If there is one thing I recently learned, it is that you never know what America has in store for you to explore. San Francisco is one of those American gems that charmed me immediately. I had a half-day layover last Saturday as I was flying back to school in New Mexico. Since my flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco arrived quite early in the morning, I decided to make a quick visit to the downtown area of the city.

Here are some photos I took (click on any picture to enlarge it to full size):

I took the BART train from the airport station to Powell station. This ride took me right to the heart of downtown San Francisco, where the streets are crowded with malls, retail stores, restaurants and cafes?

BART train in San Francisco

San Francisco public transport map

The Powell station was underground, so it was a really awesome moment as I walked up towards the streets ? I was immediately captivated by the varied architecture of the lofty buildings. These are some of my favorite ones:

It was nice to see the quiet version of San Francisco at 7 am and just another hour later, the opposite version of it, as the city wakes up. People started to crowd the sidewalks, cars and buses to fill up the streets.

9 san fran in the morning
San Fran in the morning

10 san fran in the afternoon
San Fran in the afternoon

Most of my visit entails merely walking around, but that was more than enough because this part of the city is so unique.

11 views of san fran
Views of San Francisco

13 views of san fran
Views of San Francisco

14 views of san fran
Views of San Francisco

12 views of san fran
Views of San Francisco

I sat down at a Starbucks café to enjoy a latte while watching crowds of people walk by.

15 starbucks in san fran
Starbucks latte

In the afternoon, I went back to the airport to catch my 3 pm flight back to Albuquerque. After the plane landed, I was able to catch this awesome view of the skyline at dusk. What a scene to conclude my eventful trip!

16 sky from an airplane
View from an airplane

17 sunset from an airplane
Sunset from the airplane