Friday, July 6, 2012

Sitting on the dock of the bay

I picked up my friend Sam on Monday night in San Francisco.  He is joining me for two weeks of the road trip, starting in San Fran.  We stayed south of the city in a hotel by the airport and took BART into the city both days.  For the most part, the system was convenient, cheap and clean.  I would highly recommend to others to stay outside the city and use BART to get in.

Tuesday, we started off at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or SFMOMA (we regularly entertained ourselves by trying to pronounce all the acronyms that began with SF).  Pretty cool exhibits and we caught it on a free entrance day.  We then walked around in SOMA (south of Market) neighborhood.  I love the architecture in San Fran.  There are several large public works buildings that are amazing (City Hall, for example), but the real beauty is in all the private buildings, houses, and stores.  Each building is unique with its own diverse style.  We ended up down in the Mission neighborhood, where we toured the Delores Mission, which is the oldest building in San Francisco, built in the late 1600s and surviving multiple earthquakes.  We then walked around the Haight and Castro before heading back to our hotel.

That evening, we drove over the San Mateo Bridge (huge bridge which crosses the Bay well south of the city) to Oakland for the Red Sox-Athletics game.  The Colosseum is a dump of a stadium, but the game was exciting.  The A's scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th to win it in dramatic fashion.  The scary part of the game occurred when a fly ball rocketed to our section (behind home plate and under the upperdeck awning) and hit an older gentleman in the temple.  He was hurting pretty bad, but seemed like he would be fine.

After the game, we decided to drive across the double-decker Bay Bridge (we were on the top level) into San Francisco.  The city was empty at 11 pm on a Tuesday night and we drove all around the hills of San Francisco.  Some of those hills are insane.  It felt like the car would topple over backwards going up the steep hills.  We managed to find Lombard Street and drive down the crookedest street in America.  Finally, we drove down along Fisherman's Wharf before heading back to the hotel.

We got a late start on the 4th of July but made it into the city by 1.  We took a cable car (still awesome) over the hill to Ghiradelli Square.  After lunch at an Irish pub, we rented some bikes to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.  At this point, I should mention how HUGE the Golden Gate Bridge is.  It is a gigantic, monstrous, enormous structure.  Which means, it doesn't look that far from Fisherman's Wharf.  I figured I could bike there easily along the mostly flat route.  I clearly underestimated how badly out of shape I am in.  Although I had to stop often (sometimes taking pictures as an excuse for the rest) and walk the bike up a few of the hills, I managed to make it all the way to Sausalito.  The ride was fantastic (once it was over) and I am really glad that I did it, but I don't know if I'd volunteer to do it again unless I get myself into shape.

Our original plan included taking the ferry back from Sausalito, but there were at least 300 bikes in line for the ferry that we worried it would take 4 hours to get back.  We spotted a cab with a bike rack and split the taxi with the Australian couple in front of us in line.  Once we dropped off the bikes, we walked up and down Fisherman's Wharf.  The road was closed off to traffic and filled to the brim with people celebrating the 4th of July.  Dozens of buskers were performing on the streets and Sam and I were especially captivated by the three English acrobats.  For dinner, we ordered clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl (delicious).

As dusk settled on the city and the wind picked up, we made our way back to Ghiradelli Square to watch the fireworks.  A band played 80s and 90s cover songs before the pyrotechnics started.  The fireworks show was pretty spectacular (much better than San Diego's fiasco) pairing fireworks with patriotic music.  The only real problem was after the show when we realized that there was no public transportation anywhere near where we were.  We hiked (along with everyone else) about 2 miles to the nearest metro station, where we pushed our way onto a train to take us back to San Mateo.  All in all, a long, exhausting, but fun day.

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