From San Fran to San Jose

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When planning what we wanted to see and do in San Francisco I knew there was one place we couldn’t possibly miss.

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I’d read about Mr Holmes Bakehouse and the Instagram-worthy wall and tasty treats were more than enough to entice me.

We made it our first stop of the day to fuel up for a slow crawl through the prettiest bits of San Francisco.

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Suitably stuffed we headed to the ‘most crooked street in the world’.

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With 8 hairpin turns this one block section of Lombard street is one of San Francisco’s most famous sights. In lieu of waiting in an agonizing line of cars to crawl down the street at less than 1 mile an hour we parked at the top and made our way down on foot.

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After picking out my house (the delightful blue bombshell below) and marvelling at the man-made wonder we started the climb back to the car.

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From Lombard Street we went to the Marina area, enjoying the relative tourist-free calm and pretty coloured houses.

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I think this one suits me best.

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After a quick stop at the Palace of Fine Arts we went to visit San Francisco’s most famous residents.

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The Painted Ladies!

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(This is not an ad but definitely #ImWithHer)

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Truthfully? They were smaller than I thought they’d be! Still, it was a treat to see them in person and they whet my appetite for gorgeous Victorian and Edwardian houses.

Thankfully there are plenty to choose from in San Fran, especially in the glorious hamlet of Haight-Ashbury.

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Named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets the neighbourhood is known as the birthplace of hippie counterculture.

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The detail is absolutely incredible and I could easily have wandered for hours up and down the streets.

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Eventually we dragged ourselves away as we had dinner plans in San Jose and a date with history first.

After fighting our way through the traffic we arrived at the Winchester Mystery House in downtown San Jose.

Having never heard of it before we came across a little blurb about it in our guidebook while making plans back in Napa and it was enough to seriously pique our interest.

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The Winchester Mystery House mansion was once the personal home of Sarah Winchester, the widow of the Winchester gun magnate and it’s famous for its architectural curiosities and complete lack of a master building plan.

Construction commenced in 1884 and continued until Mrs Winchester’s death in 1922. It’s said that a psychic told her she would be haunted if she ever completed construction so she just kept going, asking for new additions and changes on an ongoing basis. Makes sense, I guess?

This has led to some…interesting quirks. Doors and windows that go to nowhere, staircases that rise 20-odd steps to cover a height of only nine feet and rooms built on top of rooms in a manner that completely confuses any sense of direction. Unfortunately pictures aren’t allowed inside so you’ll just have to believe me when I say it was more than a little odd!

After only a few minutes in the house we had literally no idea how to get back to where we started and so we stuck close to the guide. (It was also worth it to keep close as there was a strange love story happening between the 50-year-old, 4’9″ guide and a 20-something 6’2″ guy. Suddenly there were in jokes! And high fives! It was all very confusing but we couldn’t look away…)

Like Hearst Castle it wasn’t on our original plan but, like the castle, I’m so glad we decided to give it a try! Even if you can’t make it to San Jose it’s worth a poke around the website.

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Great things happen when you don’t make plans!

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