Tuesday, August 28, 2012

San Francisco in a day - 27 August 2012

Leaving Petaluma our first introduction to San Francisco was commuter traffic on the motorway heading into the city but fortunately we had two occupants in the car so could use the HOV Lane to make slightly faster progress onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pulling off at the first exit once across the historic span we stopped at the information centre to see the displays and take the requisite photos since the fog had just lifted leaving the bridge resplendent in full sunlight for us and all the other happy snappy tourists.

Photos taken; info boards read; facts noted: opened 1937, longest span, highest towers, 27572 strands per cable etc; we moved on.  By lucky web searching we had discovered that a BART station on our way out to the south had 5-hour free parking so we headed for that, by-passing the city traffic and found the second to last park available.

$3.50 (each) bought us a return BART ride to the city centre which compared to $33 in town was cheap all-day parking, and so we rode the rail to Embarcadero Centre to start our 5-hour whistle-stop tour of San Francisco highlights.

There was a cable-car waiting at the bottom of California St when we exited so we rode that to the top and down the other side as far as Leavenworth St (item 1 ticked) and walked along to look up Filbert - possibly the steepest street (item 2 ticked) and on to Lombard St to look up at the "crookedest street" (item 3 ticked).

Continuing down we arrived at the waterfront and headed left to Ghiradelli Square for a famous ice-cream (item 4 ticked). We then picked of the maritime museum exhibits since we had free entry with our National Park pass (item not on the list) before heading along the waterfront Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 (items 5 and 6 ticked).
Heading back inland we wandered up the hill and down again to have a good look at the Trans-America tower (item 7 ticked) then headed back up hill to walk through Chinatown (item 8 ticked) and back down to Embarcadero to look at the very different fountain there before catching a train back to Glen Park and our parking lot with 2 minutes left of our 5 hours.

The only memory from Murray's 1984 San Francisco trip that was not re-visited was a fountain that could be walked down into, and which had featured in the film Logan's Run.  A bit of web searching later revealed that this particular fountain was actually in Fort Worth and seen on from Murray's 1987 trip. This may explain why we did not find it in San Francisco! Oh well, you can't remember everything!

The other reason for picking our parking lot was that it was about 100m from a motorway on-ramp and so we were back on the move south in minutes and once again, used the HOV Lane to speed past all the other commuters on motorways that were at times 7 lanes wide.

The commuter traffic was a fixture all the way to Santa Cruz where we exited to check out the coast; inaccessible without paying for State Parks or expensive parking, so we moved on to our campsite.  This was the absolute worst campsite we have stayed at in 38 days across America. Santa Cruz KOA is ridiculously expensive and for this you get a pocket-handkerchief of dirt that is so hard you cannot hammer tent pegs into it: extremely bad value.

135 miles today, total trip 7101.  States: California

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