Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2006-07

Sunny San Francisco

Despite the horrid conditions that prevailed for my arrival in the city, the weather had cleaned up its act beautifully. It was a cold, but gloriously sunny, last day of February. I had breakfast in the ground-floor Club Lounge and, after a bit of time getting various things organised, I was ready to start exploring by about 10 o'clock. I was captivated the moment I set out, just by the way that the morning sun was striking some nearby houses. I began by strolling around the square in front of Grace Cathedral, before catching a California Street cable car down to the Financial District, buying a day pass for the transit system in the process. I noted that this was better value than ever; although it had risen from $9 to $11 since my previous visit, a one-way cable car ride had also gone up from $3 to $5!

I had a walk through and around the Ferry Building and, thanks to a flyer that I picked up, realised that I was within a few steps of the new San Francisco Railway Museum. This is as much a gift shop as a museum, but it is free and profits made on sales go towards keeping the F line vintage streetcars running. I took one of the cars along to Fisherman's Wharf and had a quick look around the very touristy Pier 39. One of the basking sea lions seemed to be putting on a show for the tourists, but it ended in him regurgitating some steaming lumps of fish, which were snapped up in 3 seconds flat by some nearby seagulls, who had perhaps read the signs. Ugh!

Unlikely as it may seem after that little spectacle, my thoughts turned to lunch, and I set off in the direction of Washington Square and Little Italy. I selected an attractive looking restaurant and only realised once I was inside that it was where I had first met fellow-FTer and fellow-Scot Shuttle-Bored in September 2004. After a very nice lunch, I caught a 39 bus up to the Coit Tower, confident that the views would make the short trip worthwhile. I was not disappointed - the lack of crowds and the clear February sunshine combined to provide some truly glorious views of the city and its surroundings.

I then quite deliberately described a complete circle by getting the bus back to the Wharf, taking an F line streetcar round to the vicinity of Union Square and riding a Powell & Hyde cable car all the way to Lombard & Hyde which, as well as being at the top of that section of Lombard known as the Crookedest Street in the World, is also a wonderful vantage point for photographing the cable cars with Alcatraz in the background - truly the stuff of picture postcards. I walked back down to the wharf and returned to the Mark Hopkins via another F line ride and a California Street cable car which, of course, dropped me off at my door

After all that sight-seeing, I was happy to forego any evening forays and simply enjoy the comforts of the Mark Hopkins. I realised that almost nothing that I'd done all day had been new, yet I was completely satisfied. I had thoroughly enjoyed simply revisiting some standard sights in the winter sunshine and letting the city work its magic on me.

Wed 28 Feb

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