Day 19 (June 24, 2008) San Francisco


   There is not a fixed plan for San Francisco visits, but a list of highlights we want to explore during the two days and a half we’re going to be there.

  San Francisco map

   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.

Palace of Fine Arts of San Francisco   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 Exploratorium.

   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.

Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz IslandEgret in the park

   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.

Painted facades in San FranciscoTram F in San Francisco

   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.

Pier 39San Francisco trams

   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.

Chinatown in San FranciscoChinese food on display

   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.

Painted house in ChinatownChinatown's street

   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! Union Square

Chinatown's Gate in San Francisco

   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 America.

   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:

San Francisco's street