For the last leg of our journey, we headed to San Francisco. You don’t actually need to wear flowers in your hair as Scott Mackenzie suggested but should you want to then nobody would mind.
For those who regularly follow this blog you will know I am a child of the 60s, and we brought our daughter up with the same free spirit attitude to life. Dreams are meant to be dreamt and hopefully come true. So it’s hardly surprising that after hearing us extol San Fran for so many years, this was to be a highlight for Kate as well as a time for Jim and me to reflect on our own youth. If I’m honest, San Francisco isn’t anything like you imagine. Some bits are much better and some bits worse. It is sad to see so many homeless people, many with mental issues in this land of plenty. Nevertheless, if you can overlook that aspect then San Francisco is probably one of the most welcoming cities in the US. It has soul as well as character, it has a free spirited vibe and embodies the old hippy, laid back attitude, making it stands out from the rest.
An important stop was the Golden Gate Bridge on the first occasion the weather was lovely, we could wander round the bridge taking in the views of the skyline and the magnificent harbour.
On the second visit, the weather wasn’t as kind. Sadly that was on an open-top bus and I have never been so cold, especially when the fog came rolling in often obscuring the entire bridge from view!
Naturally, we took in Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Garden.
We shopped around Union Square (which was close to where we were staying – just four blocks). There is a cable car turnaround near Union Square. It is kind of neat to see the cars turned around by the passengers even though there is no discount for doing it. 🙂 The only consolation is if you don’t turn the car round you won’t be going anywhere – so better get on with it!
We took the bus uphill through Chinatown and saw Lombard Street, America’s crookedest street, the Bay Bridge.
We walk along The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Fisherman’s Wharf is tacky, it is full of tourists and seafood restaurants, but you know you are going to go anyway and of course, you have to have a large cup of delicious clam chowder and sourdough. After stopping in the Hard Rock, we sashayed down the side to Pier 39. There were boats floating weightless on the sea, seagulls flying in the cloudy sky, and most of all, sea lions, barking and chilling on the wharf. They have been there since the 1980s and look like staying for a long time to come, unlike the ‘Painted Ladies’. The residents of the pink and red, green, ochre, eclectic houses have petitioned for so long that their homes are no longer part of the main tourist attractions.
Finally, a place Kate couldn´t wait to see Haight-Ashbury. The neighbourhood is a throwback to vintage times. Old record stores mingle with modern boutiques, cafes and restaurants sit side by side with the homes of the once famous, like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
For some reason, San Francisco resonated with the three of us so much. Just to utter the name made us smile. However, it was finally time to “Hit the road, Jack”.
I started this road trip with a quote from Jack Kerouac, so I will end with one from another favourite, John Steinbeck“People don’t take trips, trips take people” and this trip took us on a wonderful journey.