And so here we were in San Francisco!
Our hotel, Park 55, was just in the centre, in Union Square, it is rather luxury, but we had found a very good offer on the Internet, there was also the valet parking. We reached our room, and then went out to have dinner in a typical American diner (the atmosphere reminds us of Happy Days!)
For the next day, we had booked a tour with a tourist bus, we had a ticket for all the day and we could hop on and off as we liked. The city is charming, in my opinion one of the most beautiful I have ever seen; but it ddidn’t seem to be in july, the weather was ugly: there was a thickfog (we never managed to see Golden Gate from the city) and it was really cold… no more than 11 degrees! Our guide told us that in July it is always like that, and that famous writer Mark Twain wrote a sentence about San Francisco; “The coldest winter I have ever had was a summer in San Francisco”!
There are not many skyscrapers, nor they are very tall, but the city is really smart. We saw a lot of homeless asleep on the ground or on benches, but don’t worry, because they are completely harmless! We were never bothered by them!
First stop: China Town! It is the biggest Chinese community outside Asia, and the most ancient in the United States. You enter it passing under a huge arch, made like a pagoda, then you can walk along a very long street decorated with paper lanterns, and on both sides there are shops of any kind! It is very suggestive!
Then we took our bus again and we got off at Fisherman’s Wharf. It is an area that attracts lots of tourists because there are shops, restaurants and other attractions, among which Pier 39, from which you can see sea lions. We walked among the crowd, but it was rather noisy, so we stopped for a drink at Hard Rock Cafè (where we bought a couple of T-shirts) and then we went to Pier 33 where ferries to Alcatraz start! And here I have to make a suggestion: if you want to visit it, book your tickets largely in advance because tickets are easily sold out and you can’t go there without them. While we were waiting to get on board, we were approached by several people who wanted to buy our tickets at a bigger price than we had paid for. I Must say manuel was really thinking of selling them, but how could we miss this visit?
The view of San Francisco from ther sea is wonderful, but it was getting colder and colder. What can I tell you about it? It is exciting but also frightening. We visited the prison, the cells, and the isolation cells, the area where the prisoners washed themselves, and the courtyard where they spent an hour everyday.
If you have seen the film “Escape from Alcatraz” you can undertand how the atmosphere in the prison was; and for us it was an exciting experience to see the set of the movie and the place where Al Capone was kept prisoner for many years!
We went back by boat and, as we were hungry, we decided to stop at “Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co“. It is a chain of restaurants serving fish, but especially shrimps, and it takes inspiration from the film Forrest Gump. We ate very well and the atmosphere is quite lovely, with Forrest’s most famous quotazions written on the walls. We decided to come back again before leaving!
For our second day in San Francisco we had planned to go to Golden gate. The weather hadn’t improved, it was still cold and it was raining… at last we saw Golden Gate, the bridge that for a long time has been the biggest suspended bridge in the world. In spite losing this record, it keeps a very special charm. And then, what a surprise! As soon as we got out the city, the weather changed, the fog disappeared and a very warm sun came out!
When we came back from our trip, we decided to go back to the Fisherman’s Wharf; we wander watching at shops, we meet street artist and we have lunch again that area. Then Manuel wanted to go to the centre for a little shopping and when we were tired we had a very different dinner: just in Union Square there is the Cheesecake Factory, that (as its name suggests) offers a wide range of cheesecake.
We stayed in san Francisco only for a couple of days, and we were very sorry we had to leave…; but there are still a lot of things to be seen, our trip is only at the beginning!