San Francisco,  Travel Tips,  USA

The three worst places for strollers: the silver medal

Moms and dads, hello! It’s a lovely Saturday morning and I know you’re thinking about the next 48 hours: all of us is getting ready for the soccer/artistic gymnastics competition, changing diapers, playing with Barbies, building a tree house, facing teething problems, going to the swimming class on time, baking pizzas, baking cookies, cleaning the kitchen from the batter of cookies your kids left everywhere, watching parts of that new Netflix movie while your baby is jumping on you, helping with the history essay, introducing solid food in your baby’s diet, dropping to birthday parties, hosting birthday parties, having your parents or your in-laws visiting, or even all of them at once, and showing off all of your diplomacy: “Oh, so nice to see you. I was really waiting to spend a day with you and listen to your precious advice about how I should raise my child. It is so very helpful and enriching to know your point of view, but I don’t think it is the case that Princess wears a hat in June in Italy. Oh, I see your concern for hygiene but I’m so concerned about reinforcing her hymmune system (go for this one if you attended a couple of years of theater labs at school). No, not all, I wasn’t planning to do anything on my free day: I’m delighted to have you all for lunch and discuss about how fantastically you raised your child (go for this if you are a professional actress) “. No worries. I suggest these quick three moves: you call your babysitter and organize a surprise date for you and your partner, you enjoy a coffee while reading this post and… you start thinking of vacations!! Yes: vacations. Wherever you are planning to go, our experience taught us it is very recommendable to bring a baby carrier for your little ones. Normally, you are not going to have problems with your strollers, but there are situations in which it is objectively difficult to push it. Hopefully, you have been enjoying our last post about the bronze-medal-awarded place to be with a stroller. If you didn’t, you cannot miss it! A small spoiler: it begins with S.

Let’s focus on our silver medal award. This winter, we visited a city where you can for sure stroll around with prams and pushchairs, still, we recommend to have a baby carrier at least for three reasons. We had our wonderful Ergobaby baby carrier with us, which can be used since the birth (not all of them are recommended during the first months of life) in three different positions, according to the age of the baby. As it was winter time, we also used the adaptable winter raincover, to keep Princess dry in case of rain and also protected from the wind. Both items proved to be very useful. Let’s see why.

And the silver medal goes to….

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco, California

Would you have expected this? Maybe not. San Francisco is very baby friendly: many things to do with kids, changing room in every cafeteria, especially at Fisherman’s Wharf, decent prices if you search carefully where to go with your family. So, why does it deserve a red light for strollers? Well, because we assume you are not gonna miss these:

  • 1. Cable cars. Don’t tell me you are skipping a ride on the World’s most famous cable cars! I can ensure you that if you indeed want to give it a go, you had better leave the stroller somewhere else. The beauty of Franciscan cable cars is that they are old-fashioned. They date back to 1873-1890 and are now a touristic attraction, rather than an actual mean of transportation. Indeed, the cable car system counts currently three lines that serves downtown areas and Fisherman’s Wharf. Mainly, areas located near touristic spots. Buses and trolleybuses run across the city and are used by commuters. To get on a cable car, you need to jump up a couple of high steps and sits are located immediately in front of the steps. There is no physical space to allow you on with a stroller. The option of folding it and carry the baby in your arms may be viable, in terms of space, though it depends much on your stroller’s bulkiness. Another reason that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, is the amount of people on board: being one of the main attraction in San Francisco, we found them packed with tourists at any time. Unless you are a true early bird, I wouldn’t recommend to challenge the resilience of a group of tourists with their cameras and phones in hand, ready to take pics and selfies of their trip. They don’t want your stroller to shade off the view of Union Square from the cable car. Plus, you don’t want to stand up to leave the sit to your folded stroller: especially as it gets down the hills, a cable car is not the most stable place to be, even less if you are holding a baby. Still not 100% convinced? Have a look at the picture below: look at the steps, look at the sits. Yeah, you should definitely have a look at the Ergobaby baby carrier link!!
Cable cars in San Francisco. Look at the steps, look at the sit and put your baby carrier in your luggage.
  • 2. (Escape from) Alcatraz. You cannot miss a trip to the most famous prison in the USA! Besides being very famous thanks to late seventies’ Hollywood movie, it’s worth visiting because it is now a museum about the history and life of the Alcatraz island. I found it very entertaining and well conceived. For families that have a baby and older siblings, it is a very good idea to make some historic visit, without risking to have bored kids snorting around. This is good news, but, if you have a little one in a stroller, leave it home (I mean the stroller, unless you manage to find a baby sitter in Frisco). Alcatraz is an island which means that you need to take a ferry to reach it. Cruises can be booked in advance (highly recommendable). We did it from Italy on Alcatraz cruises site and directly went to Pier 33 at the Marina in the morning of the visit. Having a stroller on a ferry can be quite difficult when getting in and getting off, even though the crew is very helpful and kind. Another drawback is that you have lower possibilities of moving around the ferry to enjoy the view of the bay. I know San Francisco is often foggy, but you can still be lucky, as we were, and catch a cloudy or even a sunny day! In which case: you do wanna see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Franciscan skyline at his best! Believe me: it is not a good idea to walk through a boat with a stroller. Once on the island, it is not impossible to visit it while pushing your stroller: we indeed encounter a couple of families with theirs. Still, the paths there were definitely not made to allow accessibility. You can bet it. And, all in all, we found it much more confortable to have Princess in her baby carrier, sharing “the burden” of carrying her between the two of us, rather then having to fight with every step and alley that we have encountered on “The Rock”. As for the visit: it is a pity to be there and not go and see such a landmark, even if it may sound complicated to face the whole cruise thing with babies. It is much easier than you think. For sure, easier than baking cookies at home in the afternoon: it does not require any cleaning up after all!
Three-month old Princess. Myself, still fighting with after-pregnancy kg (and still way I am), my beloved, always rocking Marco.
  • 3. Up and down the hills. One of the main features of San Francisco is being built on hills. That’s what all of us have in mind, together with the Golden Gate bridge, when thinking of this city. I have to say that it is part of its charm: I loved it! However, what it is not so clear, at least it wasn’t to me, is the slope of the streets that go up and down the hill. Believe me, it is the closest slope to vertical that I’ve ever seen in the real world, out of math books. For Franciscans, it’s a breeze to walk and even go jogging where you would go for climbing: you can see them running in the morning up the streets, while you try to collect all the energies you have to walk up. Unless you took your gym sessions very seriously or you were born on the Alps, it is a nightmare to push a stroller up the streets of San Francisco. And even more it is, when it comes to go down! That’s a fact that I am used to flatland, but believe me: I was feeling sick while walking Princess on her stroller. I was very seriously repenting to have always declined the invitation to go to the mountains by my friends and colleagues in Milan. Not that I haven’t had some sort of “climbing adventures”: I went up the Tour Eiffel on foot four or five times during my Parisian period, not to mention getting up the old-fashioned trolleybuses in Milan, with high heels, when it’s raining and when I’m late to the office. But no way, I still need to work on my hiking trail skills before I’m back to Frisco with a stroller. You can easily draw the conclusions with this quick test: 1.have you worked out at the gym more than twice per week, every week, this year (yeah, “work” out, not “hang” out)? 2. how many mojitos did you have on the beach last summer? If answers are: 1. No 2. You are counting, welcome to my team. I think you are not fit enough to push a stroller across Franciscan streets, but we will call you if we miss a player for beach volley this summer. Make sure you have enough space for your baby carrier next time you visit California!
Lombard Street. No, the pink one, unfortunally, is not my car.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *