Monday, September 12, 2011

San Francisco revisited

During the Christmas time in the year 2009, we had a great time with my sister-in-law and her family. At that time both the families decided to meet again on the next year during Christmas. However, due to some unavoidable circumstances, the plan wasn’t realized. At last, they managed to visit us in the month of April in 2011. During their four days visit we went to San Francisco one day, which was as usual for the people who visited their relatives in Bay Area.
On 3rd April, which was eventually a Sunday, we went to visit SFO. Our plan was to depart from home at 8 o’clock in the morning.  We were a little late, though it was negligible. As per our planning we went to Millbrae station to reach SFO by BART train. We got down at Market Street station and caught F tram to reach Fisherman’s Warf. For the first time when my brother-in-law saw the SFO trams he wanted to ride on the same after the tour. By the way, when we reached Fisherman’s Warf the tour was about to start. So,we rushed to the office, and the lady at the counter managed to provide us 5 tickets for the tour. To my family, it was our second visit to SFO. We visited the same place in 2008, when my son was only 2 months old. 

China Town

City Hall - Decorated with real gold

Starting from the Fisherman’s Warf, we first crossed the Italian town. The tour guide jokingly said that three words one should know to survive there: Tiramisu, Saluda, and cappuccino. After that we crossed China Town, the largest Chinese community outside China. China Town was established in the year 1840. Once, my family and I went to China Town before. It was very scary to drive there, so also in in whole SFO. Actually, the city was built on steep hills. It was very frightful to drive on such slanted road for a driver who is unfamiliar with such roads.  Every moment I feared of mishap. Anyway, this time we had no problem as we were in a tour bus. Crossing China Town we reached the financial district of SFO overlooking the Union Square. The main two banks of the USA, Wells Fargo bank and Bank of America originated here. During the California Gold rush they boomed rapidly.

On way to the Twin Peaks

The financial district was marked by cluster of high-rises in California Street. Out tour guide told us that West Coast’s first skyscrapers were built in Market Street. However, when everything was utterly destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent fire in the year of 1906, miraculously those skyscrapers escaped unhurt. From there we passed Lotta Carbtree fountains. In the aftermath of the 1906 fire, on April 18, 5:13 A.M. the living survivors of the quake gathered there for remembrance. Then we crossed City Hall in Civic Center Plaza. That historic landmark was rebuilt after it was destroyed in that fateful quake. That centrally located massive plaza was the scene of huge political rallies. From anti-war protests to gay movement, the plaza stood tall as a witness. Beautifully decorated by sycamore trees, Civic Center was planned by Daniel Burnham. One of the interesting facts was that only 12,000 Victorian houses survived in the massive earthquake in 1906. Anyway, we crossed a beautiful building, which was once a large twelve bedroom mansion.

Seven sisters- Many films had been shot here till date, the most notable was Full House

View from Twin Peaks
Though the outside of the building remained same, inside of the building was converted into apartments. Then we got a chance to view the Twin sister’s house on Scott Street between Waller and Haight, the exactly alike houses were built for twin daughters of a gentleman, whose name I can’t recollect. On the way we passed the famous seven sisters’ house, a cluster of seven houses of six are almost same, except the last one. Here I keen to mention about the house which our tour guide showed was a tiny purple house. The house was built with couple of thousand dollars in the mid 20th century. The astonishing fact about the house was that,when it was sold in the year 2006, the price was nearly a million and half, which was really unimaginable. We also passed the Castro District, famous for gay rights movement, had started under the leadership of Harvey Milk. The rainbow flag was the symbol of gay movement. Anyway, from the top of the Twin Peaks we got a view of Candle Stick Park, an outdoor stadium in the Bay view area. Clock Tower of the Ferry building of SFO looked like the Big Ben in London. Anyway we got down from the bus at the top of the peaks. The vibrant colorful houses on the both sides of the serpentine roads, in the bright cloudless day made the city looking splendid from there. When I came to SFO last time, the weather was very unfavorable. It was very cold, on the top of that it was drizzling compared to this time tranquil and cool weather. Twin peaks, surrounded by green grass and beautiful Lupine flowers, was a place of passing times without boredom. We got an amazing information that, Lupine flower could be two feet long, but we were not lucky enough to see that in our own eye. On the bright day the famous Golden Gate Bridge of SFO was looking truly golden from Twin Peaks. Meanwhile, we were very hungry when we reached there. We literally jumped to the mobile restaurant there to have some hotdogs. While coming back, before reaching Golden gate national park, we passed SFO national Cemetery, which included many famous people’s grave. We again got down from the bus at Golden gate national park, which was one of the world’s largest man-made parks. An art exhibition happened to be going on in the park during that time. My sister-in-law, who is a sculptor, viewed the exhibit with great interest. Lack of time barred us to visit the Japanese garden in the park, despite of my great interest. Moreover my son was sleeping at that time. Again we boarded the bus to reach Golden Gate Bridge. We were fortunate enough to get the entire view of the bridge, which usually remained hidden behind the cloud throughout the year, independent of weather.

Golden Gate Bridge

The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was opened in 1937, which was built on Pacific Ocean. We didn’t have any plan to go to Alcatraz Prison. I personally didn’t like to visit as it was depressing to me. We got a chance to view two beaches from Golden Gate Bridge, Baker’s beach, and China beach, while we were coming back. China beach named after the history of Chinese fishermen, who camped there in past. Though our tour-guide showed us the Russian Consulate and Danielle Steel’s fifty-five bedroom mansion, but we couldn’t locate them from the bus. Before getting down at fisherman’s Warf we saw an old cannery which was converted into a shopping mall.

The Cannery converted into Shopping mall


Ghirardelli Square

After getting down we decided to go to Ghirardelli Square, and Crooked Street, which were not included in our bus tour. Ghirardelli Square, a landmark with shops and restaurants, was established by Domigo Ghirardelli in the year 1893. He purchased the block and developed famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

Famous Crooked Street

 We spent some time there with coffee, ice-cream, and chocolates. We also received customary free chocolates. Then we started walking towards Lombard Street which was eventually known as Crooked Street. I was very enthusiast this time, as I didn’t get chance to see the street last time. We walked all the way uphill, which was very exhausting.
My little son agreed to sit in his stroller, so we were able to walk. Otherwise it was an impossible job to carry him in arms. Our toil was not in vein, we got a spellbound view of the street. I was really amazed to think, how the residents there drive and park their cars. Then again we went back to Fisherman’s Warf to taste crab-cakes from the street side seafood stalls. My brother-in-law desperately wanted to take ride in famous SFO trams. He was very disappointed, as everybody was exhausted enough to fall asleep there at that time, so we decided to come back home.

Another attraction of SFO-touring in the city in this taxi

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