19 (June 24, 2008) San Francisco
There is not a fixed plan for San Francisco visits, but a
highlights we want to explore during the two days and a half we’re
going to be there.
The spots marked at map are:
0- Hotel Castle Inn
1- Pier 39 in Fisherman's Wharf
2- Alcatraz Island
3- Jardín japonés en Golden Gate Park
4- Golden Gate Bridge
5- Marina (with potentially good views of Golden Gate Bridge)
6- Powell Station (starting and ending point of the touristic tram)
7- Twin Peaks (a hill with great views of the city and the bay)
But if something is clear for this day is we must
take 9:45 PM flight to New York.
We take our breakfast and check out with no rush. We leave
the baggage at hotel explaining our flight is this evening and we’re
offered a limo transfer to airport by 50$. We accept and schedule to be
picked up at 7:30 PM, then go out for our last day in San Francisco. It
will be the first – and unique – day with no car in California, but
we’ve already got the ticket for using any tram or bus of the city all
the times we want, purchased yesterday.
Our thought is reaching Marina area, where we’re expecting nice views
of Golden Gate Bridge. Following the map above, which is the one we
have for checking tram and bus routes, we must take bus 47 to
Fisherman’s Wharf and then 30 to the Palace of Fine Arts and
And we do that, just waiting for a bit in Pier 39 – where I
think we will come back for lunching today – to 30 and take it.
We leave the bus in a lonely street and we just
follow the signs to Palace of Fine Arts to reach it. The Palace looks
magnificent across a beautiful lake full of water birds in a park where
a lot of young people are in a picnic over the grass. We walk to the
coast, through a park with trees.
And here it is: Golden Gate seen from one side is
spectacular. It’s further than I expected but we can see it well and
completely. It is at our left; at our right we have good views of
Alcatraz Island as well.
It is cold and the breeze from the sea is not
welcomed. After a while enjoying the views we come back looking for the
bus 30 stop in the way back to Pier 39. We take a while locating it and
can see the typical painted facades of this city in the meantime. When
we leave the bus we still have a long walk to Pier 39, so we take
advantage of our unlimited ticket and wait for tram F on the stop
working as end and start of its route. These trams are different from
the classic ones. They’re old and we can read they’re coming from Milan
(Manufactured in there, obviously its route it's not that long :)).
A short ride takes us to the beginning of the
pier. It’s almost lunch time and we are in the right place, so
everything is good. We’ve just made a single visit this morning and
this makes us see the difference between visiting this city by public
transport and by driving a car when talking about time.
Pier is full of live, as always. We choose a buffet place to
lunch, with pasta and pizza: North Beach Pizza. The quality is low, but
the bill is low too: 43.78$ all three.
Yesterday we focused on the sea views but today we can check
the views from the city are great too. We make some pictures posing
with Coit and Transamerican towers behind.
It’s the first time we don’t have a plan for a
visit, all plans in California are done now, so we say good bye to Pier
39 and take tram F just because it was stopping and leave the tram
randomly too inside the city. When we are walking for two blocks it
seems we’ve started a tour by Chinatown and it is perfect for us.
This is not a Chinese neighborhood but a piece of
Beijing set in the middle of the city. There is no mix of cultures or
globalization, everything is Chinese: people, shops, decoration in the
streets,… The pictures can show this.
We’re surrounded by lacquered ducks and any kind of Chines shops.
We get into a bazaar where the merchandise is filling up every corner
that much that I think you couldn’t put anything else on it, no matter
how small it would be. I purchase a Vegeta and A-19 action figures with
two dragon balls. Probably you won’t know what I’m talking about. It
doesn’t matter, the point is price is 0.5$ and I think the only the
plastic they’re made of must cost more than this.
We take Grant Street at the moment we see we’re here because it
is a big avenue and map says it will take us to Union Square. I still
haven’t told to anybody but I have a wish for this city: visiting
Levi’s store. I think we cannot leave San Francisco without bringing a
Levi’s jeans with us.
Every sign is written in Chinese characters and we can only read the street names.
When we reach California Street we can see more live in the streets.
The classic cable car goes through this street and, as it is a big
slope from here I wait for the car to appear for a great picture.
Somehow, 15 minutes later, women go to explore the shops while I’m
still waiting for my picture. While time goes by I’m thinking I’m being
dumb now, but I cannot leave as I’m sure at the very moment I abandon
my place the cable car will show up making me feel even dumber. Women
end their shopping and I’m still here. What can I do? I finally leave
with the picture of the street with no cable car on it. A funny way of
wasting 40 minutes!
Two blocks down – because now we’re walking down- we meet
Chinatown’s Gate, where officially begins – or ends - the “town” . Just
after this gate the shops change completely of design: we’re back in
We’re close to Union Square, it is a commercial area and you can say
that. A skyscraper has its façade completely covered by a picture of
David Beckham on underwear. Fortunately we’re not going to there. We
find Levi’s store and get into it. It is like a big tube with round
floors with a big hole in the middle. We go up until men’s floor and I
purchase my jeans by 30€.
We’re spending our last
minutes in California as we’re coming back to the hotel where a limo is
waiting for us, although it is a great Mercedes car rather than a limo.
Once in flight and before trying to sleep I download the pictures of
this day to the laptop. This travel is reaching the end and the time to
come back to home is just there, but still one great visit for
tomorrow: Niagara Falls.
Among the downloaded
photos, which we’re watching as something belonging to the past, we
like the ones about cable cars, the icon of San Francisco: