USA: San Francisco – A City in Bay I
I gave myself a four-day vacation in San Francisco in the middle of my two-year au-pair stay in the US. Everyone, who ever was there, never said anything except superlatives and mentioned the difference between east coast and west coast cities.
Anyone who go to San Francisco wants to return there again and again. It was the best time to see it when I was on a long-term stay in US.
When you go from New York to San Francisco it means you have to fly over the whole United States, which takes 8 hours of flight with a stopover in Chicago. We had flight over three time zones and moved from the eastern part of the US to the western; from the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific. The flight took the same time as the flight from Europe to the US.
San Francisco is the main center of culture in north California and in the area of San Francisco Bay. It is the 14th largest city and the densest city right after New York. Except many other characteristics, they say the city is the most beautiful city in the world; many would doubt it, however, I understood the meaning of these words when I got in San Francisco. The major difference between the east and west of the US is indeed major. New York and other eastern cities are located on flat land, on the other hand San Francisco is located on hills; the city center is not that unclean and overcrowded as Manhattan, there are lots of green areas, parks, palms, sea etc. … It is entire new city, different from those I was used to until then; it was without skyscrapers, omnipresent noise, it was more European. Roads cross city on hilly terrain; you have to just get on top (beat some hills is really hard) to enjoy a magnificent view of surroundings. I bit regret that I didn’t have opportunity to drive a car in San Francisco. Still, the city is really beautiful and I now I fully understand why there is such demand for au-pair stays in San Francisco and why one has to wait even months until she gets her host family. Weather (in May) was really splendid and the sun shone every day. The only tiny problem was strong wind coming from the Pacific.
The dark side of the city represent its unseen number of homeless. There are vast numbers of them in streets, parks and it is no exception if you see a mattress or temporary shed right in the middle of a pavement. Except other American cities, the San Francisco officials are tolerant to homeless and they don’t restrict them.
We were accommodated in a hotel which was located right in the city center; the price was affordable and the location of hotel was great for we had no problem to get anywhere by walk.
On the next day morning we went to a harbor to take pictures of the most popular of the San Francisco symbols – the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison. We walked on a beach and indeed we intended to dip our legs in the Pacific for the water was really cold in May. Then we moved from the harbor on a boat trip around San Francisco; we had a guide with us. We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the island where Alcatraz prison is located (today it no longer operates but it is a very popular attraction among tourists); also we had a beautiful view of the city from different angles and it was sublime. After lunch we went to the aforementioned Golden Gate. The ride was long but along the road were beautiful parks and streets with colorful houses. Many articles were written about the Golden Gate Bridge already as well as many documentaries shot. According to me there is no one who wouldn’t know the 2,700 meters bridge with typical orange color you know from movies, advertisements, photos of America etc. It connects San Francisco with the district of Marin. Mostly drivers use the bridge (over 100 thousand cars daily cross the bridge) and a pathway on one side is designed for tourists and (unfortunately) suicides as well. We crossed it on both sides and on our way back we climbed one of its towers, waited for sundown and enjoyed a beautiful view of the bridge. Unfortunately, when they turned on lights the illumination wasn’t as good as we knew it from advertisements and movies…
To be continued...
Text: Pavlína Rouhová
Photo: Wikimedia.commons: jjron, Basil D Soufi, Christian Mehlführer, Daniel Schwen, Bill Ebbesen, Debivort, SamuelWantman, Wikih101
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