"I was here during the Second World War and the Cold War so it's interesting to see these ships here now," Oakland resident Joyce Heilig said.
The ship was open to the public for only three hours and those who lined up early enough got a rare experience.
"You can see the sailors they are all nice they say hi and you say hi back and they give you a tour and when you are Russian you can understand everything," Castro Valley resident Sasha Charchuk said.
The children had so many question -- all questions for the commander.
He showed ABC7 the small but valuable museum inside the cruiser holding artifacts of other old Russian ships and shared with us why San Francisco was such a big hit.
"People are amazing, they are so kind they stop cars in the middle of the road, get out of the car and give us presents and thank us for being in their city," Russian Commander Dmitriy Gashin said through a translator.
For Bay Area Russians, it was like having a piece of their country in San Francisco
"This is history. I am part of Russian culture," Liliya Zingertal said.
Some displayed their old Soviet Navy medals and poured out their hearts.
For Zingertal, it was chance to go back in time, if only for a few minutes.