They’re back and at it again! Our favorite traveling couple, Darek and Ilona, haven’t been slowing down. With a trip planned at least every month, they’re perfecting the art of quick weekend getaways while still managing to pack in all of the must-sees!

This month, Ilona and Darek trekked across the country to visit the flamboyant city of San Francisco! Complete with a visit to infamous prison Alcatraz, stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and a lot of walking, we’re taking a moment to break down their trip and find out what the best things to do, see and drink are westward!

Why did you choose to visit San Francisco?

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Ilona: Most of our trips happen spontaneously – we might already have to go there, we might wish to travel there or we might drink too much and book a trip to Alaska (really!). We planned the trip after I learned that I was going there for the Google conference in the city. It would be a sin to not take off the additional days and spend a week there!

Darek: In our traveling world, usually one of us follows the other. On this trip, I alone sometimes – but, no worries, I am always open to explore new places.

Have you been before? 

Ilona: I’ve been there before but only for few hours on my way back from Napa Valley.

Darek: I’ve been there twice, for few hours with Ilona and long time ago for few days to visit a friend.

First things first, do you have an escape plan from Alcatraz?

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Darek: I do! First try not to be captured. If you’re unlucky enough to be locked in this prison, I would hire a drone that will pick me up from the common area and take me off the island!

Ilona: I think your imagination has gone too far. In 1963 there were no drones! There was only one escape from Alcatraz where three prisoners swam in very cold waters of the San Francisco Bay. And still, nobody knows if the escape was successful.

What is a place that you will always go back to no matter how many times you visit?

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Darek: Of course the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the symbol of this city. No matter how many times I look at it, it’s always something magical, something unique that I cannot describe.

Ilona: Definitely the Golden Gate Bridge is something that you should see again and again. The best place to see it is from San Francisco Recreation area or from the or from the Land’s End hiking trail. When it’s a foggy day it’s even more magical.

Do you think the fog is romantic or annoying? Why?

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Ilona: For me it’s still kind of magical but I am pretty sure that for people who live there are probably neutral. I would never think about it as something annoying, though.

Darek: Depends how you look at it. For us tourists, it’s fascinating! It definitely cools down the city so you don’t feel the summer heat. It was only annoying when we went to the Twin Peaks and wanted to take a nice picture but the fog covered the city constantly.

What do you like better about the West Coast?

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Ilona: I was positively surprised at how clean San Francisco is! Of course, it’s a big city, but it was cleaner than New York. But what I love the most about the West Coast are the mountains.

Darek: It’s definitely not flat and for me flat is boring. In a few hours drive, you can get to great mountains with fantastic terrain for skiing, hiking or biking.

Ilona: Yes, you can spend a long weekend in places like the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe and great national parks! East Coast also has the White Mountains or Adirondacks State Park but it’s a smaller version and requires longer drive from the city.

Darek: I forgot to mention the wineries! Wine is my passion, so West Coast is definitely the place to be.

What was the best winery that you visited?

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Darek: Most people go to Napa if they wanted to visit wineries. I don’t blame them. When I was in California for the first time, of course I went to Napa! Don’t get me wrong, Napa produces great wines, but you should be open to checking out other great regions.

Paso Robles is my new favorite. I love their rolling hills, space and less crowded wineries. We visited a few wineries, two of my favorites are Turley Wine Cellars for their great Zinfandel and Tablas Creek Vineyard for their Southern French style wines.

What is one word that you would use to describe San Francisco?

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Ilona: Start-ups. Maybe it’s because of my friends that I met up with there, but start-ups are a way of life! They pay good money, they have no dress code and great office space. The problem is that most of them will not survive more than 5 years.

Darek: Hills. It’s hard to find flat street in San Francisco. Everything is up or down. You don’t have to go to the gym, just take a walk around your block!

As a frequent traveler are there any travel apps you’ve been itching to create?

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Ilona: When you travel, language can be a big problem. I remember, when I was in Japan, it was hard to get a menu in English. Google Translate can scan the page and translate, but it could use some improvement, so I would definitely love to see a better app that can translate printed text by scanning.

Darek: When you travel to less developed countries, an app that shows you the quality of the roads and timetables for public transportation would be helpful.

Ilona: Now that you mention public transportation, I have another idea: it would be great to have an app to buy a ticket to the tram, subway or train based on your location. We can sometimes spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to buy a ticket!

What are 5 spots that you would recommend for a day in the city?

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Ilona: Definitely Alcatraz! I was impressed by the fact that I was in a prison and the audio tour they did was really good. Seeing the sea lions and walking around Pier 39 is another must. Of course, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. I really liked Musée Mécanique! It was a great idea to create a museum for all the old penny arcade games. As a fifth one, we would probably add Twin Peaks.

But this all is to do things when you are first time. I would always recommend just walking around and keeping your eyes open. Wherever you go there is always something great to see!

Have you traveled to San Francisco before? Are there any must-sees that you think are left out? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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