Monday, June 17, 2013

I left my heart in San Fran-cisco! (Part One)

Except that I haven't left yet! I know, I'm actually writing a blog when I'm still in the city it's about! Don't get used to it though, I've got 8 days here which is why.

Mum and I drove over the Golden Gate and then immediately dropped off the rental car, so we were back on foot. Avis was actually a bit crappy with added fees that hadn't been explained. But anyway...

We spent our first evening wandering Fisherman's Wharf which is the touristy area of The City (apparently what the locals call San Fran) other than the bridge. 

Houses in classic San Franciscan architecture.

The Ferry Building at the beginning of Embarcadero

That's Coit tower you can see in the distance.

A war-ship through an arch - aren't I artistic?
 There are a lot of seafood restaurants and street carts at Fisherman's wharf so we picked one and munched on some crab, shrimp and calamari for tea.
 Obama even stopped by for a visit!
 We checked out some of the shops in the area including this very well decorated sweet shop!

 Then caught a cable car home - it was pretty packed!
 The next day was Mum's only full day as she was leaving the next afternoon so we got up early to pack as much in as we could.

We started with a trip out to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. At this point I also did who-knows-what to my camera and all of the photos are blue for a while. Oh well...

 Then, in keeping with our theme of Tourist!! we caught the bus to Lombard Street to view the self-proclaimed "crookedest street". This is only a one block section of Lombard in the Russian Hill area. Cars queue to drive down while tourists get in everyone's way. I'm proud to say that we were two of those tourists for 20 minutes!

 Having made our way down Lombard it was only a short walk to Coit Tower. Now this has quite a cool story behind it which I am going to type directly from the information given at the tower.

"Lillie Hitchcock was seven when she came to San Francisco with her wealthy Kentucky parents in 1851. She was saved from a tragic fire by the volunteers of the Knickerbocker Engine Co. #5. Later seeing firemen struggling up Telegraph Hill, she dropped her schoolbooks and joined them. She became the Knickerbocker #5 mascot and rarely missed a blaze.

Lillie lived a flamboyant life in San Francisco, married Howard Coit of Telegraph Hill against her family's wishes, smoked cigars and often dressed as a man to gamble in North Beach saloons. When an envious relative tried to shoot her and a friend who rushed to protect her was killed, Lillie fled to Paris.

In 1923, after years in Europe, where she was a favourite of the Court of Napoleon III, she returned to her beloved San Francisco where she died in 1929 at age 88."

OK, so the tower itself was built as a monument thanks to the money she left to San Francisco, but her story is pretty brilliant, don't ya think?

Finger in the way, I know, I know.
 The inside of Coit tower is covered in murals depicting the history of the city.

 And my camera finally lost its blue hue thanks to some random button pressing on my part. We walked into downtown and caught a movie to rest our legs for a whil before walking back to our hotel via the Painted ladies.

Oh, and there are randomly placed garden plots in the street. Some are veggie gardens, some are flowers, the one below is succulents.
 There is a lot of street art around the city.
 These are the painted ladies - a set of six houses which epitomise old San Franciscan architecture. They border Alamo square which is where the family from Full House has a picnic at the beginning of the show if anyone was interested.
 The next day we did some shopping in Haight-Ashbury which used to be the hippy district and still is, but is a little touristy now. Then Mum dropped me off at my hostel before going to grab her shuttle to the airport where she flew back to NZ. She was lovely and rolled my bag most of the way as I'd injured my elbow on our mad dash to avoid the parade and get to the rental car in Portland - some motivation to pack lighter!

As you can probably guess from the title I'll have a part two coming shortly which will cover the rest of my time in San Fran without Mum - it seemed a bit much to pack into one post!

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