Visiting San Francisco
Is San Francisco the most “European” city of the USA?
If so, it must be English with all the humidity and fog we met there in August.
And cold! It’s a pity, because the city is really magnificent.
The connection to the sea, the conflicts between the straight streets and the hilly place, the several and different quarters, the bay, Alcatraz, everything has something in common with our American references and memories built by movies.
Not to be missed!
The Image of San Francisco
Everybody knows this bridge, but for a Portuguese is… “I think I’ve seen it before”.
And that’s because the bridge has a twin in Lisbon. I know, that this one is a little bigger and older, and the technical problems are always stronger in first model than in second one, and the rough sea is a challenge that Lisbon doesn’t face. So… not too impressed, but… respectful. (Allow me one confession: the three days I spent in San Francisco, each time I looked at the bridge, made me appreciate more the light of Lisbon.
Quite a difference…
Golden Gate Park
If “our” August was not so cold, and if Fernanda was not so indisposed, we would have appreciated more this heavenly park.
It must be nice for locals to have such a relaxing area (in hot days…).
Address: Area bounded by Lincoln, Fulton, Stanyan.
Directions: Between Great Highway, Lincoln Way, Stanyan St. and Fulton St.
Wonderful garden, small, but well conceived and decorated.
Fernanda was feeling sick, and that “helped” us to shorten the visit, otherwise I think we would still be there.
Address: Located in Golden Gate Park
A Very Subjective Attraction
If you read stories about Alcatraz and its prisoners, or saw some movies about it, then the visit is very interesting for the revival of your memories.
If as it happened to Fernanda, you never paid to much attention to its references and go there expecting something really appealing, then you will be disappointed.
Of course, the audio tour creates a good ambiance, of course the trip in the bay is positive, but thinking on the price you pay and the long lines to take the boat, maybe you’d try something else
There are at least two jokes in Portugal about the size of things in the USA:
One says that in the USA everything is so big that even the small things are big.
The other says that the streets are so large that even to cross them we have to take the car.
Can you imagine why did Lombard street remind me those jokes?
Address: Lombard Street. Descent begins at Hyde Street.
I knew that with its European look, its fog, cold and humidity, San Francisco was England instead of USA. The disguise failed in Alamo square.
Ah! Ah! Got you. Those Victorian houses don’t lie.
Address: At the intersection of Steiner and Hayes streets.
Again (see my other tips), something looking not very American, I don’t know why.
Once a factory, the old building, well preserved, is a modern shopping mall. And it is nice and harmonious.
Address: 900 North Point Street at Larkin
Reversing tram’s direction
The trams are a San Francisco ex-libris, so you will end using them at least once.
However, you must not loose the best: the reversing of the direction at the end of the line.
Near the Cannery, you will have to wait only a few minutes to see a great performance.
Strange and Big
The biggest building in San Francisco is also the strangest.
Remembering the regulations and precautions against earthquakes it impresses to imagine what was done in that building.
Built in 1972 and 260 meters high, It seems to have been planned to use sunlight as well as possible.
Wonderful building with almost one century, and recently prepared to support seismic activity, its dome is taller than the Capitol in Washington.
It gives a different touch to the diversity of town.
Address: located at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
We forgot the flower
We really did it. We went to Ashbury-Heights, and, despite all the musical warnings that we listened to in Portugal, we forgot to wear a flower in our heads. Sorry! And we did feel bad, because, the feeling is still there (not the flowers!). Too much youth, lots of irreverence, and a different town in town. Maybe it is not your world, as it is not mine; but you should go there to see the contrasts that enrich San Francisco.
Address: Haight Street from Stanyan to Lyons
Who saw one Chinatown in America has seen them all.
I saw many, but this one was my favorite. Small, clean, nice smell (well… not so bad!), some beautiful buildings, and as expected, Chinese goods at almost Chinese prices. Furthermore, as we met winter in August being prepared for summer, a Chinese coat was welcome.
Address: Bordered by Broadway, Bush, Kearny, Stockton sts.
Directions: Ornamental gate at Grant and Bush intersection.
A Gothic church in USA!
Am I dreaming?Of course not. It’s just one more sight of American complex for the lack of history, using their wealth and technology to reproduce the signs of European history. Finished in 1964 it’s announced as one of the biggest churches in USA. Anyway, it was an opportunity for some modern artists to apply their skills and became an acceptable visitable point.
Address: Area surrounding California Street at Taylor
Thousands of people in Portugal discuss the best way to promote tourism in our country.
Well, sometimes it just a question of luck, as in San Francisco. The sea lions decided to invade pier 39, and locals only needed to accept them to have another unused attraction. So, while the discussion continues, the lottery (or a candle in Fatima for the religious people) may help, but for the moment, only one message: If a lot of animals invade any Portuguese space, before acting, think at San Francisco’s example: Extermination is not always the answer.
Address: The Embarcadero at Beach Street
Muir woods park
No, Fernanda is not a midget.
No, we have no inferiority complex. No.
The truth is that the tree is really very big. They say it’s redwood, the only tree higher than giant sequoia.
Having been there, a few kilometers after passing Golden Gate, I have no doubt. And I do recommend the park
Address: Mill Valley, Marin County
Tarantino – Marriage on Table
Solopes and his wife, both born in Turquel, Portugal, have the pleasure to announce that San Francisco registered the marriage of a perfect crab with Kendall-Jackson, a Chardonnay white wine from Napa, born in 1998.
The wedding took place at a Tarantino’s table, in Fisherman’s Wharf, and made the happiness of all the guests, that were only the two of us. After the marriage, Fernanda accused me of paying too much for the event and took me to Alcatraz.
Ah, Ah, Ah! She didn’t know that Alcatraz is today a pleasant place for digestions.
Address: 206 Jefferson Street @ Taylor
It’s a must do, in San Francisco – the visit to Alcatraz. For those acquainted to its history, the audio tour hits the purpose of, more than describing the place, to create a vivid sense of the old days, well reinforced by the opening and closing of the doors by the “guards”.
I must confess that, after visiting the prison used by our old dictatorship to political prisoners, in Peniche, it didn’t impress me much.
The views over the bay are great, but the best is that… it has a return trip included, and leaving such a place gives a sensation of relief. Buy your tickets in advance, and be prepared for long lines, but without any chances to get bored, because animation in the pier never stops.
Address: In the middle of San Francisco Bay
Directions: Alcatraz is reached by ferries of the Blue and Gold fleet from Pier 41
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