San Francisco….Alcatraz, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Nob Hill, Candlestick Park, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf. So much to do – we actually experienced most of this (and more) with a couple of glaring exceptions.
First of all, are we the only people who didn’t know that Candlestick Park had been demolished? When we reserved our spot at Candlestick RV Park, we had visions of watching pink sunsets on the iconic ballpark, perhaps hearing the ghostly voices of Willie Mays or Juan Marichal chuckling at stories of great times in the Good Old Days. Such a shock to find that the park no longer exists – it’s a huge excavation site soon to be decorated with luxury apartments. Did you know that the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3500/month? How can this be?
We chose this RV Park because it’s close to a metro line for transportation, and within cycling distance of the city and all the things we wanted to see. Good thing, because for our $100 a night, we sure didn’t get any ambiance! We are packed in here like bikes in Amsterdam. (Google photo).
See us wedged in there?
You can probably see San Francisco from a double-decker tour bus or car (god forbid), but pedal power plus sandal power really is the way to go. With a few notable disagreements about where and how far to go, we explored the City. Many places, especially on the weekend were packed – teeming with tourists. Cars and people are crowding the bike lanes, bikes are on the sidewalks, strollers and skateboards are everywhere – it’s chaos. Waiting time to see the murals at Coit Tower >one hour. No thank you. So, we looked at the outsides of places.Had to chuckle at these Asian tourists trying to figure out the pay toilets.Chinatown is a feast for a camerahound.Monday was a problem. We decided to split up for the day, because we just couldn’t agree on where and how to get there. John got off the trail near the Pier, intending to go to Alcatraz. Ha! Booked until March 31. My goal was Golden Gate Park, so I stayed on the train for several more stops, and got off to wander. City Hall – home of many famous weddings (Marilyn Monroe/Joe DiMaggio being one of the most notable), was my first stop. Up and down, through both good and sketchy neighborhoods, I plodded westward toward the park.In the (at times) pouring rain. Except for my $200 cycling rain jacket, I looked like any other homeless person moving along the sidewalk. Wet and miserable.
Finally, I get to the Park, which is loaded with spring tropical flowers and feels like a jungle. The Conservatory of Flowers is my first stop. Closed! (Monday). Crap! So, I move along to the DeYoung Museum, intending to commune with my ancestors (my maiden name is DeYoung). Closed! (Monday) Crap! The only thing open is the Japanese Tea Garden, a serene beautifully-manicured sanctuary. About that time, I’m seriously wet, and John texts – would I like to meet for lunch at Tadich Grill? I think I can bus/subway it there in about 45 minutes. If you go there, order the cioppino. We did, on advice from John’s brother, and it was fantastic. We sat at the long narrow bar in the center of the room, and we curtly greeted by our waiter – a sixtyish dour gentleman. “Wine?” “Red or white?” “Two cioppino? Want some creamed spinach with that? There are no vegetables in cioppino.” John bet me $50 I couldn’t get him to smile. HA! Who does he think he’s dealing with. That guy and I are now best friends. After lunch, John went home, and I wandered for a while more.One thing we both agreed that we MUST do was to bicycle across the Golden Gate. Tuesday was the perfect day for such an endeavor, being the first day with a sparkling blue sky. It was fun, and harrowing at the same time. Imagine hundreds of people on rental bicycles, most of whom have no real sense of cycling. The bike careens left and right with each pedal stroke – you know the kind. Hell, maybe you are that kind. But, it makes for an interesting ride. Picture it….all these bikes, combined with hundreds of people on foot, dozens with their selfie sticks, randomly stepping out into traffic to take the perfect photo of themselves. It’s crazy. And scary. Glad we did it, but I’m not anxious to do it again. I struck up a conversation with a former bicycle messenger who mentioned that he had only struck pedestrians twice in 30 years of cycling the bridge. It must happen every day. Yikes.
We explored the Presidio, stopping at the San Francisco National Cemetery.In the distance, we could see the curious dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, so we detoured to take a look. Built in 1915 for the purpose of exhibiting art for the Panama-Pacific Explosition, it’s an amazing structure. The classic pillars glowed in the sun. What a fantastic sight.
We had some San Francisco failures, too. The icky clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf. The disappointing lunch in Chinatown. Lots of places we just didn’t see, some of it because we just were too wet to wander anymore. Wish I would have gotten a photo of the double-decker sightseeing bus with the passenger on top who had one of those clear rain ponchos wrapped around her head. It was that kind of weather for a few days.
This post isn’t what I had hoped for either. The WiFi here sucks, and most of my photos didn’t upload. It’s time to move on, so this will have to do.