Sometimes, you build up a thing in your mind so much you are inevitably disappointed by it when you actually see it. It was this way with San Francisco, when I visited California last year. The flight was painless, largely due to the Dublin breakfast, and the final approach over the bay was fairly spectacular. But from there onwards, I was underwhelmed.
I was warned to avoid the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, so I stayed near Union Square, which had all the charisma of a conference/shopping centre. But I managed to explore the neighbouring Mission and Chinatown districts, and take in the delights of the Museum of Modern Art. All places well worth seeing.
A long walk through Haight Ashbury and Golden Gate Park (which isn’t near the bridge, in case you were wondering) takes you to the Pacific Ocean coast. I had never seen the Pacific before, so it was a great new experience. Surprisingly, the water was freezing cold. Okay, it was November, but not what I expected.
Even so, there were surfers in the ocean. I was to see many surfers over the coming days. Apparently, it’s a bit of a thing in California. Who knew?
As well, as walking miles in San Francisco, I had the obligatory Alcatraz visit. I also had a couple of hours to kill in South Beach harbour.
Time was running out, and my impending Highway One road trip was fast approaching. I still hadn’t seen the Golden Gate Bridge, so I picked up my hire car and headed North, over the bridge, stopped for a photo, and then headed back again, to the start of Highway One.