Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Streets of...

I'm back from San Francisco. I loved it. England seems very cold and flat in comparision.

I wondered if there were would be enough for us to do over a week but it really wasn't long enough and despite a packed schedule, I'm sure there is so much we didn't manage to do and I'd definitely go back - tomorrow if I didn't have to work!

As it was our first visit, we did a lot of tourist sites, which has resulted in the obligatory cliched photographs:

Cable Car turning around
My new favourite mode of transport. Yes, its expensive, slow and chilly, but I loved it.

Lombard Street
Really who thought it would be a good idea to build a city where there were so many hills? My feet still haven't recovered.

I feared it would be tacky but it wasn't. It was fascinating. As its now a national park, they were keen to stress that there was more to the island than the infamous prison, but that is still what most people wanted to know about.

City Lights Book Store
The shop associated with The Beats. We stopped by and bought a few books, despite the OH's mutterings that Jack Kerouac was the most over-rated writer ever.

Haight Ashbury Sign
It had to be done, even though the old Sixties hangout is dominated by shops selling tat.

Coit Tower
An exhausting walk uphill and up stairs to reach the tower, which apparently gave the best views in the city. But with so many high points, the view weren't really that much better than from anywhere else and after the Alcatraz boat, I felt like the tower was swaying. so we didn't stay up there for long.

The Bay Bridge at Night
The less famous of the city's bridges, it apparently won't withstand another earthquake.

Wine Country
I don't normally like the countryside but even I loved it here. Unfortunately we couldn't really bring back any wine but I did sample plenty and lots of gorgeous food too.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Regular readers may recall that I don't like bridges. I made it a little way across this one before I thought I was going to vomit. The fact that there had been a ten car smash up the day before didn't help. It really would be a good idea for them to put something in between the two directions of traffic.

And some perhaps more unusual pictures:

A Man with a Basketball for a Head
We went to watch the Golden State Warriors play Houston. This was my third basketball game and I really enjoyed it this time.

A Giraffe
Not native to California - we went to the zoo! The OH said that the giraffes reminded him of me. I'm taking that as a compliment.

Giant Broccoli
A plant in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It looked just like my favourite vegetable.

The Jefferson Airplane section of a secondhand record shop
My favourite 1960s San Francisco band. We'll gloss over what they went on to become.

Warning Sign
Good advice found on the wall of Vesuvio bar.

The only bad thing that I saw (apart from those gradients!) was that the city seems to have a terrible problem with homeless people. Living in London, I thought was used to seeing people begging, but I've not seen anything on this scale before. It was really very sad and I wondered why all of these people had come to be in that situation and if it was similar across over US cities.

As the old song goes, I did misplace my heart there but I think my body clock is still somewhere over the Atlantic as I'm keeping very strange hours. At 4am this morning I watched the end of a Discovery channel documentary about the 1906 earthquake in SF which ended with a very grim warning for the future. So I'm glad I went when I did and that I didn't see the documentary before.


Mellifluous Dark said...

Welcome back! Great photos – I especially like the 'beware loose women' and the giant broccoli. Giraffes are great – elegant, intelligent and good-looking, so I'd definitely take that as a compliment.

M said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip.

For the record, other US cities are NOT like that in terms of the homeless. SF is a haven for them. I think the city encourages it there. Even I was shocked at how many there were when I visited the city last Sept/Oct timeframe (I even blogged about it). I had to step over them daily as I walked to work. Disgusting.

Glad you made it to the wine country. The food is fabulous out there!

SandDancer said...

MD - I'm not any of those things, but apparently I am docile like a giraffe.

M - it was very strange with the begging - I didn't ever feel threatened by them and they weren't particularly persistent, but there were just so many of them everywhere and I didn't remember seeing much of it in New York. I don't understand how the city can be encouraging it though - if they looked after the homeless better than other places, surely they wouldn't need to be on the pavement begging?

M said...

Perhaps 'encourage' is too strong a word. SF is a 'tolerant' city where politicians who have tried to clear the streets of them have been labelled as callous and booted from office over it.

I'm not sure SF has more homeless people than NYC, but for its size, it has an overabundance of them, and the city spends at least $100M a year of taxpayer resources on the issue. Still, they sit and beg. It must work for them.

Anonymous said...

Welcome home! Glad you had a great time - it certainly sounds and looks like you did! and fabulous photos too

Ing said...

Great pics and great stories! SF is certainly one city I'd love to return to...

Roses said...

Welcome back traveller. We missed you and I love the pickies.

I wouldn't have described giraffes as docile. They are very protective of their young and have been known to kill lions. (They also have a tongue that is a foot and a half long...*insert smutty comment here*)

Oops lowered the tone. Sorry. Please let me back?

M said...

To give you even more of a flavor of 'liberal/progressive' San was announced today that they are spending almost $100K on advertising campaigns to let illegal aliens (undocumented workers who have entered the US illegally) know that they are welcomed there. SF is a "sanctuary city" which proudly states that they will not cooperate with US immigration authorities to help identify illegals (even if they commit a crime) and that they will use taxpayer dollars openly to offer them free medical care, education, etc.

They have similar attitudes towards the homeless, which is why you see so many in the streets there. You won't find it like that in most other US cities.