Tuesday, August 2, 2011

San Francisco, 27th-29th July

Wednesday, 27th July 2011
And so I touched down into San Francisco and arrived at my hostel where I was to lay my head for that night. After checking in and dropping off my bags I took the long(ish) walk from downtown to the North Point of the San Francisco peninsula to the Golden Gate Bridge and, slightly into the bay, Alcatraz. The walk was quite pleasant, and an introduction to the steep hills that characterise San Francisco's topography.

Steep hillz, innit

I call this, 'Perspective'

Arriving at the promenade along the coastline was, however, a slight anti-climax. San Francisco is apt to frequently being besieged by heavy doses of fog and mist that roll in from the North Pacific. It turned out the fog had reared its ugly, muggy head that day and had decided to cloak the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge in its impervious grasp. My view was reduced to the feet of the supporting pillars and very little else.

Hide-and-seek with the Golden Gate Bridge

After returning to Hostel Hell I popped over the road to Lori's, an American diner, for a supper of burger and fries and then blagged my way into a bar next door despite my lack of ID proving I was over 21. I met a nice chap called Mahmood who was visiting the US from Switzerland looking around different universities that he was considering applying to for DPhil courses. A few drinks later and I was ready for bed - which was just as well as Mahmood had decided to attach himself to a trio of excruciatingly boring girls from San Jose.

Thursday, 28th July 2011
I spent most of the day sampling San Francisco's cultural heritage. First stop was a brisk walk up to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Suitably educated in the fine arts, I wandered over to the edge of Chinatown and paid a visit to the Cable Car Museum on Mason St. stopping off along the way at Grace Cathderal.

The Powell St. Cable Car

After a dim-sum variety luncheon at the Grand Palace in Chinatown (which was worryingly translated as 'Grant Palace' on the menus) I toodled along down to the waterfront through the raised highline shopping boulevard ending up at the SF Museum of Modern Art where I spent a good chunk of the day exploring its famous exhibition The Steins Collect, and its photography exhibitions. The Steins Collect was quite brilliant, featuring over 100 artworks collected by the Stein family from the turn, until their deaths in the latter half, of the 20th Century. The collection is stuffed with brilliant works, with a sizeable contingent of Picassos, Matisses and Cézannes and the MOMA gallery itself also contains some of the best works by my favourite artist, Joan Miró.

After a mediocre supper at a nearby Italian I mooched the streets and had some desert at a cake stand in Union Square to round off my last night in downtown San Francisco. On Friday I was to travel North, over the the east side of the bay, to stay with a host in nearby Richmond.

Mist over Union Square

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