We awoke bright and early, to a guy asleep on the bunk above, and a guy sleeping under a blanket on the floor, right in front of my pack, with his head pillowed on my shoes. Awkward. By the time we had breakfasted (on bagels, again), and showered, he had moved off my shoes, so luckily I didn’t have to wake him to get them out.
Today we were doing the Dylan’s Famous tour – a bus tour of the city in a minivan. It was pretty amazing, we got to see all the main sights of San Francisco, and the guy had an amazing amount of knowledge about the city, and he talked throughout most of the driving bits of the trip. We started at Union Square, then headed straight into the Tenderloin, probably one of the lesser parts of the city, and the only part he advised us to be careful in. It has a lot of homeless, soup kitchens etc. Drove past the town hall area.
Next we went to the Mission district, that has undergone a lot of changes. It has a large Latino population, and in many of the shops are both english and spanish translations. The mission district used to be quite run down, but more recently has become a place of the hip and cool, and there are a lot of good food places, we saw a line of maybe 10-15 people waiting to get in to a corner cafe. We stopped in an alleyway, where people had done a lot of graffiti art, and there was a whole history behind it – something along the lines of a run down part of town, artists move in, practice on the walls, make it pretty, more ‘well-off’ people start moving in, voila! Gentrification of an area. The street art was pretty amazing and detailed, and much of it has a deeper message, or reflects on society and particular views.
Dolores Park, which overlooks the city, and is often full to the brim in spring and summer good days.
Twin Peaks, the top of a hill overlooking the San Fran skyline. You can look straight up Market Street, and all around, out to the Golden Gate Bridge and furthur.
Castro district, home to gay pride. Lots of guys, rainbow flags, people walking their dogs.
Haight and Ashbury, home to the hippies in the 60s and 70s. Lots of famous names like Janice Joplyn, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix. We got icecream from a Ben and Jerrys on the corner, with riduculous flavours, while a homeless* guy on the corner gave an empassioned speech while dancing over the road. (*probably homeless, probably on some sort of drugs/weed, who knows!). The Hells Angels also used to live in the area, and often went around with the Grateful Dead, acting as bodyguards.
Pacific Heights, and the millionaires/billionaires row, a range of massive houses on top of a hill, with commanding views of the bay. One of the residents was setting up for a party and had closed the road. Crazy decorations and setting up going on.
The painted ladies, a group of houses pretty much exactly the same, that survived the 1906 earthquake. A lot of that type of housing was destroyed, the old Victorian type houses.
We drove through the Presidio, a lovely park/suburb area, that is being held in trust in case the army ever want it back. You can rent properties and live there, but you can’t buy properties or land.
Over the Golden Gate Bridge, to Muir Woods, a national monument, a valley of massive and really old redwoods. We saw a squirrel and an owl. It was pretty cool, the trees were massive and old, but there seemed to be a lot of people there, even though Dylan told us it was pretty quiet in terms of people. I wouldn’t want to go on a busy day.
Back to the bridge via saulsilito, and the headlands to the north of the bridge for some amazing photos, then back down to town. Apparently the Marina District is built mostly on reclaimed land, filed in with, among other things, abandoned boats from the 49ers, the people who arrived en masse to pan for gold.
Overall it was a great trip, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone interested in a snapshot of SanFran.
A quick walk back to the hostel, amidst a large amount of santa clauses, apparently it is SantaCon today, and everyone likes to dress as Santa, and then do a pub crawl. Some had started at 11am this morning, we saw some way back in Dolores Park, just before lunch. Walking home tonight, they were just everywhere, and a little bit startling.
When we went out for dinner it was a bit of a struggle, on two accounts.
First, as we had spent quite a lot on dinner the night before, we wanted to take it easy. Pizza slices were ideal, but finding vegetarian was a pain in the butt. Only at the takeaway places, restaurants and cafes are usually great.
Second, there were santas, EVERYWHERE. It was ridiculous and a wee bit scary. Some restaurants had a ‘no santas’ policy. I would have liked to go to one of those, but they were the expensive ones.
It was weird, one night we spent $70 on nice meals and drinks, and the next we spent $12 on pizza slices. Nowhere near as good, or as good for you, but quite a difference.