Yesterday I had a bad day. Not that I was lonely or home-sick or anything. Things just didn't go according to plan. And there is nobody to blame but myself.
After spending a couple of days exploring San Francisco, which I will detail more later, I got up at 05:30 to make my way to SFO. Having misread the sign on the air shuttle and getting off at the wrong terminal, I spent ages trying to find the US Airways check-in desk. Eventually I realised my error, and rushed to the correct terminal, only to find that I still couldn't check-in. The computer was telling me that it couldn't find a reservation for me, and when the assistant too informed me that he couldn't find me I feared the worst. About 10 minutes later he confirmed that I was a day early for my flight. I truly have lost track of days and times!
A little embarrassed, I looked on the positive side, and saw it as an opportunity to see a bit more of the city. And it could have been worse. I could have been a day late, and I would never live that down with my family.
At the hotel I found a leaflet for trips to Muir Woods, a major Redwood forest across the bay. Seizing the opportunity I made my way into the city, only to read the fine print on the leaflet stating that tours needed to be booked in advance. A day in Golden Gate park would have to do instead.
Rather than giving a day by day account of my time in the city, which would not only be boring, but also predictable (and we know that's not me) I'll follow with some photos and a brief description of each. They say that a picture paints a thousand words, so here are 20 of my most interesting, which should save 20,000 words or thereabouts!
These pictures show some of the cable cars which transverse the city. I knew from previous photos that I've seen of San Francisco that the city was hilly (that picture of the cable cars that Chris had at the top of our rather steep stairway in Birmingham gave me a daily reminder), but I didn't realise just how undulating it is. And they really didn't make any attempt to flatten any of it, just built perfectly perpendicular streets right across the hills. The ride was a bit hair-raising, but probably just about worth the 5 dollar charge.
The cable car went right past Lombardy Street, the 'crookedest street in the world'. Some 750,000 cars a year wait in line to make the 5-mph decent down it, with it's 9 hairpin bends and the gradient of 27 per cent.
From the last section of the cable car journey you could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge across the bay. I took this as an opportunity to start taking photos, and didn't stop for about 3 hours.
Another example of how steep the streets are can be seen from this photo.
From the top of Coit tower I got these pictures of the city. Patrick, you'll be glad to know that yet again I made it to the top of a very tall building, but this time the lift went most of the way, and there were only 37 steps to climb at the end. No In Bruges moments this time! Unfortunately all the windows had glass in them so there is a little bit of glare.
Pier 39 is San Francisco's own attempt at a pleasure beach. Slightly less tacky than the English equivalent though and definitely worth it for the views of the Sea Lions that have made it their home since the earthquake of 1989. During the winter as many as 600 can be seen in the dock.
Alamo square is very cute, and features in many of the postcards of the city. The quaint 7-sisters Victorian houses combine with the downtown skyscrapers to make a perfect picture.
And finally, golden gate park was even better than anticipated, though I was disappointed that the bison in the bison paddock were not roaming freely and available for photos. The rest of the park though made up for the very long walk and at least the geese were willing to pose.