July 29, 2014

San Francisco – Haight-Ashbury & Golden Gate Park

We started the next day by taking a bus to Alamo Square, famous for its historic Victorian ‘Painted Ladies’ houses.

We then walked to the Haight-Ashbury district, the birthplace of hippie counterculture.

I rented a bike again to explore the Golden Gate Park, with its hundres of gardens and attractions connected by wooden paths and paved roads.

Conservatory of Flowers 

 Japanese Tea Garden

 Bison paddock

Dutch Windmill

Exiting the park, I pedalled on to the Sutro Bath ruins – this used to be a public saltwater swimming pool complex that was burned down in 1966.

More on San Francisco here, here and here.

July 26, 2014

San Francisco – Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

One of the must-do itinerary in San Francisco is biking the Golden Gate Bridge, the most photographed man-made structure in the world.  We rented our bicycles from one of the many shops around Fisherman’s Wharf with a map in hand, started our 15km journey passing through the Presidio National Park that includes Fort Mason, Crissy Field, Baker Beach, Pacific Overlook and Fort Point before finally crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the bridge from Fort Mason 

Crissy Field 

Baker Beach

Pacific Overlook

 Fort Point, the beginning of the bridge

Exiting the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge at East Fort Baker, we pedalled on to the charming town of Sausalito, before taking a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf.  

We made a quick pit stop at Boudin at the Wharf, a bakery that has been baking sourdough French bread in San Francisco since the gold rush.

More on San Francisco here, here and here.

July 23, 2014

San Francisco – Chinatown, North Beach & Telegraph Hill

The following day, I briefly visited the Ferry Building and its gourmet marketplace.  Prices were on the high side so it was just a look see look see for me J.

 The “Grand Nave” on the second floor of the building

Next, I took a walk around Chinatown, stopping for a quick visit to the Old St. Mary’s Cathedral, the first Catholic cathedral in San Francisco.

The Chinatown Gateway Arch 

 Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s statue at St. Mary’s Square

 Senior Chinese citizens whiling their time away at St. Mary’s Square

Old St. Mary's Cathedral

I headed to North Beach next.  Originally the Latin Quarter, it is now known as San Francisco’s Little Italy with dozens of Italian restaurants and coffeehouses.

Transamerica Pyramid – San Francisco’s tallest building 

 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco’s answer to New York’s Times Square, complete with strip clubs and peep shows, interspersed by countless restaurants and clubs

The Washington Square is one of the oldest parks in the city and the Saints Peter and Paul Church, the neighbourhood’s religious centre, is located here.

From here, I climbed the scenic steps of Filbert Street up to the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill to take in the panoramic views of the city and the bay.

View of the Alcatraz from Coit Tower

More on San Francisco here, here and here.

July 21, 2014

San Francisco – Cable Car, Lombard Street & Alcatraz

I had the good fortune to be able to travel to San Francisco for work recently and managed to do some sightseeing after my conference was over.

First thing to do was to catch the cable car from the turnaround at Market and Powell Streets.

The ride started with a steep climb up Nob Hill for an amazing view of the bay.

I alighted near Lombard Street to check out the famous winding stretch of the street.

The brick-lined street zigzags around the residences’ bright flower gardens

It was quite a long walk all the way to FIsherman’s Wharf to catch the ferry to Alcatraz Island (aka The Rock), San Francisco’s famous abandoned prison.  The ride itself offered great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city.

Once on the island, an audio tour took visitors through the cellblocks and offerred snippets of the prison’s historic past and some of its infamous inmates.

Recreation yard – the yard offered rare freedom of movement, association and choice.  Some inmates chose to play baseball or run laps.  Others simply walked to the top of the bleachers and looked out at what they were missing.

Isolation cells or “The Treatment Unit” – reserved for unusually dangerous or violent inmates.  Men received adequate food and health care but was confined to their cells 24 hours a day.

The dining hall – the food was some of the best in the federal prison system, and guards and inmates ate the same meals. 

The prison's hospital

More on San Francisco here, here and here.