Published: April 15th 2011April 15th 2011
I arrived late, about 1130pm but already had acommodation booked in downtown San Francisco (SF) in the Bay City/Peninsular area. I stayed right in the middle of the city about two blocks from Market Street and Union Square and my first impression was that there are bums everywhere! It didn't take long though to see that the homeless, or street community, are a really friendly bunch and there are a great selection of characters. Downtown SF is a pretty cool place to be and oozes diversity with a constant whiff of weed in the air! The area essentially consists of Downtown - Market Street and Union Square, The Ferry Building area, Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf, where the clam chouder served in hollowed out bread is really nice, particularly if bought from a street vendor rather than one of the chains.
I went for a walk across the Golden Gate bridge. Getting there involved just two short bus journeys via Golden Gate park. Although the bridge was opened in 1937, it wasn't actually completed. It was supposed to be finished in grey, just like the SF Bay bridge but the locals liked the colour of the undercoat so much they
decided to leave it the colour it is today. It became known as International Orange. I thought I'd just get the bus back to the park and walk back, and a very nice walk it is too. Once I eventually found my way out of the park (I missed the bus stop and the next one seemed miles away), straight along Fulton and through the Civic Centre.
SF is a hilly city and is famous for its cable car network. It's divided into four cables and powered from a central place. The cable car barn is also a museum where the workings of the entire system can be viewed.
The Yosimite national park is the first US national park I've been too and it has to be one of the biggest views I have seen so far. Its centre piece is a rocky valley within the Sierra Nevada mountain range. For simplicity and to get the area done quicky, I did a tour because I thought this would save on a rental car and spending half a day trying to find the place. The tour guide, our driver, was expert on where to go and how to get
there which saved loads of time. It also mean't I could get back to SF and organise getting myself to Los Angeles (LA).
There seems to be a lot of belittling of the Greyhound bus services across the USA. Of course, the USA is a massive country and it's usually easlier to fly. However, I hear that my visit to the USA coincides with spring break which explains why flights are expensive (typical, lol). A typical, localish, internal flight has gone from about USD50.00 to over USD200.00. I thought I'd try the Greyhound between SF and LA. It wasn't full of nutters that I had been warned about, it's just a normal coach service. At the time I was thinking this, we pulled up by the side of the road with engine trouble, the first break down of my entire journey but some how still made it to LA on time :-)
I based myself in Hollywood, just 50 metres from Hollywood Boulevard itself, where the 'stars' paving slabs are and from where the Hollywood sign can be seen in the hills. There are Zoltar fortune telling machines scattered across the place. Santa Monica pier almost provides the
boundary between Santa Monica beach and its neighbouring beach, Venice. Both, the home of roller blades and cycling are pure powdery white sand lapped by the clear North Pacific ocean. Beverley Hills and in particular Rodeo Drive are en-route from Hollywood. However, I didn't turn up in a flash car like some people, but settled for the number 720 bus! After transferring from the number 217 on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, where I incidentally stumbled across a classic car museum, so paid a quick visit. Rodeo Drive is a high end, palm tree lined shopping street aimed at the rich and famous, I, not being quite so rich or famous, managed some window shopping.
There is the old and new Downtown and various other areas of central LA. It is not the hard nut intimidating city I had expected. Infact, as far as I could see it's the total opposite. It goes to show that image can be completely misleading and you really have to see it for yourself. I was pleasantly surprised and there were one or two little things that I wasn't expecting. A small food market in a park selling, amongst other things, yummy
hot dogs, where all the office workers seemed to go and the Angels Flight cable car / lift to Grand street. Some say LA is a whole lot of nothing, others say it just take ages to get anywhere and you definately need a car. However, the public transport, the people and the place seemed ok to me, and I've been to quite a few cities around the world now. Not only did I enjoy my stay, I would recommend it to everyone. Its a great place to be and I just get the feeling that LA is 'where its at', and I am here :-)
It was easy to round off my visit to LA with some lights and carpet. Universal Studios is a fun place to visit and the park itself leads off of CityWalk. The budget is running low now and still have to get across the USA so didn't go into the park itself, but settled for CityWalk and Arthur, at their cinema.
I'm going to have couple of days of R and R then going to Union station to get the train... Just for the record tho, a limey with a tan is
not an Australian! :-)
There are more photos below