California Adventure: The Streets of San Francisco - Day One

Monday, 2 November 2009

Oh sigh. It didn't let us down. That amazing place. How I've longed to meet you, San Francisco

Travelling to the US in January 2008 for our California Adventure, we left Beijing at 1.30 in the afternoon and arrived 12 hours later at 8am in San Francisco - our starting point for a three week road trip. It basically meant we stayed up all night and then had a full day ahead of us.

We troopered through it - catching a cab to our fab little hotel - Buena Vista Motor Inn (used to 5 star in Asia, we opted for 3 to 4 star in the States so we could actually afford Disneyland). We loved it there - such a lovely spot and the foyer breakfast put me in mind of my backpacking days in Europe.

Once we'd unpacked, we caught a local bus to Ghiradelli Square (great bus network in San Fran! check out the 511) to the Balclutha square rigger (1886) at the Maritime National Historical Park near Fisherman's Wharf. You can walk onto the ship for a peek, if you like, and there are great vistas here to Golden Gate Bridge.

Walking down to Fisherman's Wharf, we were a teensy weensy bit disappointed. Admittedly, it was the height of winter and raining, but it was still a little disheartening. Having held in my mind's eye for many years a bustling, colourful, noisy, authentic market of fishmongers and greengrocers, we were instead met with a quiet, over-styled, almost sterile (but very pretty) tourist haunt.

We nonetheless loved it. We bough taffy (oh my, the flavour choices!) and donuts and took a ride on the carousel and spied Alcatraz through binoculars on the water's edge. We even heard the echoing call of nearby seals.

Our next must-do was the San Francisco streetcar or 'cable car'. We bought a three day Muni pass which allowed us to travel on all of the city's buses and trams, which made for super-good value. This was just such brilliant fun.

The kids LOVED it and curious me got to ask a 'driver' about how one goes about getting such a cool job. Turns out you have to be incredibly strong (the cable cars are quite literally manually operated using a huge lever) and only a small percentage of people qualify to run a cable car, after extensive training and testing.

As we travelled around on the cars, it struck me how many Chinese live in San Fran. Chinatown has the greatest single concentration of Chinese people outside of Asia - at 80,000. Interesting, though, to note that most were speaking Cantonese, not Mandarin.

We travelled downtown on the cable car and wandered around, had some lunch and then caught the car back to Union Street where we ogled the magnificent houses (well, I did) before returning to the hotel for rest.

Basically, we didn't let that pesky jetlag defeat us, and it was well worth the effort, despite having to drag the kids around (quite literally) like ragdolls.

It was 5pm in our hotel room that we quite literally all dozed off exactly where we had taken our shoes off, waking at 2am San Francisco time, starving hungry and wide, wide awake. All four of us.

Cursed jetlag. Travelling would be SOOOO much more convenient without it.

1 comment:

Tiny Concept said...

I am so jealous! It looks amazing - maybe one day I'll get there.

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