Tuesday, February 7, 2012

California - San Francisco

I really enjoyed visiting and working in San Francisco for a few days.  On a free day, I took a Gray Line Bus tour of the city that included Alcatraz.  It was a great tour showing me the basics of San Francisco.  Because it’s such a big city, I’d suggest finding a similar tour to see everything and make the most of your time.  You can always go back and spend extra time at the sites you really enjoyed if you have more time.

You should start at the Golden Gate Bridge - http://goldengatebridge.org/visitors/whattodo.php.  It’s what people think of when they think of San Francisco!  You should check out the gift shop in the Round House on the south end of the bridge.  Also, you should try to walk across the bridge because it’s got a great view of everything from there and you get to say you’ve walked on the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge
Next, make a stop at the Fisherman’s Wharf area (including Pier 39) (http://fishermanswharf.org/).  Be sure to check out the seals!  You’ll probably hear them first.  They are there year-round.  It’s also neat to see the fresh seafood that came in that morning.  This area has great shopping and restaurants too.

You want REAL Chinese food?  Visit the San Francisco Chinatown (http://www.sanfranciscochinatown.com/).  It’s the biggest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia!  It is much bigger than the one in DC.

Alamo Square Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Square,_San_Francisco) – you’ve probably seen it and didn’t know it.  It’s shown during the introduction to the 80s show Full House – remember seeing the row of townhomes with the city skyline in the back?  Those townhomes are called the seven sisters.  The park has a great view of the city skyline.
Alamo Square Park
Twin Peaks also has a great view of the skyline - http://www.sftravel.com/twinpeakssanfrancisco.html - though there is a very winding road to get up there.

I think Lombard Street is an amazing feat of engineering.  It’s considered the most crooked street in America.  http://www.sftravel.com/lomabardcrookedstreet.html.  Thankfully, the tour bus just stopped at the bottom of the street for us to see it and didn’t attempt to drive down the street.
Lombard St. Picture found online.
Another pretty place that I saw on the bus tour was the Golden Gate Park - http://www.golden-gate-park.com/.  This area is very pretty and if you have extra time, it might be good to go back and see the wonderful details of the park.

At the end of the tour, we boarded a boat to Alcatraz - http://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm.  The boat trip was great because it sails underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.  Alcatraz is an island in the San Francisco Bay that had a real prison that was shown in the movie – The Rock.  I got the audio tour headset once arriving on the island and it told me stories of the prisoners as I walked around on the grounds.  I liked that I could take my time on the tour and pause it whenever.  From the island, you’ll have a great view of the city, the bay, the bridge, and the surrounding areas.
One side of Alcatraz.
The other side of Alcatraz.
Inside the prison.  Alot had the headsets on.

San Franciso Skyline from Alcatraz.  Picture taken by a fellow Alcatraz tourist, Will.
I spent another day with my college friend Tim, who moved out there after graduation.  I took the San Francisco subway, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (http://bart.gov/) out to the suburbs where Tim lives.  The BART was confusing, and wasn’t heavily used, but it was cheap and I didn’t have to drive out there.  Tim showed me around the eastern and northern suburbs.  We visited the town of Sausalito (http://www.sausalito.org/) – such a quaint little town to walk around in. 


From there, we went to Conzelman Rd., a one-way road up a hill (north of the Golden Gate Bridge).  You’ll come back down the hill on Fort Barry and Simmonds Rd.  Tim took this picture of me when we stopped going up the hill and I swear I would think I photo shopped me into the picture if I wasn’t there.  It’s really high up.  Check it out!

Photo taken by Tim on Conzelman Rd.
The one regret I have with my San Francisco visit was that I didn’t ride on a cable car!  SHOCKER!  So, please don’t be like me and not ride one.  You’ve got to do it.  http://sfcablecar.com/.

These are just a few of the things I did in San Francisco.  Because California is huge, it will take a few posts this week so come back soon as we discover what’s just round the corner in California!  If you know of anywhere else in the San Francisco area we should check out, please leave a comment below.

**Pictures taken by me unless otherwise noted**

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