… be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
This is the beginning of Scott McKenzie’s song published in 1967 and in which he witnesses his love for “the City by the Bay”. Like many others, he fell in love with the city which has experienced a boom due to the Gold Rush in 1948. Since then, San Francisco has looked back on a rich history and despite the memory of the earthquake of 1906, its history has turned the city into a symbol of the eternal summer of love and of freedom. In August, I got the possibility to feel this summer of love for a weekend and to let myself be fascinated by it. And now, three months later, there is my declaration of love to San Francisco.
Hello San Francisco!
My travel group organized by Expedition America arrived at the beautiful Serrano Hotel close to Union Square towards evening and we were directly welcomed by the fog that is typical for the city. In the mornings and evenings, it enters the city and ensures cooler temperatures, wherefore it is also referred to as San Francisco’s natural air conditioning. But the cool, humid air could not stop us from discovering Union Square and from casting a glance at the famous Cable Cars.
Fog and Clouds
After getting a first impression of the city we went to see the splendid city hall the next day. But it was still covered in morning fog as it was the same with our next stop Twin Peaks, which was even more extremely covered in fog so that we cold not enjoy the actually fascinating 360°-view over the city. However, I was abe to take a couple of impressive photos of the fog phenomenon.
As a compensation for the view we had missed we got the chance to marvel the city from the tower of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. And we were not promised too much for the observation platform does not only offer an all-around view but also provides a lot of information about what you get to see. Moreover, we were glad to see that the morning fog was slowly withdrawing to the sea again.
Peace & Love!
Our next stop was Height & Ashbury, a district still exuding the atmosphere of bygone hippie movements and in which the idea of freedom is still vibrant today. The streets are lined by a number of alternative shops and little boutiques of all sorts; everything from gaudy fashion to bizarre antiques and spiritual treasures from distant places is represented. But what fascinated me the most were the colorful houses. The Victorian buildings being typical for San Francisco are lovingly decorated so that none is alike. The diverse street art is perceived as the crowning of the district and it can be found on every corner.
Golden Gate Bridge & Fisherman’s Wharf
From the fun-loving Height & Ashbury having had us traveling back to bygone days we finally went on the the sight that is probably unsurpassed in San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge, which has been the Bay Area’s landmark since it inauguration in 1937. We drove across the bridge to get to one of the most popular viewpoints and realized how impressive the bridge actually is. Reaching the viewpoint we were welcomed by busses, cars and quite a number of tourists trying to take the perfect photo. Thus, it was not that easy to find a wall segment in front of which nobody was posing with the iconic landmark in the background. But with some patience this was finally possible. Just like the other tourists we were driven by the desire of the one photo so that after a while I had to force myself to turn off the camera in order to enjoy the scenery. And it was not minute too soon. As it was already late afternoon, we could watch the fog coming from the sea and partly covering the Golden Gate Bridge to slowly settle over the Bay Area. This drew our attention to the panoramic view we were offered. In the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge it is also the view of downtown, the islands and the entire Bay Area which derves a lot of attention.
After driving back to downtown we got to know the maritime San Francisco. In the waterfront area called Fisherman’s Wharf we first strolled around the market ofering the best fish and seafood in the city. Afterwards, we enjoyed the mild sea breeze during a walk on the promande and after a couple of minutes we reached the Pier 39. The pier is quite touristic and full of shops and restaurants but its actual highlight re the sealions living there and basking in the sun. We took some time to observe them before we stopped to have a look at the famous former prison island Alcatraz on our way back.
As the last highlight of our time in San Francisco, my friends and me decided not to call a taxi to go back to our hotel but instead we dared a ride on the Cable Car. Paying 7$ you get a ticket and you can line up in the queue, which unfortunately is always very long, so that we had to wait for one and a half hours. Travelers possessing a city map can also look for the next stop of the Cable Car and get on the vehicle there. So they can avoid the long waiting but they can still experience the entire ride. When our Cable Car finally set off we alle agreed that it was absolutely worth to line up. Because of the steep streets, the ride was more rapid than we had thought and it was great fun to admire the streets while steadily riding up and down. The ride is therefore a good opprtunity to discover even more of the city.