinks. Then go to Union Square for a few slides.
As you can see, San Francisco is a vibrant city with a great open-mindedness. There is a lot to discover and a language stay here is a magical opportunity. So do not hesitate and pack your bags, Holingo will do the rest!