Teas, Temples and Beatniks

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 An Urban Adventure In San Francisco

After a lot of research on things to do, where to go and places to see in San Francisco we realised that the best way to really see the city was to do a tour. We chose to go with Urban Adventures as they had received great feedback online and they offered what we thought were really cool itineraries in San Francisco.
We decided to go with the Teas, Temples and Beatniks tour as we love visiting different Chinatowns around the world to see how unique they all are… and we have a soft spot for everything Italian!

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Our Tour
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We met up with our tour guide Linda at the famous Dragon Gate, the south entrance to Chinatown. Here we started our tour by learning the history and symbolism of the gate and it’s intricate details. Before moving on to our next stop the mysterious circle of red bricks in front of the gate was also explained… want to know what they are? We’re not telling. Do the tour!
 
Next we walked up Grant Avenue through the heart of Chinatown whilst listening to the story about Chinatown’s origin, architecture, culture and people. The facts and stories switched between being intriguing and amusing, short and long.
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After some walking we made a stop at Chinatown’s oldest bakery, the Eastern Bakery. Here we had a little sit down while eating a traditional mooncake. The cake didn’t look all that fancy, but oh boy was it delicious. Unlike anything we’d ever had before!
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We walked on with more old tales and myths until we reached our next destination, the Tin How Temple. This was one of our favourite stops on the tour. Walking over the doorstep into the temple’s main room (no photos allowed) was like stepping into another world. The colours, details and energy of the room was just unique and can only be experienced to be understood. We donated some money, burned incense and had our fortune told. Will the fortune come true? Only time will tell…
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The fortunes didn’t stop at the temple, but continued on at our next stop, the Fortune Cookie Factory. We got some fresh, crispy tasting samples and we watched fortune cookie batter turn into fortune cookies. If you wanted to you could also make personal fortune cookies with your own written fortune in it – a great gift to bring home.
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After fortune must come tea… Luckily Vital Tealeaf was our next stop. Six different teas were offered and we learned how they’re grown, harvested and prepared. Marita discover a new favourite, so this was definitely a great stop on the tour.
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Chinatown was coming to an end, but that didn’t mean that the tour was over. North Beach and Little Italy was waiting with it’s interesting past, historic places and well-known characters like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.  
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As we walked through Little Italy we stopped literally on every corner at every block we passed as there were so many places to point out and talk about. The walk was a great mix between new and old stories, art, culture and beatniks, eateries and shops. We were highly impressed by this one-of-a-kind neighbourhood in San Francisco!
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The tour finished up by the lovely Washington Square Park. From here it was easy to continue on with our own sightseeing as the park is conveniently close to the Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf and public transport to the rest of the city.
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 Top 3 Highlights

 

We are such foodies that everything with food included is a highlight, so the mooncake tasting was one of our favourite moments on the tour.
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The fortune reading at the temple was simply magic and the views from their balcony was a bonus surprise.
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Our walk through North Beach and Little Italy was a highlight as there was so much interesting history and culture within the streets and buildings that we had no idea existed in that part of San Francisco.
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We were really impressed with our tour guide and her knowledge of San Francisco. The tour was interesting from start to finish and our group was small so it was easy to listen and keep up with the walking and talking.

Cost: $43 * Duration: 2,5hrs * Physicality: Low * Awesomeness: Very High

In addition to awesome tours in San Francisco, Urban Adventures are all about responsible tourism and animal welfare which is very important to us. They have tours with unique itineraries in over 90 countries (!) around the world and their guides are locals with flair and passion for their job and city!

If you’re after a high quality tour in San Francisco (or anywhere else) we sincerely recommend going with Urban Adventures!

More about tours in San Francisco and booking
can be found by clicking 
HERE

 

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*This tour was sponsored by Urban Adventures in San Francisco. However, as always our opinions are 100% honest and trustworthy!

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37 Comment

  1. This was fascinating. Never had a mooncake so a tasting sounds like a wonderful idea. San Francisco is has a very diverse culture making it the perfect destination. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Neither had we before going on the tour. It’s such an interesting texture and taste, you just have to try one if you’re ever in Chinatown!

  2. I loved San Francisco! just wandering around! beautiful . lovely reading too

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Thanks Isabella. We couldn’t get enough of SF and look forward to going back 🙂

  3. Vyjay says: Reply

    San Francisco is such a charming place. The city comes alive through your post, in all its vibrant colours. Would love to get out there and experience the city.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Yes you should. So much to do and see and the food is amazing too!

  4. What a great tour! Lots of food and interesting places to see.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Yeah we know. As much fun as walking around on your own is, you can’t beat a local’s insider tips when it comes to doing a tour!

  5. What an awesome post. Its been a few years since i made it out to SF (or Cali for that matter) but a trip is due very soon! Very excited to visit!

    1. Marita says: Reply

      We’re excited for you, it’s so amazing here! Enjoy your travels 🙂

  6. Gabi says: Reply

    I love URBAN ADVENTURES! I recently chose them to tour one of my favourite cities in Greece and they proved so knowledgeable and fun that I am seriously considering getting in touch with them for every new city I plan to visit. They were awesome with you too in San Francisco, as I see from your article. Getting to know the local side of a place is an awesome way to travel.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      So glad you liked them too! I can’t wait to check out more of them in the future, hopefully again when we go to Amsterdam next week.

  7. Joanna says: Reply

    This tour sounds like my cup of tea 🙂 That mooncake it actually looks very delicious, what was inside it? I would love to see myself a fortune cookie factory and even write my own messages in a few. I have been looking for a service like this and it seemed like the only option was to actually make my own fortune cookies. Shame I am across the pond from San Francisco.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      The mooncake consisted mainly of lotus paste, not everyday you eat that, so really glad I got to experience it! I had never though of making personal fortune cookies before, it’s such a great idea – and a great excuse to visit San Francisco all the way from across the pond 😉

  8. Shane says: Reply

    San Francisco is such a vibrant and colorful city! This looks like a comprehensive way to see all the sights in a short time frame!

  9. Amy says: Reply

    First, I can’t believe the red bricks are being kept secret! And second, you had me at mooncakes, they sound amazing. We have only been once, and I fell in love with San Francisco, but we missed our chance to see Chinatown. It sounds like a fantastic tour that would be worth taking if we return!

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Then you have Chinatown, mooncakes and the tour to look forward to next time! The red bricks are interesting, I would have never noticed them without our guide pointing them out. They are actually there to show firemen where the “back-up” water tanks are underground, from back in the days when hauling water up the hills were to difficult. Not sure how much use they are today, but it’s an interesting part of San Francisco’s history.

  10. Johann says: Reply

    SF sounds and feels so different what we are lead to believe from TV. I haven’t been to the USA yet but a trip sometime soon is on the cards. It would be great to visit this city and experience it the way you did. The cake sounds like you went to the moon and back. Great read.

    There seems to be something wrong with the twitter share feature at the bottom of the post. Maybe you should tweak the settings a bit.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Thanks for pointing that out, had no idea! Will have to look at the share feature and figure out how to fix it.

      And yes, very different from TV, but in a surprising positive way! Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge was awesome though, you’ve seen it some many times on TV and in photos – actually seeing it for ourselves was a magic experience! It’s been like that almost everywhere though, the US have rarely disappointed us and we highly recommend a visit 😀

  11. Luca says: Reply

    The first and last mooncake I ate was the Cantonese one, and it had inside yolks from salted duck eggs. I didn’t like it at all, but I couldn’t understand the ingredients so I bought it 😀
    About Little Italy, I heard nowadays Chineses are “conquering” that area too, so it becoming less and less Italian. Do you confirm that?

    1. Marita says: Reply

      We had the option of the yolk, but opted out. So maybe if you dare trying it again, go for the one without the yolk 😉 There were definitely some Chinese places in Little Italy, as well as a very random taco places wedged between to Italian restaurants… but I still felt the Italian charm and wouldn’t say the area was “conquered”, but who knows what it might look like as time goes by. Have noticed big changes happening quick in other cities, so might happen there too.

  12. This seems like such a great tour. We love fortune cookies, how cool that you got to watch them make them. We’ve not been to San Fransisco, and to be honest it wasn’t that high on our list. You’ve made the city look amazing though, so maybe a trip will be in the works.

    1. Marita says: Reply

      So glad that we might have convinced to you to want to see SF. We were truly surprised about how cool the city was and how much there was to do even though it’s quite small compared to other places in the US. And it was sunny the whole time we were there so that definitely helped on the impression!

  13. Sudipto De says: Reply

    What is a mooncake and tell us a bit more about the teas? This tour does sound fascinating. We will definitely check it out when we get to San Francisco.

  14. Gareth says: Reply

    What an incredible experience and really, there can’t be too many more diverse places on the planet that San Francisco. It’s great how these communities continue to survive and they had such a fantastic flavor, both literal and figurative to a city. And, being a fan of mooncake, I can attest to how awesome it is

  15. Seems like a very interesting tour! I love the way they’ve mixed a bit of everything…culture, popular sights and food. Being a foodie and tea-drinker, I would love to try the moon cake and tea. I’m going to have to bookmark your post for my next visit to San Francisco. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Thank you for recommending Urban Adventure. Looks like a great tour! Awesome posts!

  17. At times it is best to take such touring groups’ help. With less time in hand they help you see more with their plans. Enjoyed seeing the places you visited.

  18. Visiting San Francisco will always be on my list, yet I just know that there is a little Chinatown only upon reading this. It is interesting that you wanted to visit every one of them in the world. I can see how your guide, Linda, gave you a great tour to the place. Also, I want to try making my own fortune cookie, that looks really fun.

  19. This must have been a great experience. Nothing like peeling off leayers of history of a great city with a help of a knowledgeable guide. Would have liked to see a bit more of our favorite Beatniks.

  20. What a great tour 🙂 I was in San Francisco a year ago but didn’t have lots of time to explore. I did really like the city though, so hopefully I’ll be back again soon!

  21. Brian says: Reply

    San Francisco is my 2nd favorite American city. That’s great how you got to see the fortune cookie factory. I don’t enjoy the taste, but find it hilarious that they are from California!

    1. Marita says: Reply

      Yeah I know. I had no idea that they are actually an American thing and not a tradition from China!

  22. I prefer to explore on my own, without a tour guide. But if I don’t have much time and would like to get to know more about a place, a tour is definitely an option to go for. As a foodie, the mooncake started to intrigue me. It must be yummy!

  23. Sarah says: Reply

    We don’t usually take guided tours, because we like to keep our own pace, but this looked lovely! I love visiting different city’s Chinatowns. I wouldn’t have been able to leave without grabbing something savory though! Also, neat seeing fortune cookies be made!

  24. Rachel says: Reply

    Oh wow! I definitely missed out on exploring Chinatown in more detail!

  25. Thanks for sharing this! It’s been a while since I’ve been to San Fransisco, but looking at your photos and reading your words, I feel like I’m back there. 🙂

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