Friday, February 18, 2011

Off To San Francisco: A Foggy City By The Bay

Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown. The city is also a principal banking and finance center, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions, helping to make San Francisco eighteenth place in the world's top producing cities, ninth in the United States, and fifteenth place in the top twenty Global Financial Centers.

San Francisco is famous for its hills. There are more than 50 hills within city limits. Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill. San Francisco is considered the second hilliest city in the world, next to La Paz, Bolivia.
Tourism is the backbone of the San Francisco economy. Its frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. It is the city where Tony Bennett "left his heart."
Many tourists are fooled by the claim that it is always pleasant in San Francisco, for when they come here they realize it is very cold, and immediately fall into the trap of the jacket/ sweater/ coat shops that mainly thrive on such tourist's ignorance. So it always makes sense to travel with a good jacket with a hood/ light sweater or coat.
Looking for the best hotel deals in the Internet would give you some very good hotels in the most central area from where you can just walk to many places of interest or use the public transportation for the city is small and all tourists sites are close together. Like I have said before it helps to plan your trip at least 3 months in advance so that you can really get good affordable deals especially when you are travelling by yourself and not through some conducted tours. Believe me, by planning your own trip, you not only save a lot of money, but also end up seeing a lot more, when you are on your own, and at your own pace.

 Like many other cities, San Francisco is best visited on foot for this is the only way you'll truly get to appreciate its beautiful architecture.  It is an amazing place to walk around, we walked everywhere! No two streets are the same and that is the beauty.  We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe walking around. This way you also get an idea where you can find good food to eat. The weather too was really good, we were there in September last year.

Please avoid eating in any of the seedy restaurants at the Fisherman's Wharf. Also to get the true feel of the iconic landmark the Golden Bridge, stroll the sidewalk, even if you only go out a little way, and also make it a point to see it during  the night too.

Ferry Building Marketplace is a people's marketplace serving residents and travelers alike.

Located within the historic Ferry Building at the foot of the Market Street, shops large and small celebrate food in all its forms, offering everything from artisan cheeses to the freshest of local fish.
Restaurants and cafes serve cuisine representing the quality and cultural diversity of San Francisco's best chefs.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is located along the Embarcadero at the foot of the Market Street. It is the center of a transit hub that connects all of SF's neighborhoods and the surrounding bay communities. The market place is accessible by MUNI, BART, and Ferry Boat.
Inside the cable car
Off we go to see the Golden Gate Bridge     
One of the best ways to see San Francisco is from the waters of San Francisco Bay. There are many companies offering harbor tours of varying durations and prices they and all provide marvelous views of the bay, the bridges, the island of Alcatraz and the city.  A typical harbor tour will circle the island at a slow crawl, giving you plenty of opportunity to photograph the now-inactive prison from the water.
The view is simply superb

The Golden Gate Bridge: When the Golden Gate Bridge was first built in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge ever built in the world. It is currently the second longest suspension bridge in the United States and the ninth longest in the world. Even though it’s not the longest anymore, it’s still the most beautiful!
The bridge was built because it was necessary to create a transportation link between the North Bay and the city. At the time, the only way to get between the two areas was by ferry. Although it’s still possible to ferry between the areas today, most people find it more practical to travel across the bridge. Before the bridge was built, San Francisco’s national growth rate was smaller than average because it was just too inconvenient to get in and out of the city. The bridge succeeded in helping to grow the city. It also became a symbol that defines the city.
The Golden Gate Bridge design echoes an Art Deco Theme. Wide, vertical ribbing on the horizontal tower bracing accents the sun's light on the bridge.
Irving Morrow- an architect hired by Strauss to design a architectural treatment for the bridge- chose the 'international orange' paint color to blend with the setting while still being visible to ships.
At the completion of his mighty bridge, Joseph Strauss, penned an impressive ode which he entitled " The Mighty Task Is Done";  it epitomizes his personal travail in building the bridge.
These lines gives evidence of the dedication of the man who brought the bridge from his brain, heart as well as his drawing board:

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun;
The Bridge looms mountain high

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride
Throughout all time to be.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers.
Yet ne'er its course was stayed.
But ask of those who met the foe,
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.
High overhead its light shall gleam,
Far, far below life's restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow.....

As the bridge was ready to open, his hands trembling, Strauss spoke in a low voice: "This bridge needs neither praise, eulogy nor encomium. It speaks for itself. We who have labored long are grateful. What Nature rent asunder long ago, man has joined today . . . ."
When you are travelling towards the the Bridge it is too windy, and very cold but once you return back it becomes absolutely still and more pleasant. Even on a sunny day the bay can be chilly, so be sure to bring a sweater as well as sun screen and also Sun glass.
One cannot help taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. 

Passing below the Golden Gate Bridge

Foggy SF

Alcatraz : it was not conceived as a facility for rehabilitation. It was a place for total punishment and minimum privilege. And those who survived it often did so at the cost of their sanity.... and some believe their souls.
There is lot more to see like the Golden Gate Bridge during the night, the China Town, the Union Square and many more, which I would definitely share with everyone in my next blog. 
Tell me was the trip interesting enough?


  1. You are right, its easy to think SF is as pleasant as the bay area but it can get real chilly. Tell me why did you not like the restaurants at the Wharf?

    Regarding your comment on the high heels, you work your way through the length starting shorter ones. With the silhouettes I don't wear it when I know I have to walk a lot. I can dance in them, but not walk too long.

  2. some lovely photographs here (an my list of places to see is increasing)

  3. You are a wonderful story teller, Rama and San Fransisco is as pretty as you describe! Well, tell us! Did you visit the corner of Haight-Ashbury? are the flower-children still there?

  4. I love SF. I have been there multiple times and I loved it.

    Excellent writeup you provided.

  5. Geeta: I have always worn heels but only medium size,I have tried going gradually as you have said yet, I fear that I might end up falling and twisting my ankles, and you know how long it takes for an ankle sprain to heal. I guess it should come naturally to flaunt a high heel.
    I somehow found the restaurants not up to my liking, and I was also advised by the locals not to try eating there. There are some really good places to eat, though I don't remember the names now. Being a vegetarian has its own problems.

    Haddock: yes like all Indians I too had a list of places I would like to see and saw it. Thanks for appreciating the pictures, coming from an excellent photographer like yourself: it feels good.

    Jerry: Some of places are there in SF where the buses don't arrive in their expected time, because of which we were delayed, and even taxis don't come when called so we had to skip Haight- Asbury, though I have read the flower - children are very much there. I have also read the lyrics, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair", inspired thousands of young people from all over the world to travel to San Francisco, sometimes wearing flowers in their hair and distributing flowers to passersby, earning them the name, "Flower children". Now probably they would be more commercialised, so i think we might not have really missed seeing them.


  6. you have written an excellent travelogue

  7. Never been there before, but feels now like I know the place thanks to your travelogue!

  8. That was fun! Thanks for sharing your travels. It's lovely to see places through your eyes.

  9. RGB: Even I used to feel as if I have visited all these places having seen them so many times featured in Travel Channels, but it really feels different when you see them in person. I am sure you would really enjoy yourself when you see them all at some point of your life.

    Maundering mutterer: Glad to hear from you after a long time and also glad that you had fun traveling with me.

  10. Loved the pix. You are looking great too.

  11. Beautifully described- love your narration

  12. Great description of your SF trip. These are some very cool pictures. :)

  13. Shucita: Thanks for liking it. It is more for myself that I jot down whatever I can remember of my various trips.We see so many places, and we soon also forget them if we don't immediately document them. I like to write them and come back to read them and relive my experiences.
    Neena: Thanks for your compliment.
    Nancy:How are you?
    I am glad you enjoyed reading my travelogue.
    Talha: Thanks. I am sure you too would visit these place with your wife and post cooler pictures.

  14. A wonderful travelogue Rama. Love the Golden Gate Bridge. Well written for our pleasure.

  15. Hello!
    I agree all these comments!
    Very beautiful post!

  16. @Rama ,very interesting travelogue.Nice write up.I agree with you to that ,people often tend to forget their jackets and end up buying one here.The lined up jackets across the pier are really tempting to even those who have many.We ended up buying a few there.Also true that Sfo ,being in bay area (supposed to be a pleasant weather ,especially to people coming from east coast of the US)is indeed deceiving and people end up shivering with cold.I remember the first time we went there,it was so damn freezing at Lombard street.

  17. beautiful narration for a beautiful city
    nice pics.

  18. It is rightfully called foggy city! The best part is the Golden Gate bridge. At any given points of time, it never looks the same. Sometimes, it is clearly seen. Sometimes, it is obscured by fogs! But at any point of time, breathless. :)

  19. You revived my loving memories of the place and time with my son though this post..did you miss crooked street in the post? That is one place that inspired me to paint with its intricate angles and designs!

  20. Thanks: Chez, Amin, Raji, sm, Nona and Padmaja.
    Raji: I can't believe you fell for the jackets.
    Nona:It was quite sunny that day, no fog also, though very windy, and we could really enjoy the whole day.
    Padmaja: I wouldn't miss Lombard street for anything. Though the pictures are just okay.

    You must take a picture of that painting of yours and post it in your blog. I would love to see it.

  21. I love SFO. I lived in Bay Area for almost 2 years, so SFO was a favorite haunt. It feels so nostalgic to think back of those days. You have written a great, detailed account of the city here.

  22. wowza rama! you are so lucky to be visiting all these places.

  23. Hello Rama,

    Very enchanting trip to an exotic place on earth.Your lovely narration and lovely photos did perfect justification to this marvelous place.I enjoyed this post very much.

  24. good travelogue including your visit to the "haunted Island". Nice to know the Strauss' ode after the completion of suspended bridge..

  25. very nice pic's dear... good blog

    Everyone Visit Plz....
    Lyrics Mantra
    Music Bol

  26. waowww //beautiful beautiful place...

  27. Thank You very much for Your beautiful comments in my blog!

  28. Hello! You are very kind!!!
    Thank You very much for the comments!

  29. Long time No post we are missing your writings

  30. Hello! I agree with Talha!Hi is right!
    Have a good week-end!!!

  31. Nice description and wonderfully written.I wish to visit this city during my visit to US this year

  32. Nice written and well documented with good pictures, rama! Congratulations!

  33. AH! I went from freezing Buffalo to what I thought would be balmy California. My husband was already in San Fran for the conference and I was to join him. So I packed a summerish wardrobe. OH BOY OH BOY!! That is when I learnt, it is So Cal that is the summer wardrobe and I should have just lugged my Buffalo wardrobe to San Fran. Ha ha ha. But food was so good because there were so many places that catered to vegetarians compared to Buffalo. I am talking about 20 years ago :). Raising kids, making trips to India, I had forgotten about the west coast and I think it is time we made a trip from San Fran to San Diego. Thanks for a great post that brought back wonderful memories.