To identify San Fran, we relate it’s iconic attractions. Alcatraz & The Golden Gate spring straight to mind. In all truth, it was the Palace of Fine Arts grounds that stole the show for us today and something that most tourists will easily let slip by. Follow us back around the Fog City as we explore further.
Another night cradled into the comforting sheets at the Union Square was over & we opted to walk down to Pier 33 – Alcatraz Landing to visit one of America’s most notorious prisons. The walk pleasantly opened our eyes to the niceties of towering skyscrapers and the unpleasantries of San Francisco’s poverty problem. Another discussion for another day.
Pier 33 was already abuzz with tourists flooding in. Swarms headed toward the queue for the boat. We were both eagerly anticipating the history lesson we were about to receive. Delving into Alcatraz’s history would be a post on itself, so praise the internet for easy links, such as THIS.
The excitement slowly transitioned to nausea, with the gentle waves still affecting my seasick sensitive stomach! We were impressed with the Hornblower Hybrid, which uses a combination of diesel, electric, wind & solar to move us humans around, making Alcatraz cruises the greenest ferry boats in the nation. It was also the first hybrid passenger ferry service!
Alcatraz itself is a unique experience. The history behind it is fascinating, with guided walks along Broadway whilst being audio guided through it’s timeline culminating in the enthralling escape by Frank Lee Morris. A genius in his own right, his escape started the beginning of the end for this state prison. It has all the makings of an educational and exciting day out yet the floods of people waddling around, crashing into you whilst taking Snapchats and following the narration can be extremely infuriating and quite draining.
The history lesson we’d just embarked on made us decide to go for a stroll toward the Golden Gate Bridge. It was great walking through the Maritime National Historical Park and along the sandy beaches. Dogs dart toward you and cool themselves down in the water. It felt like a much more local San Fran, only footsteps away from the touristic haven. Continuing along the beach and merging onto Marina Boulevard, you’ll find a great outdoor gym, perfect for calisthenic training. Further along this walk was the Palace of Fine Arts Grounds, the first starting point of the Presidio. The tall Roman-esque pillars were architectural gems. Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition, these have become San Franciscan treasures but aren’t so notorious with tourists.
Finally, we made it to the piece de la resistance, after a substantial upward climb. The Golden Gate Bridge. Deceptively not golden, this red colossal structure was celebrating it’s 80th birthday on our visit, where 200,000 bridge walkers crossed it’s 4,200 feet in 1937. Chicago based engineer Joseph Strauss created the bridge and in all honesty, it’s nothing more than that. Sure it’s a different colour and rather long but a bridge is a bridge, right? It’s over population probably didn’t assist our love for it, as was becoming a recurring theme in San Fran, yet we didn’t see the big appeal, so we wandered off south and overlooked Marshall’s beach. There are many not so hidden beaches along the coast of San Fran that are worth checking out, especially to the West/North West.
We didn’t explore Presidio Park as much as we should have but there are plenty of options, especially those who are into history or museums. Such sites include The Walt Disney Museum, Fort Point & The House of Air. Irrespective of what your plans are for San Francisco, the Presidio Park is a great place to wander and ponder.
We caught the Line 4 bus back into town, utilising our bus passes in our welcome pack. The congestion throughout San Francisco is even more prevalent being indulged in it, with the masses opting for 4 wheel transport in this concrete metropolis. It’s understandable with half of the city’s roads seeming to be on a 60 degree angle! Nevertheless, we got back to Fisherman’s Wharf and had our clam chowder, which we mistakenly wrote about yesterday. For clam chowder, calamari and crab cocktail was $27. Our suggestion, save the dosh! The calamari was the star of the show but none of it blew our socks off. Maybe there are some locals who could suggest the best Clam Chowder in San Fran?
After a long day of walking, what better way to relax your cockles than catching one of the city’s happy hours?! We headed over to nearby Pompei’s Grotto which caught our eye with it’s $5 gin and tonic offer, one which we were more than happy to oblige with. It also contained beers and wines on the happy hour but knowing American serving measures, we went highball.
Unfortunately, nearly 2 weeks of extensive travelling got the best of us and we conked out extremely early, not getting to explore San Fran at night. We’ll save that for the other nights!