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San Francisco San Francisco

14th May 2010

Golden Gate Park and Coit Tower

Panoramic View of San Francisco and the Bay Area from Coit Tower      (please use scroll bar)

    Today I decided to knuckle down and sort out my telecommunications packages that I will require in the States. Having ascertained that a lot of mobile phone operators had booths in Powell Mall, I headed off down there. Amazingly it didn't open till 10am! Once inside I rotated amongst the various suppliers until I found the best deal and bought into it. I was at the same time alarmed to find that no providers offer pay-as-you-go mobile broadband. They only work on contracts which was neither use nor ornament to me. Thus I will have to rely on WiFi connectivity during my trip. The daft salesman left the security tag attached to the packaging, so I was setting alarms off every where I walked into. I soon spotted the problem and got it rectified. With the phone I quickly established contact with my son Dan and with Don, my vehicle contact in Seattle. Having proven I had national and international connectivity, I was a happy bunny.
   Whilst in the mall I took the opportunity to buy some more clothes. A lot of my baggage limit was taken up with walking gear, so I had predecided I'd buy clothes over here and will probably end up giving them to the "homeless people" when I finally leave. The clothes store had changing rooms that were large, wooden cubicles, 5m tall with a full length 5m mirror. Obviously designed for giants. With the early onset of shopping boredom, I headed to Macy's Cheesecake Factory. The food was excellent here, I recommend it. What I also came across in this restaurant was a 2.5% tax for the Healthy San Francisco Initiative. There is no national health in the States, but several cities have taken the lead in going some way to form their own to provide some cover for those who can't afford it, and this is San Francisco's way of going about it. It is becoming more widespread in the city as more restaurants and retail outfits sign up to it.
De Young Museum
Academy of Science
Japanese Tea Garden
   I then took an alternative tour using the combo ticket I bought yesterday (good value for money those tickets). This tour headed across to the 3 mile by 0.5 mile Golden Gate Park, in which we drove past the De Young Museum, the Music Concourse, the Academy of Science and the Japanese Tea Garden. The exterior of the De Young Museum is clad in copper sheets, the aim being natural oxidation of the copper would blend the building into the park's surroundings. The Japanese Tea Garden was the devoted work of generations of the Hagiwara family, who returned from WWII Japanese American internment camps to discover their prized bonsai had been sold. The family tracked down the trees over two decades, and returned the bonsai grove to its rightful home.
Victorian 'Painted Ladies'
   The return journey was via the Haight, and the piece de resistance of this was the sudden surprise at Alamo Square when everybody's eyes first caught sight of the Victorian 'Painted Ladies'. In the photo, the green building at the left of the six 'Ladies' was up for sale at �3M.
   After the tour I decided to traipse right over Nob Hill and Russian Hill; extremely good for the calf muscles. I took in the Crookedest Street on Lombard. This 27 degree incline used to be the cause of many accidents. By deliberately introducing speed curves, the speed is reduced to snail pace, but now the accident rate is non-existent.

Transamerica Pyramid
Crookedest Street on Lombard
Coit Tower in the Background
   Coit Tower was an obvious target after the Crookedest Street, simply because it was just a continuation along Lombard Street. The climb up Lombard was quite strenuous though. At the top of the tower, spectacular views were to be had across the city and bay. Coit Tower came about through the eccentric Ms Lillie Hancock Coit, who left a fortune to build it. Perhaps the real gem of the tower is the collection of radical 1930s murals inside the tower, depicting Californian work scenes of the day.
Christopher Columbus and Coit Tower
   Leaving Coit Tower, I wound my way along Columbus with its myriad of Italian eating establishments. Along the way I made a detour into Chinatown. Having identified a restaurant bursting with Chinese customers, I settled down to a tasty and filling meal. The quantities were over the top, and the price ridiculously cheap. One of the Chinese staff kept me entertained. He had lots of pre-cooked chickens and ducks hanging up in front of him, as well as what looked like half a pig. Some customers would come in and just ask this man for some pork, or a chicken, and the Chinese man would simply and cleverly butcher the meat before their eyes, put a ladle or two of sauce onto the meat if requested, and that was effectively a takeaway. I was impressed with the skill and efficiency of how he cut and chopped the meat. Chinatown is huge, indeed this is the second largest Chinese community outside of China, the largest being in New York. I was too whacked to explore this area, so I just headed back to creature comforts.

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Uploaded from Adante Hotel, San Francisco on 17/05/10 at 15:35 PST

Last updated 7.6.2010