SAN FRANCISCO, California
The most European of the American cities that I visited,, San Francisco is really a must see.
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!
when in wine country, Calistoga is not a bad place to stay. They have hot natural spring pools at Calistoga resort and Spa. I enjoy them after I come back from the wine tasting. The next day you n your mate can relax in a mud bath spa treatment.
Though Mission Dolores and the Presidio were founded by the Spanish in 1776, actual settlement of the area by Europeans began in the 1830s.
After the discovery of gold in 1848, thousands of prospectors poured through town on their way to the California gold fields. The young city expanded rapidly, only to burn down, erupt with crime, and then emerged at the end of the 19th century as the largest and most influential American city west of the Mississippi. The city also rebuilt quickly after the 1906 earthquake and fire.
San Francisco is a hard city to not fall in love with. With an astonishing physical setting and a jumble of architectural styles from an assortment of eras, the former California Gold Rush capital captivates like few others. Surrounded on three sides by glorious water, this peninsular hill-laden marvel would be a candidate for National Park status if they'd never built a city here in the first place. In fact, much of what surrounds the man-made structures is part of the National Park system. Spacey modern skyscrapers and turn of the century relics intermingle effortlessly, salted generously with Victorian and Edwardian homes to add color. Ethnicity is at the forefront with the nation's most colorful Chinatown, a sprawling Hispanic neighborhood, and a taste of Italy right in the city center. So, you know there's food to be eaten in them there hills. But what you notice as you wander up and down the forty-five degree inclines, aside from a confluence of spectacular views, is the utter silence of this gem of a town. There are no honking horns and people seem to speak in whispers. Perhaps they're trying to keep a secret about the place they live in. Can you blame them? Because when cities dream, they dream they're San Francisco.
The San Francisco Bay Area is the region around the bay and centred on San Francisco. The greater Bay Area has over 7 million people and from about 1849 until after 1920 was by far the biggest population centre in the state. It is itself very diverse with many different cities, micros-climates, and things to see. It has much history, especially in San Francisco.
I may be biased, but if I could recommend only one City to visit in California it would be San Francisco. In the City, you will encounter pleasing views, wonderful architecture, interesting history, excellent food, and close proximity to other great areas. Some of the San Francisco's popular attractions include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf. However, opportunities exist to dig much deeper into what this City has to offer. The City by the Bay is as diverse in its attractions as it is in its people.
San Francisco is an extremely interesting city. I spent four days there at the end of my North American travels. The city has an incredibly photogenic setting and is full of beautiful buildings and intriguing neighbourhoods. It needn't cost you a bundle to stay there either, with accommodation for back-packers and those with a budget in mind! See my San Francisco page for more information about this beautiful and engaging city.
The most 'European' city on the Pacific, they say of San Francisco, but its pretty unique in itself. The Bay Area is perhaps the most progressive part of the US (mr Bush is not particularly welcome here, for one thing), and it was San Francisco that embodied the so-called Summer of Love in 1967. Tony Bennett apparently left his heart here (possibly replaced with a modern pacemaker), so if you find it let him know (or sell it on ebay). San Francisco is small, much smaller than the sprawls of other major US cities, being compacted onto a tiny peninsula that stops abruptly at the Golden Gate. But it is hilly, very very hilly, and though it's a great city for walking atound, you might want to bring some comfy shoes, or take advantage of the old wooden cable-cars (seen here).
Oh, one more thing: don't call it 'Frisco', or 'San Fran'. Locals know it as 'San Francisco', or simply 'The City'.
See the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It was built in 1896 after the Cathedral tower in Seville, Spain. Before the bridges were built, it was the gateway to San Francisco for ferries carrying passengers from all over the bay.
The Ferry Building was renovated in 2003. The renovation took 4 years to complete. Now you can stroll inside the building and enjoy the shops and restaurants. You can buy a lunch and eat outside on the deck if you like. You'll have a great view of the Bay Bridge.
Check out this website for the history and list of restaurants inside the Ferry building.
San Francisco is California's (and America's) best city. It has a beautiful setting and a ton of sights, including Chinatown and the famous Golden Gate Bridge. There are inevitably also tourist traps, like Fisherman's Wharf. Walking around Chinatown is fun, as is viewing the Golden Gate Bridge.
What can I say differently about San Francisco that hasn't already been said before. It's truly an amazing city full of vibrancy, cultural diversity, and its own distinctive character. The largest city in the state of California, San Francisco is also the gay capital of the world. A trip to California will not be complete without a visit here!
Geographically, you'll find Oakland and Berkeley on the East Bay, which can be reached by the Bay Bridge. To the north, the Golden Gate Bridge links the peninsula to Marin County. To the south are the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara. Both the Wine Country cities of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley can be reached within an hours drive north/northeast of San Francisco.
This was a total thrill to go down the "crookedest street in the world". LOMBARD STREET has eight sharp turns, known as switchbacks, on a 40 degree slope. There are also stairways on both sides for pedestrians. Located in the Russian Hill District, the descent begins at Hyde Street.
We went down not once, but twice. What a blast!!!
We booked a 2 1/2 hour trip of the city at Fisherman's wharf. The tour bus looks like a cable car - brillaint 'in a nutshell' around San Francisco. We were only in the city for 3 days, so did the tour on the first day. From there, we had enough of an idea which parts we wanted to revisit by ourselves.
San Francisco, the beautiful city of Northern California has been my home for the last four years. Ever since I moved here, I've had numerous friends suddenly decide to drop in for a conference or vacation. I've probably walked Golden Gate Bridge 30 times already and I'm rapidly improving in my role as amateur tour-guide :-) My tour of the city is, of course, highly influenced by my likes and dislikes. In my opinion some San Francisco "attractions" (as they are defined by most travel guides) are overrated and definite tourist traps (I'll include Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli square here - although if you're in the market for kitschy souvenirs and trinkets, this is your best bet). Some attractions I really like, for example the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the sea lions at Pier 39 and the cable cars. But in my opinion what makes this city one of the most beautiful cities in the world is the landscape. The steep streets, the ocean, the bay, the rolling fog. Because San Francisco is located between the bay and the Pacific Ocean it has almost an awesome view from everywhere. Ah, and there is the fog. Lots of it, especially in the summer. If you don?t mind the cold, the fog means lots of great photo opportunities.
Any time of year is a good time to visit San Francisco. But if you want the best weather I think late September and October are the best months here.
Alamo Square is a beautiful neighborhood full of Victorian homes. This is a photo of the famous "Postcard Row." I was most recently here in June of 2004 and afterwards, made the short walk down the hill toward Golden Gate Park.