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Published: January 29th 2012
What a fabulous city, and what a shame I can't stay for longer. They are not kidding about the fog though, although happily I also got to experience San Francisco in the sunshine, and what a treat.
The trip to San Fran from Cancun was a long one, not helped by the six hour stop over in Houston on the way. I was excited however to discover somewhere to get a massage, and I had lunch at the delicious Pappadeaux on the recommendation of the Texans when I was in Cuba. They did a very good deed, it was great, bless their hearts!
On my first day I decided to take the hop-on hop-off bus. Taking more recommendations from friends I chose the blue bus outside Macy's on Union Square, a very short couple of minutes from my hotel. It was a great way to get my bearings and see San Francisco's hot spots. The driver was also threw in a couple of jokes, plus lots of information that I wouldn't have gleaned elsewhere, so it was a great way to spend a couple of hours. That day however the fog was extremely thick. So thick that when we
The painted ladies and the San Francisco skyline
Apparently the second most photographed house in the USA. The White House is number one.
got to the Golden Gate Bridge for a ten minute stop, I couldn't see it. I walked right up until I was standing on it, and I still couldn't see it! I sure hoped the fog would lift before I left.
I got off the bus just before Union Square, at the Yerba Buena Gardens for a visit to the San Francisco Modern Art Museum. I lucked out with my timing, as the free public tour departed about one minute after I walked in. It's a lovely museum, and after braving the cold on the top of the bus, it was the perfect thing to do to warm up.
Then followed a period of consumerism. Again my timing was perfect, as there were sales everywhere. Given the weather, my priority was to find a coat, and I was delighted to find a perfectly good wool coat at Zara on sale for $29....it did me proud for my three day trip!
I was very lucky to have been invited to dinner by Dave and Merry Jo
, fellow travel bloggers. They had been in touch some time ago, and I mentioned that I was heading to San Francisco, which is where they
are currently living, and we set up time to meet. We had a fabulous meal in Chinatown, at the House of Nanking, and great conversation. I really enjoyed meeting some fellow travel lovers, hearing their stories and their plans for the next trip.
Day two dawned, still foggy. I had pre-booked a trip over to Alcatraz, and headed over early, on the 9.10 sailing. We sailed off into a big white void, which got thicker and thicker. I became despondent of ever seeking the famous bridge.
Alcatraz itself was absolutely fabulous. I wasn't sure how excited I would be about visiting an old prison, and only did the trip on the recommendation of several friends. They were all right, I loved it. The audio guides were fantastic, voiced by old guards and inmates, and gave a real sense of time and place. It also meant that all the other tourists just melted into the distance and it felt a lot like a private tour.
Then however I got really lucky, the sun came out and burned off the fog, and finally I saw the bridge! And the view back to the city - it was stunning. The
weather stayed perfect for me until I left.
Back on the main land I had consulted my map and decided to walk the few blocks to North Beach, the Italian quarter, to work up an appetite for lunch at an italian restaurant. Well I certainly worked up an appetite. The map made it look so easy. However what it neglected to mention was that between me and Columbus St, my destination, was a bloody enormous hill and it couldn't be avoided.
I ended up walking up about a gazillion steps to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower. I counted the steps as I went and it was higher than the sun and the moon temples in Teotihuacan combined
I ended up in Washington Square, where Mike, my driver from the previous day, had told us that Marilyn Monroe and Joe Di Maggio had their wedding photos. I then double backed to see the world's crookedest street, Lombard Street. I confess that I took advantage of the zoom as by that stage I was well and truly over hills and couldn't drag my sorry butt up the hill for a closer look. I then took myself back, over hill
and dale, to Columbus St, where I well and truly deserved my crisp Californian Rose and my pasta with osso bucco.
Despite all the hills I enjoyed the walk immensely and saw behind the tourist curtain into some gorgeous residential areas. I was also impressed at how incredibly friendly everyone was. One woman volunteered her assistance as I was pondering my map and how to avoid another damn hill, while another man struck up conversation as I looked up towards the world's crookedest street, then wished me a nice time in the city. Despite the huge numbers of tourists, people are still very friendly and welcoming.
That evening I went to the theatre. It had been a suggestion by Pati and Neil when we were in Cuba that if we were on our own it would be a fun thing to do in the evening, and having sent Lucy ahead as reconaissance a week ahead of time, I went to a play by a local guy called Humor Abuse. It was at the American Conservatory Theatre, only a couple of blocks from the hotel, and a very enjoyable way to spend a Friday night.
My final day
All I could see of the Golden Gate bridge
Even when I was standing on it, I couldn't see it.
I decided to take myself on another walking tour, this time to the Mission district, or Latino neighbourhood. I visited the Dolores Mission, wandered up to the Dolores Park, and over to Valencia and Mission St. It was a fascinating part of town, with lots of colour, and great people watching.
San Francisco is wonderful city and I loved it. It would have been great to have had more time there - see the Redwoods, explore the wine country, walk the bridge, and spend more time in some of the San Fran neighbourhoods. But as Dorothy said, there's no place like home, and that's where I'm headed.
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