For a long time I have wanted to visit California, especially San Francisco and LA, mostly thanks to the Punk Rock band Rancid, who sing about the locations around their home a lot. So when my flight back to Canada went via this city, I couldn’t resist booking an extra long stopover and having a look. I was not disappointed.
I arrived late into the city, my flight was delayed due to the smoke from the wildfires further up the state, so my time was pushed from the start – I had one afternoon to see as much as I could. I was happy to see the train from the airport went through Daly City (there’s a song about that), and then continued into the city. I hopped out in a busy area found my hostel, dropped my bags and made a plan of attack.
The very helpful girl at the desk suggested heading straight down the main street (Market Street if you’re interested) all the way to bottom, and then swinging around North and along the harbour side and all the way along until I got the Golden Gate Bridge. So that’s what I did. I took a trolly/tram/street car down, staring out the window as I went trying to take in as much as possible, as far as Fisherman’s Wharf where I hopped out. The Wharf itself didn’t have much to see, just lots of places selling crab. I wasn’t too hungry, so passed on what must be the local dish of choice as the area was packed with people. Instead I found an antique arcade, the Musée Mécanique, that was very interesting to wander through, and amazingly good value too, with many of the games and displays only asking for a couple quarters to play. Much better value than the modern machines that’s for sure, even if some of them were a bit janky and odd.
From there it’s actually quite a walk over to the bridge, I’m sure anyone who’s been before will be laughing at me for what was a rather silly idea, but it was a lovely walk, and I got to experience some of the very interesting architecture that California has to offer. From Mexican/Spanish influenced haciendas, European mountain region chateaus and some pretty impressive and horrendous efforts at other styles. It was strange to see some many styles all along one stretch of road. Marina Boulevard is the strip to check out if you’re curious, designers with a bit of money behind them trying to create something authentic. Most interesting though, is how there is no originality, it’s all so strongly influenced there don’t appear to be any ‘normal’ houses at all. With all the outcry about cultural appropriation I have to wonder if only certain ethnicities are allowed to live in the correctly designed home.
The walk is a bit of a long one, but it also leads through a couple of parks, and eventually down to the shore edge where you can walk along the beach with the bridge growing ever closer with each step. I really appreciated seeing it like this, it’s an impressive construction and I think it’s best viewed from river level, looking across to Lime Point. By this time, the sun had well set, and having watched the bridge as a smudge in the smoke, to backlit by the orange glow of the sun, and finally as I reached it in the dark of night, with a touch of the infamous SF fog it really made me appreciate that view. From the base you can climb up to the road level, and get some more nice views.
By this time it was pretty chilly and I was keen to hop a bus back towards the hostel. It was nice rolling through the various neighbourhoods, seeing the slight differences and how alive some were. It might seem a little segregated, but I feel each area was welcoming in it’s own way. I’m sure there’s a few that aren’t so friendly, but my rose tinted glasses chose to ignore those, or maybe I was just lucky enough to dodge them. Finally I needed to get some food, and a luckily placed burger joint did me proud.
I took a flight out early the next morning, I had to get to Canada in time to get to work, but I left wishing I could’ve stayed longer. I feel it is a place I could for some time and be very happy, lots of live music and the ocean and a good neighbourhood vibe. I recommend taking a look sometime