The second full day of our time San Francisco and one thing is different, we’ve woken up to brilliant sunshine! Having been here for a couple of days it’s amazing to watch the weather develop and see the clouds roll in across the bay. Anyway, it looks like we have struck lucky and there’s sunny weather to enable a few decent photo opportunities.
If you’re on any sort of city tour you will inevitably cover quite a few km during your stay and a decent portion of those will be on foot. We’re on the second day of our big bus tour and although that means we can cover stretches on the bus we’re inevitably walking big chunks to see all the things we want to see. Although we’ve used commercial bus tours before, the tour in SF does not seem to work too well as there are big gaps (meaning long waits) between buses and although SF people generally seem friendly, this is not the case with our bus drivers who are a rather grumpy and rude bunch. Will be showing up in my TripAdvisor review.
We start the day with a short walk to Union Square where we’re aiming for our first stop of the day, Lombard Street. Much like any major tourist attraction Lombard Street is fairly well served with tourists’ both on foot and in their cars. There are plenty of very steep roads in San Francisco so why this one, in particular, has become so popular is not easy to understand (other than some nice hedges framing a crooked road). Nevertheless, it’s interesting enough street and probably worth a visit, although because it’s ‘just a street’ your visit will likely be very short indeed.
We’re following that with a trip to Chinatown, really a must see in SF as it’s like a city within a city. There is a lot of tat to buy mixed amongst the ‘authentic ‘Chinese souvenirs. While you’re here you should almost certainly take advantage either of some tea (bubble tea in our case – look it up!) or have some lunch (which we also did). Good, authentic Chinese food which is reasonably cheap although they add their own choice of tip onto the bill (!).
After having spent a couple of hours in Chinatown we took a shortish walk to Coit Tower one of the ‘named’ sights in the area and well worth a visit for the panoramic views over the city. A word of warning, it might be a short walk from Chinatown but it is certainly not flat. You may even find yourself chuckling at how ridiculously steep the streets are, that’s if you can actually catch your breath to chuckle. Ride to the top of the tower for $8 and you will enjoy some of the best panoramic views of the city (but you need the good weather to get the best out of it). Well worth it in my view.
Golden Gate Park
So far we’re closing in on around 8km of walking for the day (remembering we’ve also spent a lot of time on the bus) but in the interests of not missing anything we jump back on the bus for a trip across the other side of town and a quick look around Golden Gate Park which we passed through yesterday on our way to the GG bridge but had not spent any time in. In contrast to the rest of the city, the park seems well kept and there are all sorts of activities going on (not all of which seem entirely legal!). On the way to the park our bus driver regales us with stories of the founding of the hippy community in SF, the summer of love, and various aging or dead rock stars (Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix to name but two), it must have been some time and Haight street on the way to the park still seem to embody that spirit.
We’re intrigued to visit the Bison enclosure which is deep into the park and after taking our walk total for the day to over 10 km we’re greeted not by a herd of rampaging bison but rather by a couple of distant animals grazing serenely. My advice – give the Bison a miss but make time for the park. Oh and one interesting tidbit – SF has a lot of runners and fashion for the male runner seem to be to go topless, we also say one committed athlete running in his speedos. One can only wonder what he has been smoking.