7th November - 11th November
07.11.2011 - 11.11.2011
Following a 40 minute night bus journey into the heart of San Francisco from the Amtrak station in nearby Emeryville, and almost two and a half days of sitting down on the train, I decided to do the 30 minute city hike to my hostel in the centre of the city. I could feel the muscle in my legs coming back to life, and after a long shower, passed out in my greatly appreciated bunk bed.
The next morning, still keen to get active, I signed up for a San Fran bicycle tour with a few other hostellers. The six hour trip led to some of the best moments of the trip so far; the highlight being cycling over a sun drenched (rare for this time of year) Golden Gate Bridge and then down some mammoth hills into nearby Sausalito. I also learnt some interesting bridge facts: the Golden Gate Bridge is painted orange as it is the most visible colour in fog (very common throughout the year) and secondly, that there is a suicide off the bridge on average every two weeks, making it the number one suicide hotspot of the world. Fascinating, I think you'll agree.
For the rest of my time in San Fran, I was joined by Matt, a guy I'd met in Washington DC a few weeks earlier, and we'd agreed to hook up in SF and then with a couple of Scottish girls he'd met, drive down the Californian coast or The Coastal Pacific Highway following our jaunt in SF.
For three days, the sun shone and we spent it exploring (the huge, but not to be missed) Golden Gate Park and Alcatraz which despite it's eeriness was beautiful in the sun and fulfilled a long time dream to see 'The Rock'. Following our day at Alcatraz, the hostel decided to show the film 'The Rock'. If you ever have the opportunity to watch it, don't.
On our final day in SF I decided to attempt to take Matt on the cycle tour I'd done earlier in the week. It didn't go quite as smoothly. Not only did I manage to get us quite lost in downtown SF, but Matts bike managed to pick up a puncture. However after eventually changing the bike, our reward came as we cycled down the famous steep and curvy Lombard Street, complete with tourists and locals convinced that they were about to witness us cycling to our deaths.
It was also in SF that i ate my first 'In'n'out' burger; a staple meal on the West Coast. Simply put, it was one of the best and most juiciest burgers I'd ever eaten. We also later discovered that they have a secret language for ordering; allowing for mammoth burgers to be built and I'm sure also a number of life threatening outcomes.
It was easy to see why pretty much everyone I had spoken to during my trip loved SF, with it's combination of beautiful but intimidating steep streets, as well as stunning parks and beaches easily accessible from the city. Unfortunatley however, a theme here I did particularly notice (and one which was common in all the cities I visited in the US) was the extreme number of homeless people wondering the streets.
On our final evening we headed out on a pub crawl to say goodbye to the city. The following morning we rose to grey skies to accompany our hangover; perfect as it was time to collect the rental car and start the 9 day road-trip chasing the sun down the Californian coast.
SAN FRAN TOP THREE
1. Rent a bike and cycle around town and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Cycle down lots of hills, not up them.
2. In n out burger - A west coast institution and one if the best ways to shorten your life.
3. Alcatraz - Head to The Rock, just don't watch the film.