Growing up, I never even really contemplated leaving the East Coast. I’d been to Maine and Florida and everywhere in between on the coast, but never traveled farther west than Pennsylvania. When one of my cousins got married in Las Vegas I started getting really excited about traveling farther. But I still never thought I’d see a place like California. San Francisco was a wonderful introduction to the West Coast.
From the Hello America Blog, circa 2009
“Deciding to stay a full day in San Francisco was a good decision. We started our day with a walk up the steepest hill that one can drive up I’ve ever seen in my life (I like to say it’s another World’s Largest even if it might not be). Discussing it later, we think that it must be at least a 45 degree angle, it’s ridiculous and very hard to capture in a photograph though we certainly tried. Next we encountered the Crookedest Street (I also like to consider this a World’s .. in this case Crookedest Street) which was windy with hedges around the curves and brick laid. Very beautiful and also very steep.
We continued our journey towards Pier 39 which is like a cross between Savannah’s waterfront and the New Jersey boardwalk. A lot of touristy shops, some art galleries and a ton of restaurants start off your journey down the road. Once you hit the piers there is also a slew of museums (Ripley’s, a wax museum and i believe more intellectual ones as well) and I think an aquarium though I didn’t see the entrance anywhere.
From there is a boardwalk type path that runs towards the water with more shopping, restaurants and entertainment including a carousel. One of the coolest things, though, was the sea lions. Apparently sea lions just started showing up and now camp out on rafts in the bay by the boats. We saw several of them fighting over a certain spot and there was a lot of sun bathing going on as well.
But, the thing that beats out the sea lions has to be the Musee Mecanique. We discovered this completely by accident and ended up spending at least 30 minutes inside, maybe more. It’s a warehouse FULL of original working mechanical attractions like fortune tellers and video games. From the 1800’s through now – everything was represented but the pure scope of seeing all those early 20th century coin operated mechanicals was so so cool. And what was cooler is that they all worked. You could put in a quarter and see “what the belly dancer does on her day off” or an English Execution with puppets or a Barber Shop Quartet with puppets. There were some of the creepiest puppets I’d ever seen in these machines. We even found an old photo booth and now have a set of 4 black and white photos of us 1930’s style. So so cool.
After a brief return to the hotel we drove to Golden Gate Park and from there a new adventure started. Golden Gate Park is harder to navigate than Central Park in my opinion. It has a lot more major roads that run through it and everything is guarded closely by a wall of plant life that you can’t see past. It makes it hard to see where you are and where you are going. There are also a strange lack of street signs, though street names are carved into the sidewalk. Other than that the park was pretty and there were some interesting flowers (some of which ended up in my hair, because we sort of had to, this being San Francisco and all). There were also bizarre crooked palm trees that sort of fascinated us.
From the park we walked up Haight street to the famous cross-street of Ashbury. I imagined Haight Ashbury to be more musical, I guess, more creative considering it’s history as a center for hippies and music in the 1960’s, but I saw a scant 2 guitarist panhandlers and the street was pretty sketchy to walk down. A lot of panhandlers, some more brazen than others, a lot of people too. Some shops looked
interesting, but by that point it was getting late and the area was kind of getting to me. I took a photo of the street signs, but I’m not sure if it came out very well. The sky was very white and there were people in my way sort of. Either way, I went and I can say I’ve been, but I wish that the area had stayed creative and not become so sad.
On our way back into the park a youngish guy asked us if we wanted any herbals, at which point I realized the experience was complete.
We walked back through the park, retrieved the car and headed back to the hotel. Another short break later we were out and about in search of dinner back on Pier 39. A final stop at Ghiradelli’s for an amazing chocolate chip cookie sunday completed a long but amazing day.
We did a lot of hiking up and down a lot of hills. You can’t go anywhere in SF without going up or down a hill and it’s going to be extreme either way. My feet sort of hurt and I think I got a small tan if not sunburn, which I wasn’t expecting until Vegas. Guess we’ll have to invest in some suntan lotion soon” – Lindsey: April 14, 2009
Looking back as I read this and sort photos, I’m seeing a lot of images, like the two above, that I never did anything with. I may have to take some time this Summer to sort through old photographs and find new gems!
Have you been to San Francisco? Did you wear flowers in your hair? What did you like best about that adventure?