I left my heart in San Francisco - 16th September 2011
Tony Bennett has indeed left his heart in San Francisco after donating a cute heart sculpture in Union Square - see photo. We have left many a footprint after spending a fabulous three days walking around the City. Stuart is very fond of SF with this being his third visit and I was really looking forward to experiencing the haunts he has spoken about for many years. I too have now become a fan of this laid back and quirky metropolis.
Crossing the Bay Bridge to be greeted by the spectacular SF skyline was a huge relief after our epic train adventure. We arrived early in the morning so had time to kill before checking in to our motel. We left our luggage with a very happy chappie at Amtrak station who did not charge us because he said we looked like nice people. We then went in search of some porridge for me which I am still eating every morning even though temperatures are now exceeding 90 degrees! What can I say, I am a creature of habit and trust me you need energy to tackle the streets of SF - they are a tad steep. I quickly decided that this was one place I would not be running.
Singing the Blues
Porridge consumed courtesy of Starbucks, we went in search of the Biscuits and Blues club to book our tickets to see Sugar Ray and The Bluetones who were playing that evening. Outside the club we met 'Ken' a big African American guy who was selling our equivalent of the 'Big Issue'. Ken is a massive blues fan and liked to demonstrate this by singing very loudly. His enthusiasm was infectious but I don't think he will be making an appearance on stage any time soon! It was nice to chat to him and we were pleased to give him a few dollars. I have real respect for homeless people who are clearly working hard to change their circumstances and Ken is doing great job at re-building his life. You go Ken!
Next stop was a walk to Fisherman's Wharf which took us through Chinatown and North Beach. Upon arrival I got my first glimpse of Alcatraz and wondered around a few old war ships which were built by the Rosie Riveter gals - yet another impressive example of girl power. We had a nice stroll along the prom, picked up our bags and made our way to our motel which was on Lombard Street - possibly the steepest street in SF!
After a quick forty winks and a much needed shower we put on our glad rags and headed out to let the good times roll. Sugar Ray and The Bluetones did not disappoint. They were all brilliant musicians and knew how to get the crowd a tapping and a whooping. Stuart last visited this club 12 years ago and was very pleased that nothing had changed whatsoever. I particularly enjoyed the keyboard player who was like Ralph from the Muppets and the bass player who looked like a character from the Adam's family. I think Sugar Ray looks a lot like our friend Mr Sandle - remember him the widely acclaimed author mentioned in our earlier blogs!
Parklife - 17th September 2011
After a couple of days of relative inactivity, it was time to really tackle the streets of SF. Our destination was 'The Golden Gate Park'. On route we passed Japan Town and some really impressive buildings which were part of the University of San Francisco. I really like the unique architecture of the houses in SF - Baz I have included a picture - can you build one for when we get back?
All the people, so many people …….. As the sun was shining Golden Gate Park was a hubbub of people, runners, cyclists, dogs, turtles and Bison (sadly we did not get to see any of the latter as we got a wee bit lost but they do live in the park honest!). We enjoyed chilling out in the open air music auditorium and wandering around the beautiful gardens. At the end of the walk we reached Ocean Beach and then started the long climb back home.
At this point I must mention Rachel a blind student who is studying Psychology at the University of SF. She asked for our help to cross the road and we then spent an hour or so chatting with her. She was very taken with Stuart's accent and we enjoyed a lively discussion about British culture, politics and music. Rachel was a lovely person and we wish her well with her studies and goal to become an Educational Psychologist.
Bridge over (non) troubled water - 18th September 2011
Today was the day I had been waiting for. We were finally going to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. It was another really sunny day and we enjoyed a relaxing walk along the seafront to the bridge. It is huge and dominates the skyline. It was an amazing walk across the bridge with spectacular views - although a little hazy. I loved it and Stuart tolerated it and walked very fast not stopping to savour the views in the same way that I did!
We were almost at the end when we were met with a barricade informing us that the rest of the bridge was closed! I was gutted because I was looking forward to wondering around Sausalito and was desperate for a wee! Stuart was gutted because it meant he had to endure the pain once again by turning around and walking back across the bridge. It was still a brilliant experience and did not dampen our spirits too much. We turned around and walked very fast back in search of a toilet!
I am going to end this blog with a little sing along - altogether now……
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me.
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!
The morning fog may chill the air
I don't care!
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco,
Your golden sun will shine for me!