City Hall, Union Square, and Chinatown

Good times in downtown San Francisco, despite the rainy weather

Friday’s rain sure made the day an adventure. We went up to San Francisco using both Caltrain (large commuter train) and BART (the subway system). The entire process takes about an hour to get up to the city. It was Bernd’s (the teacher chaperon) birthday today and we sang to him when we got on BART. The students were all very excited about the day, because we were going to Union Square for shopping. First, we took a tour of the UN Plaza in front of  City Hall, but kept our visit quick because of the rain.

We then took a tour of San Francisco City Hall where our tour guide gave us the history of the building and even took us into the room where all of the big public decisions are made. The students sat on the marble stairs and listened attentively, and even saw several marriages taking place as well.

Sampling San Francisco’s food trucks

Before the tour I noticed many yummy food trucks lined up in the park across from City Hall, and I explained to the students the new trend of the food trucks and how good the food is. For those of you who don’t know about the food trucks, these are mobile restaurants out of a truck, with truly delicious food! There are so many of them serving all kinds of food in San Francisco. Today they had Mexican, Mediterranean, Bacon Bacon (anything you can think of with Bacon), Indian, and food from the Philippines. Some of the students got a snack on the way to lunch after the tour and liked the new foods. Raffela said that her taco was great and tasted like BBQ Pork.

Union Square shopping and exploring Chinatown

After City Hall, the students had free time around Union Square and the mall for shopping and lunch. They all came back with several bags, and were excited about the new things they got for “so much cheaper than at home!” As always, they of course wanted more time, but we had more to see.

From there we took a tour of Union Square and walked into Chinatown. Founded in 1850, it is the oldest Chinatown in the US, if not the world (well except for China of course). As we walked down the streets of Chinatown the rain really started coming down and we took over the streets with our umbrellas.

You really feel like you are in another country; the street and store signs are in Chinese and some not even translated. We wandered down the narrow streets and an alleyway and visited a fortune cookie factory where we sampled vanilla and chocolate fortune cookies. Then we walked up to the Cable Car Museum before we had some free time to explore and shop in Chinatown. The wind and rain was pretty crazy, so much so that my umbrella was so bent out of shape that I needed to get a new one in Chinatown.

We hurried back to the BART to make it on time. On BART back home we pretty much took over and entire train car and sang Happy Birthday to Annika, as her birthday is Saturday. Then onto Caltrain to meet the host families back at the train station. It was a long day, but I think everyone had fun and at the very least it was an adventure!

– Marya

Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

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