On my first evening in San Francisco, I decided to play it safe. I booked myself in for a dinner at the hostel (where I was originally booked in to stay – they share facilities and it’s literally a one minute walk) which turned out to be both cheap and rather satisfying.
Subsistence sorted for the evening, I decided to spend the three and a half hours before dinner getting myself oriented – at present I plan to stay in the city until halfway through the 12th. First priority was picking up the all important California Rail Pass! This is provided by Amtrak, which is in a bit of a weird position: It’s the US’ de facto national rail company, but it remains a privately owned corporation… that the US Government owns a majority stake in. It balances these positions a bit precariously by allowing both freight and passenger trains on its tracks – but under the caveat that freight always gets priority over track usage, so passengers trains can be delayed at any given time.
Well, it’s an innovative arrangement, certainly…
Rail woes aside, even in my tired state I really enjoyed looking around San Francisco that evening. It really is a beautiful city – the residential areas are chock-full of beautiful, very well preserved Victorian homes, the ubiquitous cable cars trundle along their hilly tracks and the city centre has some of the most impressive skyscrapers I’ve ever set eyes upon. Despite them both being financial centres with a high population density, the atmosphere feels completely different to London – words fail me as to quite how I can describe it at present, but I’m sure I’ll have something more concrete to say by the end of today.
The Bay Bridge leads to Berkeley and Oakland – I’m tempted to visit Berkeley to visit the UCB campus, but apparently it’s their exam week at present. I wouldn’t want to interrupt those diligent students now, would I…? You might not be able to make it out from the picture, but it’s actually got two layers; all traffic coming into the city goes on the top deck, and there’s a small tunnel underneath it for those heading elsewhere.
After having spent a while on Market Street (San Francisco’s main street, in effect), I moved over to the bay facing inland. After having picked up my California Rail Pass (from, incidentally, the nicest and most helpful ticket guy ever) I decided to put the map down and just head to whatever caught my eye. Hilarity (and getting a bit lost) ensues!
After a bit of wandering along the shoreline, I headed into the city, eventually reaching a long series of steps that led up to Telegraph Hill. When I say a long series, I mean at least 200 (I counted. Traveling solo does odd things to one’s mind…), but it was definitely worth it.
Around halfway up, the pathway became enveloped by flowers and plants of all hues. This photo doesn’t quite do it justice, as it really was an incredible sight – made all the more so by the inexplicably serene silence blanketing the area barely a mile from the financial district! Regrettably I wasn’t able to reach the tower at the very top. Feeling rather foolish, I think I ascended the hill from the wrong side…
After having gotten as far up Telegraph Hill as I could, I noticed my time for the evening was up; dinner was due to start at 7:30, and it was high time I returned. Thankfully a very helpful passerby and two police officers (none of whom I asked for help, but rather came on their own accord) showed me the quickest route back. This was a relief, as by the time I got back it was clear I’d be needing an early night.
And that, as they say, is that! I apologise if my writing style is a bit woolly at present – I’ve never been all that good at being concise and that hasn’t been helped by me not having written any essays for a year. Any feedback is appreciated. Now I’m off for today’s japes; to, amongst other places, the Golden Gate Bridge!