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San Francisco 2011

While living in Los Angeles, it was inevitable I was going to find my way to San Francisco eventually. Everyone thinks Hollywood is the showbiz capital of the world, but I knew better. The San Francisco area is home to many, many celebrities, including fellow Villa fan Tom Hanks, and my personal comedy hero Robin Williams.

It’s also home to legendary movie makers Francis Ford Copolla – of Godfather fame – and George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch is on the outskirts of the city! It’s also home to a thriving indie music scene too. If I had to pick anywhere to live in the USA, this would be the place.

ALCATRAZ ISLAND!
ALCATRAZ ISLAND!

But only if I was super rich. Because boy is it expensive to try and make a life here. Thanks, in huge part, to it being part of the wider Silicon Valley area and awash with dot.com millionaire money! Oh, I also forgot to mention, San Francisco is also home to Starfleet headquarters, and where Benjamin Sisko’s dad runs some kind of cajun/creole restaurant (I think). Look, don’t roast me in the comments for getting that wrong. I always thought the Sisko’s were the least interesting part of DS9 and my brain switched off whenever they were centre of attention. And I can’t be arsed to Google it just for the sake of this post.


BART Train, San Francisco
The BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit) takes me from SFO airport right into the heart of the Bay Area.

Anyway, I decided to spend a long weekend here, flying up from LAX. Despite being in the same US state – California – it still takes 90 minutes by plane! Yes, the Golden State is enormous. Twice the size of Great Britain and going from LA to SF means you’ve only gone about halfway up the coast of California itself. If you drove that journey, you’d be lucky to do it in less than 7 hours. So 90 mins on a budget flight was preferable. Especially as they gave me an upgrade!! #Nice

Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, California.
Stay at the Fairmont Hotel… only $10k a night!!

By the way, did I mention San Francisco is expensive? Well it is. Super crazy expensive! And, as a solo traveller, it didn’t make sense to splash the cash on a central SF hotel. So instead I decided to stay in the nearby city of Oakland and take the BART train into the city every day instead. So I saved a lot of money slumming it a little. Not that I mind slumming it a little and, no matter where I go in the world, I always try and use public transport (cheap) and walk around (free!) when exploring unfamiliar cities. I even got myself a BART card, which is the San Fran equivalent of London’s Oyster.

Wandering around town

San Francisco Trolley
“Clang Clang Clang went the trolley…”
Embarcadero, San Francisco
The Embarcadero running through Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
Mel's Drive In, American Graffiti
The world famous “Mel’s Drive In” as featured in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti” starring Harrison Ford.
Book Passage, San Francisco
Fnarr Fnarr… a cheeky double entendre. “Book Passage”. Geddit??
Hotel California, San Francisco
“Welcome to The Hotel California…” What a nice surprise. Be sure to bring your alibis.
Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, San Francisco
Black Magic – a Voodoo Lounge
The Bay Bridge, San Francisco
The Bay Bridge which connects San Francisco city to Oakland city. More than 4 miles long. The cranes and machinery in this area are said to have inspired George Lucas’s designs for the various droids and machines in Star Wars.
piers at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
The piers at Fisherman’s Wharf in SF. You can see Alameda and Oakland on the other side of the bay.
piers at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
The piers at Fisherman’s Wharf in SF. The cranes and machinery in this area are said to have inspired George Lucas’s designs for the various droids and machines in Star Wars.
The waters at Fisherman's Wharf.
The waters at Fisherman’s Wharf.
San Francisco Spirit, Fisherman's Wharf
The San Francisco Spirit
Pirates Ahoy
Pirates Ahoy!!
Blue Mermaid, San Francisco, California.
The best “chowdah” in town can be enjoyed at the Blue Mermaid at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Ben and Jerry's, San Francisco, California.
Ben and Jerry’s, founded by a pair of hippies, fits in well in a city like San Francisco.
San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts and Exploratorium.
San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts and Exploratorium.
Cable cars, San Francisco
Tourists often queue for more than 3 hours just to take a ride on the Cable Cars!
Golden Gate Theater, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Theater in SF. Currently playing: The Blue Man Group.
Echo and The Bunnymen
Wasn’t expecting to see an advert for Echo and The Bunnymen in the middle of SF!!
Crazy Horse Gentlemen's Club
Wasn’t expecting to see an advert for Echo and The Bunnymen in the middle of SF!!
Galileo Academy of Science and Technology
Galileo Academy of Science and Technology
Hearst Building, San Francisco
The Hearst Building in SF. This is where the evil empire of William Randolph Hearst began.

Finding the Masjid

I have two traditions when I travel. Firstly, I always eat a desi meal, because I love the idea of travelling thousands of miles just to eat Indian food. Secondly, despite not being religious, I always visit a local mosque. Luckily, there’s one right in the heart of San Francisco. Weirdly, it was open yet completely deserted when I finally found it.

Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Welcome to Masjid Noor Al-Islam in the centre of San Francisco.
Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Totally deserted inside… Masjid Noor Al-Islam
Masjid Noor Al-Islam

Golden Gate Bridge

So, yeah, obviously…

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Heading to the Golden Gate Bridge… — at San Francisco, California.
Golden Bridge Café, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Bridge Cafe at Fort Point, on the south side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California.
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California.
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge…
Golden Gate Bridge
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge…
Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge
My first ever view of the Pacific Ocean as I cross over the Golden Gate Bridge…
Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge
My first ever view of the Pacific Ocean as I cross over the Golden Gate Bridge…
Vista Point, Golden Gate Bridge
At Vista Point on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge…
Vista Point, Golden Gate Bridge
At Vista Point on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge… You can just about see Alcatraz.
The Rock, Alcatraz
ALCATRAZ!!
Vista Point, Golden Gate Bridge
At Vista Point on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge…
Vista Point, Golden Gate Bridge
At Vista Point on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge…
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
Vista Point, Golden Gate Bridge
At Vista Point on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge…

Sausalito is a city on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s located in Marin County, which I was told is officially the richest place in the USA!! As you can imagine it’s incredibly clean, quaint and has a hint of New England about it. I actually felt incredibly uncomfortable taking photos there… because I didn’t want to invade the privacy of the super rich. Errrr… yeah, I know. Stupid.


Sausalito, San Francisco, Oakland
Looking South from Sausalito towards San Francisco and Oakland…
Sausalito
The city of Sausalito. I’m told this place has the highest income per person in the whole of the USA!!

Sightseeing in San Fran

San Francisco's famous cable cars
San Francisco’s famous cable cars
San Francisco's famous cable cars
San Francisco’s famous cable cars
San Francisco's famous cable cars
Cable Car Coffee, San Francisco
This is NOT one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars!!
TransAmerica Pyramid
The tallest building in SF. The locals have nicknamed it “Ring Toss for Aliens”.
(aka the TransAmerica Pyramid – the tallest pyramid in the world.)
Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, San Francisco
Presbyterian Church in Chinatown. SF has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. This is the “real” Chinatown, where real Chinese people live and shop. (Most visitors only get to see the tourist version of Chinatown.)
Chinatown, San Francisco
SF has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. This is the “real” Chinatown, where real Chinese people live and shop. (Most people only get to see the tourist version of Chinatown.)
Union Square, San Francisco
Union Square in San Francisco…
Union Square, San Francisco
Union Square in San Francisco… The statue at the top of that column has an interesting story behind it… and the origin of the phrase “Sugar Daddy” comes from the lady who is featured atop this monument.
Union Square, San Francisco
Japantown, San Francisco
Cathedral in Japantown. Yes SF has both a Chinatown AND a Japantown.
Japantown Peace Plaza, San Francisco, California.
The Japantown Peace Plaza.
Peace Pagoda, Japantown
The Peace Pagoda at Japantown Peace Plaza.
City Hall, San Francisco
City Hall, San Francisco. This building is earthquake-proof. How? It is built on castors and during earthquakes it just rolls around a little! 😀
City Hall, San Francisco
City Hall, San Francisco. The gold you see on the dome is REAL Gold. Immediate problem – pigeon poop, spoiling the expensive Gold dome. Solution? They made a nest for a couple of Peregrine Falcons at the top of the dome and they ate all the pigeons!! 😛
Sister Act Cathedral, San Francisco
Does this cathedral look familiar? That’s because it featured in the film Sister Act!
Sister Act Cathedral, San Francisco
Does this cathedral look familiar?
That’s because it featured in the film Sister Act!
Sister Act Cathedral, San Francisco
Does this cathedral look familiar? That’s because it featured in the film Sister Act!
Freemasons, San Francisco
“Dedicated to our Masonic Brethren who died in the cause of Freedom”

The Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies, Seven Sisters, San Francisco
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here. Here you can see the famous “Seven Sisters”
Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California.
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.
Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California.
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.
Painted Ladies, San Francisco
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.
Painted Ladies, San Francisco
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.
Painted Ladies, San Francisco, California.
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.
San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
San Francisco’s world-famous “Painted Ladies”. Victorian Houses decorated in a variety of different colours. There really is some stunning architecture here.

Steep streets of San Francisco

The steep streets of San Francisco
The steep streets of San Francisco.
The steep streets of San Francisco.
The steep streets of San Francisco.
The steep streets of San Francisco.

Goodbye San Francisco

BART train, San Francisco
The BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit) takes me back to SFO as my time in San Francisco comes to an end.
Published inNorth AmericaTravels

One Comment

  1. […] In June 2012, I had to briefly return to San Francisco to negotiate a contract on behalf of my employer. As it happens, negotiations broke down and things didn’t work out. But it was a chance for me to revisit some of the city’s highlights again, and this time I had a newer camera so the pictures came out a little nice than last time. Click here to see details of my first San Francisco visit. […]

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