Monday, 11 October 2010
The (Steep) Streets of San Francisco
Today has been a much gentler and more relaxed day but no less exciting and informative. Sunday morning started with a cafe breakfast in Columbus Street, San Francisco, a great tradition of which I fully approve followed by a guided three hour bus tour of the city on a bus. As a matter of interest, there are many red English right hand drive buses here, some with the roofs taken off to provide open top facilities for tourists.
British town and country planners would have a heart attack looking at the houses here, they're all different. They are packed close together (with an inch space between them to act as a firewall) and very few have any gardens at all in some districts, their front door is on the street. Quaint could describe some, down beat could be said of others.
We saw the steep streets of San Francisco where famous films show cars taking off as they speed over the bumps, (Steve McQueen in Bullet is just one) and locations of many other films. The Golden Gate Bridge isn't golden it's actually 'international orange,' but what some of us would call 'rust red.' The trouble is we didn't see it today, it was shrouded in a typical fog that this city sees most days. Indeed from our vantage point at the top of Twin Peaks, overlooking the city, you could see the extent of the fog mixing the cold sea air with the warm air of the land. In some districts, the summer months of June, July and august are under a permanent blanket of grey.
We had seafood lunch - Dungeness crab, a San Fran speciality on the Wharf next to the sidewalk and witnessed dozens of huge motorcycles arrive of all shapes and sizes, all polished, glinting in the sun, some home made and others adapted to make them unique.
There were celebrations today and roads were closed off because of the marches taking place, but we managed to see the beautiful and extensive San Francisco Golden Gate Park (designed and built by a Scotsman by the way) and some of the new museums and galleries that have been built post 1989 earthquake. The afternoon entertainment on the Wharf continued with tens of thousands of people packing the place out. All the shops were open and there were bands, Fleetweek displays music aplenty and we saw the seals on Pier 39.
Our last day tomorrow but nothing planned as yet, other than a nice meal at a restaurant that was recommended on Hyde Street (thanks Emma) - we'll see how it goes.