One of the things we especially like about our little JWalking trip is that we get to meet all sorts of people in different places and actually experience what it’s like to live in those places for a while. We aren’t on holiday and we don’t see ourselves as tourists although we do try to fit in a few tourist-type adventures along the way.
Our stay in San Francisco has been slightly different to other locations as we only had a week and there were just so many places that we wanted to visit. As I mentioned previously accommodation here is incredibly expensive also so we just couldn’t stay any longer really. It’s one of the few cities in the world where hotels and motels are cheaper than Airbnb unbelievably. So we’ve been in and out the city every day on the BART and have masqueraded as tourists just a little bit. (apologies if I’ve swamped you with photos this time, just got a trifle excited).
San Francisco Cable Cars
After the excitement of Alcatraz you would have thought we’d have wanted or needed a day off, but no! Back into the city. We loved our cable car ride so much that we decided we needed to go again. So we queued with all the other tourists at Powell Street listening to a Nat King Cole lookalike fellow murdering song after song. He was so friendly and smiley and full of old-world charm but every single tune he sang sounded identical. Funny to begin with but not so entertaining after half an hour! Thank goodness the cable car turned up when it did!
Once again it was so exciting to be hanging off the front as the driver careered up and down the steep hills and raced around the corners, we loved it.
Ghirardellis Ice Cream
At the end of the line we just fancied a quiet wander around the North Beach area and found ourselves outside Ghirardelli Square, home to bakeries and coffee shops and the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. After trying as much of the free chocolate as we could get away with we found ourselves seated in the historic shop with two incredible ice creams placed in front of us! What were we to do?
Fishermans Wharf and Pier 39
More wandering down to the Maritime Museum for a quick look around before heading along to the world famous Fishermans Wharf. It’s one of those iconic must-see places in San Francisco and full of fish restaurants and souvenir shops and many weird individuals just hanging out and doing their thing. Here are a few photos of some of those people, make your own minds up …….
It’s these people that give the city it’s character and it’s charm I think. You wouldn’t want to spend a whole day with any of them or get trapped in a lift together but they certainly add colour to the area.
Predictably we just had to get one last cable car back to the centre of town, we just couldn’t get enough of hanging on the side and being shouted at by the drivers and conductors!
The Golden Gate Bridge
Our big plan for our last full day was to get a sightseeing cruise out into the bay and see the Golden Gate Bridge in all its glory from close range. We went for the Red and White fleet which was based on Pier 43 1/2 (very Harry Potter isn’t it). The Red and White cruises have been running since 1913 when the Worlds Fair was held in San Francisco and take visitors out to the famous bridge and then around Alcatraz Island. We’d visited the island previously so our trip was all about the bridge.
Now a boat full of hyperactive Asian tourists intent on photographing absolutely anything that moved could have been a bit stressful but with the use of our sharp elbows and some strategic blocking tactics we got a good spot near the front. Jo did ask a friendly American guy to take a photo of us with the Golden Gate in the background but he managed to get one missing our heads, another of the floor of the boat, and a third that included his finger and a Chinese family. Brilliant! Surely we didn’t have to resort to a dreaded selfie again? (someone with a bit of sense took the one below as we left).
The Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937 and is over a mile and half long and isn’t just orange, it’s official colour is ‘International Orange’. The actual channel between Sausalito in the north and the city in the south is called the Golden Gate, it wasn’t just a name made up for the bridge. The project was started in 1916, so it took over 20 years for the bridge to be completed. It’s a bit gruesome but fascinatingly the bridge is the second most popular suicide bridge in the world (Yangtze River Bridge in China is number one apparently). In 1995 a local radio disc jockey offered a case of beer to the family of the 1000th jumper! Bad taste eh, but with over 1600 victims there are now nets and safety barriers all over it.
Ever seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? The snowy jump scene with James Stewart was filmed on the Golden Gate. I love that film, definitely in my Top Five Christmas Films.
The boat trip was fabulous with a commentary, if you wanted, informing you all about the history of San Francisco bay and the bridge. Plus I seriously enjoyed the constant positional battles with various other tourists. A real challenge that I faced head on and confidently triumphed in.
Great cruise around the bay and we even got to see all around Alcatraz Island from slightly different views. Excellent trip. All that was left after that was for us to head on up to Pier 39 for some typical All American lunch. We’d seen the Wipeout Bar and Grill a few days previous and enjoyed a classic meal of burger, chips and beer. Can you get any healthier? The Wipeout Burger made an impressive entry into my Top Five Burgers list too. Isn’t that exciting?
I nearly lost my little blonde partner on the way out though as her head was turned by some tanned, muscly six-pack surfer guy. She even demanded I took a photo as the two of them smooched. So jealous.
What a week we had. Some places that you visit are interesting and fun and some are quaint and full of character, San Francisco had it all as far as we were concerned. We loved the atmosphere and could easily have stayed on for another week. There is just so much to see and do and I’m sure we only scratched the surface. We couldn’t stay any longer though as we had an adventure booked the following day!
The California Zephyr
Travelling is about new experiences and trying things that you haven’t tried before and with all that in mind we’d booked a ticket on the Amtrak train called The California Zephyr. Sunday morning at 9.30am we were due at Emeryville station near Oakland to begin our next little trip. I’ll tell you all about it next time so please don’t go away.
29.4 – 30.4.2016