Having left Bridgeport which is on the eastern side of the
Sierras, we drove north through some beautiful large and open countryside (pure cowboy land) into Nevada and then turned left over the Sierras back into California to get to Tahoe.
Tahoe did not impress us despite the large number of people who said “You guys will really love Tahoe”. For us there was too much development and too many people. Maybe others areas of Tahoe are very nice (we were in South Tahoe) but there was too much traffic on the Sunday roads for us to want to find out.
from around 9000 ft in the mountains to 9 ft at the coast) and drive through the city and across the Golden Gate Bridge but it was announced on the news when we got up that the BART (equivalent of the Tube) had gone on strike overnight and therefore road traffic in the city was at a near standstill. So a quick revision in plan took us to an RV camp in Marin City on the northern side of the Bay from where could get the ferry into Town.
We have both been to San Francisco a number of times before and so our plan for this visit was limited to visiting “The Beat Museum” and rides on a Street Trolley and a Cable Car.
There is something nice about arriving at a city so iconic as SF by boat (well ferry really but we will call it a boat). The views are different and the pace of arrival is slower.
On the way there we passed San Quentin Prison
(occupied) whilst the 4200 prisoners in this prison (which is full to 40% over capacity) were out for a breath of air
and then Alcatraz (unoccupied) to which we went the last time we were here.
Various bridges across the Bay could be seen from the ferry,
the very long Richmond San Rafael Bridge,
the more elegant Bay Bridge,
and although there was a lot of fog on the Bay
which hid the Golden Gate the first time we crossed
it was clear the second time and the view of the city skyline
was just awesome! (such an overused word here).
and here is the Coit Tower
and the 850ft TransAmerica building.
Arrival by ferry is at the Ferry Building which proclaims San Francisco from the seaward side
and on the land side has a large clock tower which chimes “oranges and Lemons” at appropriate times throughout the day.
SF has its share of nice buildings such as this old cafe on the wharf
which now charges high modern day prices because of its location,
this relatively nice modernised building on the corner of Battery
a Department Store in the centre of town
and then a whole series of old art deco style buildings
in quite poor states of repair
which hopefully will be restored in the next few years
plus a very steep street!
The Beat Museum
The Beat Poets (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso and others) regarded San Francisco as their home
and hence a museum has been established in the last few years about them.
Whilst a little thin on content, what there
was is quite interesting to those who either were alive during that period or the immediately following Hippie period or to those who have studied them (and senior discounts were available on the tickets).
This photograph of Alan Ginsberg (and others photographs in a similar vein such as “The Kool-Aid Bus”) was famous at the time.
This “Human Be-In” poster includes all of “The Names” of the period and expresses a lot of the sentiment of that time
and some of the earlier material (here dated 1959) is interesting to read when one remembers that it was considered very daring at the time.
There is a lot of material on Jack Kerouac including the news report of his death
read by Walter Cronkite.
Across the road is the City Lights Bookshop which was opened in 1953 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This was the first all-paperback bookstore in the US
and published a lot of the works of the Beat Poets.
and hidden away up high on the blank end of a nearby building is this phrase which is an example of the commentary in that era.
Street Cars and Cable Cars
Street Cars run along the quayside and then up into town
on the F Route and they are all antiques
and so a couple of rides on these were essential
These are still used by locals for getting about town (particularly today when the BART is on strike), whereas only tourists ride the cable cars
because the queue are ridiculously long and at $6 a go with no transfers allowed (the ability to use your ticket on any other bus / streetcar for a couple of hours), it is expensive.
The queues are long because most tourists only want to ride on the outside seats and to the frustration of the cable car conductors (and us who were some 100 or more down the queue), the cars leave with about 12 passengers on them rather than the many more which they could cope with.
So we adopted the ruse of walking to the next stop along the route and getting on the Cable Car there because there were no queues at that point.
And here are two passengers getting off their Cable Car at the end of the Powell Mason line which is the longest of the lines and experiences the steepest of the hills in San Francisco.
It was then a nice ferry ride back to our RV camp across a slightly choppy Bay after an easy day in San Francisco.