San Francisco...a city where sea
lions have taken over the wharf, where you eat the bowl your soup comes in, where the public transport is hauled up the hills on cables, where you can find Jesus in the footpath, whole dried fish in the streets, bath salts in barrels and 6 postcards for $1 but stamps $1.25 each.
Where in one day you can see a bloke wearing a huge, leashed lizard on his shoulder , lots of old people doing laps in the freezing cold water of the mid-city harbour and a fellow parading as a tree to scare the tourists. Where the next day you can see a million Japanese tourists, a million American tourists, a million bike riding tourists and a whole lot of people throwing cream pies at each other. And then the next day see the lizard guy again!!
San Francisco is an amazing city. Dave and I arrived to a windy, wet city late one afternoon and made our way to Oakland, our place to stay. Kara had found out about the website through another San Franciscan contact and very kindly offered the apartment under her house for us to stay in. Since then Kara and Eric and their two kids Chloe and Bodie have entertained us with stories and dancing (3 year old Chloe did this part) and lent us lots of books so that we can see the best that San Francisco has to offer. So far, I think, we haven’t let them down - nor has San Francisco failed to provide an amazing variety of activities and adventures.
In San Francisco the sea gulls are enormous (the extra fries maybe?) and the sea lions are allowed to hang out on some specially set aside jetties in the main tourist drag. These sea lions moved in to Pier 39’s K-Dock just after the earthquake in 1989, and officially took over the docks in 1990. First there were only 10 sea lions...then 50...then, due
California seems to be very keen on the clean, green, healthy image - a lot of the businesses boast about being ‘zero-emission’, ‘powered by bio-diesel’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ and the food joints boast about their lack of trans-fats, msg and lard. There’s a massive supermarket down the road that sells only organic food (at exorbitant prices) and the buses are all hybrid electric. There’s still a very large number of Starbucks (and similar) selling sit down coffee in disposable cups but we felt proud to partake in a clam chowder that came in an edible bowl made of sourdough bread, thus reducing our carbon footprint. This is a tradition in San Francisco and just had to be done - and the edible bowl meant that even Dave, who is to food-eating what the stretch-Hummer is to gas-guzzling, was able to fill up nicely. We’ve actually seen a stretch-Hummer so I’m not making that up, it really does exist!
To walk off our clam chowder and sourdough bread, we decided to walk up a massive hill and then walk down Lombard Street, the crookedest street. We then walked up another massive hill to the Coit tower, which was built and named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a quirky San Francisco legend who attached herself to the volunteer fire department and wore men’s clothing so that she could visit the gambling establishments in town. Perhaps she deserves a profile on GO! Girls Outdoors? She must have done well because she provided the money that built the lovely Coit Tower on the top of Telegraph Hilll, from which you can see the whole city including all the bridges, the Marin County headland and the Pacific Ocean.
San Francisco is extremely multicultural and there’s an amazing variety of places to see, all within a few blocks of one another. You can choose between American, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, African and Italian as you walk through the city. I’ve felt quite out of place being white on the buses in the less touristy areas of town, and especially out of place being tall and white in some of the back alleys of Chinatown! We’ve seen the touristy harbour part of the city, the green spaces and parks, the Italian, Chinese and Japanese parts of town, the industrial/warehouse neighbourhoods, the hippy/funky/retro/groovy streets, the very upmarket shopping areas and the gleaming high rises of the financial district. You can get everywhere on public transport without waiting longer than a few minutes, and you could entertain yourself in the city for many, many days.
Which we will do to the best of our abilities...tune in again soon for more...