Five days in the Bay
San Francisco Travel Blog› entry 22 of 23 › view all entries
So after cutting my Jamaican experience short due to the worries for my safety I caught a taxi to the Montego Bay airport, flew to Miami and had too scoot through to my connecting flight to San Francisco. It all seemed way too frantic over the past two days and if I'd have had more time to think about it I would have wondered how my time chillin' at the Blue Harbour had gone to rushing for flights so quickly. I guess that's the thrill of travel.
Anyway, I made it to the San Fran flight in time. I shouldn't have worried because the airline must have known I was going to get there in time or they wouldn't call it a connecting flight but the idea of getting from one side of the Miami Airport to the other by monorail just seemed wrong to me.
I had decided to stay in the Downtown Youth Hostel and from the airport got the bus into the city center.
At the bus station I was immediately approached by several beggars. That was something I found very odd in San Fran. It seems pan-handling is just a lifestyle choice for many of the guys hanging around on the streets.
I got into a bit of a discussion with one of the men that approached me for money. He introduced himself as a famous American Footballer (which of course meant nothing at all to me) and had a hard luck story about his bags being stolen.
He asked for money to get home and said he'd been stuck there for a few days now and was worried about his family. He told me it was very embarrassing to go from being a million dollar sportsman to have to resort to asking for change.
I suggested that he might go and find a job for a week. I was sure if he was as famous as he was saying any bar or cafe in the city would love to have him there for a time and he'd quickly earn the fare home to his family he was after.
He came up with some lame excuse for not doing that so I told him that he was targeting the wrong crowd if he was looking to get money off back-packers. Backpackers typically travel with a tight budget and in my own experience I have been around the whole world on a shoe-string, carrying everything I own and need on my back.
I wished him all the best and suggested he work on a better tale. I cut out of there and walked the couple of blocks to the hostel.
The hostel was pretty cool as far as location goes. The other YHA is down bay the water but I was happy to be here.
I decided I would walk to a different part of the city each day. Being nestled in the bay San Fran is reasonably compact.
The first afternoon a had a bit of a wander about the city center and explored JapanTown.
I met a few others at the hostel that night and we wandered down the road to catch "The Crow II" on the big screen.
Next day I went down to see about getting across to Alcatraz. I had read about the need to book 4 days in advance so I wanted to check it out. The season was pumping and the 4 days had turned to 5 days. I had already purchased my ticket to Los Angeles so Alcatraz was someting I was just going to have to come back to the city to do.
I continued my walk around the bay area and went into the US Pampanito. Strangely enoughI had just seen this submarine on one of my flights. Down Periscope was a recent release and this vessle was the star.
Being down by the water I was amazed by the thick fog hanging in the bay. For the whole time I was in the city it hung there morning and afternoon with just a short interlude at midday where you could see across to the opposite shore.
As part of my exploration I visited the display put together of the destruction of San Francisco by earthquakes. It's pretty amazing that the place keeps being destroyed and they just keep rebuiding it but after just two days here I became aware of it's allure. San Fran is a great city, with a real funky feel to it.
Next day I headed up to Haight Ashbury and tried to find any stoned hippys that may still have been tuned out or turned on...
I found a very cool second hand record store -my kind of heaven in any city round the world. I had posted a very big bag home from the UK when I left there. It was heavy with books and music and I had decided not to buy any more CDs -yeah right! No way have I ever been able to visit a music store without finding 1/2 dozen gems.
After having a good look around that suburb I headed back to the center. With all these nice new discs I had to listen to them which meant I had to buy a player. I found a street that had a few stores and moved up and down to find a cheap discman that would work here and on my motorbike when I returned to NZ.
I also had a good look around the city, enjoyed the coffee and visited the Cartoon Museum which coincidentally was featuring my favourite cartoonist, Charles Schultz. I'm a big Charlie Brown fan!
That night my friends from the hostel and I hit a local bar and listened to some very funky live music.
The next day I set out for the Golden Gate. I wanted to explore the area around there as I'd read it had fabulous Archetecture and then there is the huge area occupied by the army when they were based up there.
I walked a long way that day. Enjoyed the sights and the feeling of the area. The disused army camp was an exciting find. I hadn't expected to be able to gain access, and I don't even know if I should have been in there.
I wandered around the ruins and over the abandoned gun emplacements and enjoyed all the thrills that a boy might enjoy in a spot like that. I then wandered down the hill and walked across the Golden Gate bridge and back.
When I got back to the other side I hit the wall and decided that I really couldn't face the hike back downtown. I jumped on the next bus heading that way but got off half way back. I had enjoyed the nice rest and had seen a bit of the city through the bus window but I wandered back into the center as the shop keepers were starting to close up and the Pan-handlers were hitting the streets.
That night I went with my friends to look around ChinaTown. We found a great place to eat and enjoyed the evening.
Next day was my last. I stayed close to the city and saw a few things I hadn't seen previously before I had to be at the bus station for the ride to Los Angeles.
I think I'll be back in San Fran one day. It's one of the best cities I've visited and although I had a good look around I'm sure there's much I have yet to see there.