Monday, March 25, 2013


So I don't usually like these must see lists because the only thing you really must see is what you're interested in. And the minute something goes onto a list on the internet it's no longer a secret place. Obviously the best places are the ones we stumble upon ourselves, just strolling around but if you want to know what you shouldn't miss out on, here's a start.

The best thing about San Francisco is of course the Pacific. I don't think I could ever like a city that isn't by the sea. While Frisco isn't your typical beach, you know you'll always have spectacular sunsets here every day. 

1. Alcatraz

There's a certain eeriness to this windswept island. You know that some terrible things have happened here and in the clear light of day with pretty flowers nodding in the sea breeze you can ignore it, but you can't really shake off the feeling that this was once a dark and horrific place. It's worth visiting, simply to understand what it must have been like, and the audio tour presents the story from the point of view of the prison guards. Although I was a little disappointed that no one really describes anything about the Native American movement to reclaim Alcatraz.

2. Grace Cathedral

The doors are a copy of Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise and inside are several stunningly beautiful stained glass windows. On the floor within is a labyrinth, again a copy from a medieval church in France. Walking in the labyrinth is meant to induce a meditative state but the place is usually buzzing with tourists and most tour operators don't really give anyone enough time to look around, let alone meditate. 

3. City Lights Bookstore

It's a bookstore. Must I really provide other reasons? The founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was instrumental in publishing Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems which sparked a nationwide debate on obscenity and freedom of speech.

4. Lombard Street

A street with eight sharp turns, Lombard Street is one of the crookedest streets in the world and probably a nightmare to drive down. I wonder what would happen if I took my bicycle up there.

5. Palace of Fine Arts

The structure is meant to look like the ruins of a Greek temple, originally constructed for the 1915 Panama - Pacific Exposition. It was reconstructed 50 years later. To be honest, it made me feel a little cheated, like I was being sold a piece of history which was in fact just a modern construction. But if you put that aside and just see it for what it is, a beautiful building with a lagoon, it's a nice peaceful place.

6. Alamo Square

What I love the most about San Francisco - the Victorian houses. Each one is different from the others in some way, and they're all so colourful and sculptural. And of course, they remind me of Full House :)

7. Golden Gate Bridge

Apart from the obvious (it's ORANGE) the Golden Gate bridge is a remarkable feat of engineering, especially since it was one of the early suspension bridges to be build over such a long distance and has stood the test of time (and seismic activity). There's something reassuring about it... That no matter how wide or how deep the chasm, people can find a way to get across.

8. The Cable Car System

While I haven't ever had much fascination for cable cars, I think it's nice that they evoke the memory of someone who invested a lot of time, effort and money into having them built because he witnessed an unfortunate incident. I like that these cable cars are proof that people can be moved by what they see to make a positive change that helps society, while most others simply shrug their shoulders and walk on.

9. Powell and Market Street

Time to go shopping!!!!

10. Sausalito 

Don't be fooled. You're not in Europe and this isn't an idyllic fishing village. But it does a good job of appearing to be like one. It's a beautiful, quiet place that will remind you that you need to get a higher paying job if you want a house in a place like that. A much higher paying job. Probably 2 or 3 in fact. But I guess it's enough to just spend time in such places and know that they do exist.

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