First of all, my apologies for the lack of updates recently – I’ve been fairly busy, or otherwise unable to get an internet connection! Now that’s sorted, on with the blog. On Wednesday, having slept quite profusely, I decided it was a good time to see more of the city; what better way to see it than via bicycle? Fortunately there was a bike rental place barely two minutes from my hotel, and after having been given a most helpful introduction to local bike routes and a convenient map, I began my travels for the day – this time aided by pedal power.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure I’ll admit that my first hour or so of cycling was actually pretty stressful. Not only are the roads in San Francisco busy and fast-moving, but many local drivers aren’t particularly cautious. Furthermore, I had tried to be very clever by making my own route to my destination (more on that shortly); what maps don’t tell you is the gradient of roads. San Francisco is a very hilly place, and I ran into slopes too severe for me to cycle up in my jet-lagged state! Fortunately, after some creative adjustments to my route (I walked on the uphill parts, basically) I was able to reach the first stop on my itinerary; Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park is pretty huge – 1017 acres, to be precise. It’s dotted with pleasant bike trails and also it’s own attractions, a number of which I’ll be covering. These extend from the oddly familiar (the Conservatory of Flowers – an intricately built communal greenhouse largely based on the Conservatory at Kew Gardens) to sights altogether more unique. My first stop was the California Academy of Science; a combination between a natural history museum, an aquarium and a planetarium. Wait, keep reading! Whilst I didn’t see the planetarium (I was loathe to pay for anything else after the $30 entry fee…), it was a most impressive institution.
It had the expected array of rather unfortunate killed and stuffed animals, but also a penguin exhibit a simulated rainforest and some exceedingly impressive tanks in the aquarium. For me, the highlight would have to be their reconstruction of a coral reef, complete with panoramic views of a ridiculous number of fish doing what fish do best (which, for the record is swimming around aimlessly).
Still a bit shaken up after my earlier difficulties cycling (including, amongst other things, a somewhat perturbed cement mixer driver…), I decided the best thing to do after taking in all that knowledge from the Academy of Science would be to spend some time contemplating on what I’d learned in the Japanese Tea Garden.
Thankfully this tea garden was free of any trace of tea partiers (the last thing one wants whilst sipping green tea is Glenn Beck yelling about how Jesus hates welfare), and was exceptionally relaxing. Whilst I went for their regular variety, a number of different teas were available and all sounded similarly therapeutic – and to top it all off I got some taiyaki, too (a light pastry that comes with a variety of fillings)!
I was extremely impressed by the tea garden – from the tea house itself to the rest of its grounds, it was a beautifully maintained and exceptionally calming place to be. Just look at these ducks!
My next stop is kind of hard to comprehend, but I’ll try and put it to you in understandable terms. There are these animals, called American Bison. Because they were nearly hunted to extinction, a lot of the remaining ones are being looked after in captivity, to help ensure their survival. So they put them in a paddock.
Still with me? I must’ve caught the Bison Paddock at a bad time, because there were only five in the entire thing. They all looked pretty chilled, too (maybe they’d recently been around the tea garden?). There’s not much to say about this, so instead I pose you this question: What did the large, grazing mammal say to her male child as he left for school?
Moving swiftly on…
Now, a lot of people will tell you the must see attraction in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, others might say Fisherman’s Wharf… I say nay. Instead, trek along the left side of Martin Luther King Boulevard and gaze in wonder at the one, the only:
It existed before Golden Gate Park was established! It’s got a small island in the middle of it! …I wasn’t actually able to take pictures of any mallards on it (though I swear I saw two in the bushes). Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed.
My time in Golden Gate Park was fast drawing to a close – there are some nice art museums located in the park too, but none that caught my attention. However, one thing no-one can miss on their way out is the Dutch Windmill!
And with that, I was gone from the park and gazing upon the Pacific Ocean. This was far from the end of my travels for the day, but it’s certainly the end of this blog post – thanks as always for reading!