I Left My Heart in San Francisco....

So goes that age-old favourite by Tony Bennett. Who wouldn't, after encountering this beautiful coastal city in Northern California. The spirit of the season makes it all the more magical for us during our recent holiday in this city of 4.2 million (about the same as Singapore), which boasts some of the most instantly recognisable landmarks of American culture. I believe that our ubiquitous Swensen's Restaurant in Singapore was inspired very much by the spirit of San Francisco.

A view of the streets of San Francisco - in this case the famous Union Square area - by day.

One of the many restaurants at Pier 39, a festival marketplace beside the Pacific Ocean at San Francisco.

Fans of the hit movie Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks would be familiar with this restaurant chain offering fine seafood.

Naturally, Christmas is in the air with a giant Christmas Tree and presents to boot.

On our cruise around the San Francisco harbour area, we spotted these California Sea Lions lazing on the dock.

Our ferry was also followed by these amazing seagulls who soared and flew along with us.

Next up is the most famous icon of San Francisco - the Golden Gate Bridge. My son Ethan said that it isn't gold in colour but red!

The notorious Alcatraz island, location of many Hollywood movie shoots as well as David Copperfield's famous magical illusions. Once housing the most hardcore criminals in the city, it is now populated largely by curious tourists.

A view of the city of San Franciso perched high on a hill. You can see some of the landmarks like the famous Coit Tower from here.

At night, Union Square took on a different magical glow altogether when it was lit by Christmas lights. This of course is the famous Macy's store.

Street artistes like this gentleman lend a festive air to the season...

...as do these carollers sweetening the air with their Christmas choruses.

Of course, nothing is more Chrismassy than ice skating in the middle of Union Square. Boy is this cool or what. Unfortunately, I can't skate for nuts and thus can't join in the icy fun here.

To enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the city, we took a cable car ride and enjoyed an authentic experience.

Next up was a visit to bustling Fisherman's Wharf where we had nothing but...

...seafood, glorious seafood! Freshly caught off the ocean and cooked before our very eyes.

The sensational aquatic feast came in many different shapes and sizes - lobsters, prawns, crabs, fishes, mussels and clams galore!

To cap off the evening, we took a ride in these stretch limousines...

...and enjoyed feeling like a president for a night (despite the pain in the wallet)! Yes, San Francisco is charming and sweet, but it can be a pretty expensive city for anybody to live in.

In the spirit of the season, here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and great tidings for the New Year!

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