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Published: September 28th 2016
Today was the first of two days we have to explore San Francisco on our own. We decided to take the campsite shuttle bus in for $12 per person return, which had to be booked by 9am for a 9.30 departure. The bus only seated 24 people and was full, but there are two more shuttle times 10.30 and 12.00. You a!so have to book your return time so we chose 6pm the earliest there was.
It took over half an hour to get in to the city as it was very busy. We were dropped off in the China town area, because the family running this campsite are Chinese and across the road from the drop off point they have a gift shop and bureau where you can buy different transport tickets. We decided to purchase a 1 day Muni pass, which let's you ride on all the cable cars, street cars and local buses. However, before riding, we had a little explore of the China town area which was very busy, as there are obviously many people of Chinese descent living here.
We had read that there were long queues to board the famous cable cars at
the terminals, so when we came across a stop we decided to wait for one to pass. Unfortunately the first two going past were full and there were a few French tourists waiting to board too, but they gave up and left and just as we were about to follow, one stopped and two people alighted, leaving just room for us in their vacated spots - right at the front end of the cable car standing room only!! There were two young American girls on the seats in front of us and we are obviously looking very old as they offered us their seats. No thanks we will just hang on tightly! Off we went clanging our way down Hyde street, firstly climbing, then after passing the famous Lombard Street of movie fame, speeding down towards Hyde street pier. It was quite a ride and we definitely had two of the best spots to enjoy it from. We headed onto the pier for a view of the famous bridge and Alcatraz island in the bay, but there was the famous San Francisco fog and we could only see the tips of these two landmarks. It was very hot again, but
you could feel the difference in temperature near the fog. We explored Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, two well known tourist areas, stopping for lunch, where we tried one of the local speciality dishes, clam chowder in a sour dough bowl. It was delicious.
We then boarded a street car to travel to the market place at pier 1, passing on our way along the Embarcadero a huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Nearby we hopped on a California street cable car, which is the oldest line, but not as popular as the other two, so we were able to bag two front seats with no hangers on in front of us. This time we passed many large skyscrapers and very expensive hotels as we climbed away from the sea front and on reaching the terminus we just got off and back on again at the front on the other side for a return journey. We then returned along the front on another street car; this one was painted bright yellow to represent an old Baltimore street car.
We had hoped to get another cable car to Lombard Street, but the queue was very long, so we walked up Hyde street to the top of Lombard Street, the famously crooked street and walked down it, watching the cars very slowly bend round and round the switchback road.
From there it was a bus to the top of Telegraph Hill, where Coit Tower stands for a good view over the San Francisco landscape, but the queue to get up in the elevator of course, was very long and we were running out of time, so we had a leisurely stroll back to the pick up point of our shuttle. Unfortunately the traffic was horrendous again and the bus didn't appear until after 6.30 and we then sat in traffic for ages, not returning here until nearly 7.30 pm. A very long but enjoyable day - we like San Francisco, but we don't like the traffic.
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