A day in the bay of San Francisco

It’s been a long time! How have you been? Go ahead, feel free to tell me in the comment section below – I dare you. I do apologise for my unintentional hiatus from the blogosphere. While I was away I ventured across the pond (aka the Atlantic Ocean) to the golden state of California which was a great relief for my ever-itching wanderlust.

Taking a break from the minutia of London life gave me an opportunity to look at the bigger picture, literally. I found myself making an extra effort to seek out the views of San Francisco to get a different perspective on the things that have been playing the drums on my mind.

San Francisco is a place that feels familiar thanks to its many appearances on the big and small screen of Hollywood productions. On one particular adventurous day (more of that later) I came across the the view below. It reminded me of a poignant scene from the film “The Pursuit of Happyness” which is based on the real life rags-to-riches story of Chris Gardner played by Will Smith. The film depicts Gardner’s struggle as he goes from being a homeless single-parent to the beginnings of his successful brokerage career.

Pursuing happiness by a San Francisco view

Admittedly, it is a pretty sickly sweet scene especially if you’re in a cynical mood having been dealt yet another job rejection. But in its defence Gardner speaks the truth when he tells his son that he must pursue his dreams regardless of the naysayers. It’s a sentiment that I’ve been living by for some time now.

Now to scenery searching, having been to San Francisco previously I was determined to go to the the sites that I had missed which included Coit Tower. It’s one of the most distinctive features of the skyline as it looms over the city from its perch on Telegraph Hill. If you’re a person who appreciates views this is a must-see. I also thought it might be cool to attempt swinging my plait (that’s braid for the American readers) over the side like Rapunzel.

Away from my fairytale daydreams to the rather interesting history of Coit Tower. It was completed in 1933 having been funded by a bequest in the will of local resident Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She wanted a monument built to honour the city she loved. If I was ever in a similar position I’d like a big-fat airplane to be built in Hounslow town centre as it’s so close to good-old Heathrow. Back to the thrill-seeking character that was Coit who among other things was known to have accompanied firefighters around the city as they put out blazes. She was also often seen wearing trousers which may not seem like a big deal but during her lifetime it wasn’t the done thing for women. Coit was ahead of her time.

Coit Tower standing tall like you'd expect a tower to
Coit Tower standing tall like you’d expect a tower to

For a tourist attraction it’s inexpensive at $7  a ticket but there’s not much else to do apart from taking in the spectacular 360 degree views from the top. With this in mind, leave the easily-bored peeps at home – thankfully my dear mum is an explorer at heart. There are murals that decorate the inside lobby of the tower depicting life in Depression Era California which were painted by politically left-leaning artists. I didn’t manage to spot the socialism in the scenery at the time.

Depression era California probably has much in common with present Credit Crunched California
Depression Era California probably has much in common with present Credit Crunched California

To reach the tower we took the famous cable car which I had managed to miss out on previous visits. A major tourist oversight on my part. We boarded at Market Street taking the Powell-Market line. A single ride is $5. It was a great experience especially for those of you who may enjoy eavesdropping on fellow travellers conversations as everyone babbles along enthusiastically. There are seats on the outside that provide a bracing breeze along with an eyeful of passing vistas which include Union Square, another tourist hotspot.

Definitely not like rush hour on a London tube
Enjoying the ride that is life with its up and downs cable car style
Enjoying the ride that is life with its up and downs cable car style

The cable car took us as far Union Street from where we walked the rest of the way. San Francisco is very steep in places so whoever you’re walking with, in my case my mum, may get an attack of the, “Are we there yet?” syndrome as they climb up the slopes.

Mum feeling pleased have scaled a pretty steep street
Mum feeling pleased having scaled a pretty steep street

However rest assured once Coit Tower was reached there was a display of appreciation at the destination’s panoramas. My favourite view was of the Financial District with the Transamerica Pyramid at its hub.

Here’s one I made earlier with lego

On the way down we took the Filbert Steps which was a walk on the wild side as there is an abundance of foliage making it seem tropical. The steps are home to a flock of feral parrots adding to the forest feeling.  The wooden steps go down through a neighbourhood which would otherwise be inaccessible. There are fire hydrants and even a parking meter. The plant life is tended to by the residents – now that’s a community taking care of its environment.

The lush leaves of the Filbert Steps
The Bay Bridge as seen from the Filbert Steps
The Bay Bridge as seen from the Filbert Steps

At the bottom of the steps if you cross the street (with a bit of navigation) you will be greeted by the Levi’s Plaza which is worth checking out if you’re a denim lover as San Francisco is the home of the brand. I’ve never owned a pair of Levi’s but I wonder if Coit did? Anyway, in the tourist spirit of things I felt it was really important to get a photo with the sign for the sake of posterity.

Leaning on the Levi sign
Leaning on the Levi’s sign

By the end of the day I felt like I wanted to wear trousers (Coit) and follow my dreams (Gardner) having found the inspiration that I was looking for. If you’ve got this far in your reading here’s a quick piece of advice about San Francisco, it’s windy and colder than the rest of the sunshine state. This is a fact that is often overlooked by tourists. Good thing you read my blog, eh?


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