It’s time to say goodbye to ‘Stangy’ today. He’s been my faithful companion on this road trip, and he hasn’t even once criticised my driving; so I’m sad to part ways.I am however glad that I will not be engaging in any driving whilst in the city as everyone here is bonkers, and there’s about 10 lanes of traffic on the freeway. Not my favourite.
I Finally make it back across the bay from Berkley to O’Farrell Street after missing my exit twice, and say ‘adios amigo’. From there I’m right by Union Square which is just off the main transit terminals here in the city and surrounded by Macy’s, Saks, and a Westfields.
I decide to head up towards Nob Hill, and not fancying the upwards hike (seriously, San Fran is set amongst the steepest hills ever and I grew up on Gorsey Brow!!) I hop a famous wooden trolley car, and clinging on for dear life, make china town my first stop.
I disembark and am met with the mixed smells of citrus from fruit stalls, and dried meats and seafoods from the bigger food stores.
The streets are teeming and restaurants are crammed side by side along every street.
I decide to stop for lunch as I only had coffee at breakfast and my appetite has just caught up with me. I eat dumplings, soup, rice, vegetables and squid, and drink a bucket load of tea.
Next, I walk up to see the beautiful Grace Cathedral and along California, turning into Polk Street.
It’s lined with upmarket thrift stores, coffee houses and frozen yoghurt (yes I had some, okay??) shops which remind me of Clapham North, but with more homeless people.
I walk onwards to Lombard Street. Famous for its zig-zag road. I’ve walked the right way at least, as I get to walk down the steep stairs, whilst everyone else is coming up huffing and puffing (in your face other tourists!!).
It’s a very strange street, and the cars weave down on the steep incline at right angles, and equally angled houses line the walkways.
There’s plenty of people taking photos as I amble on down. I continue on Lombard, and sadly find that it’s looping back up into another hill (seriously San Fran-my calves!!) which I have to take several pit stops whilst wheezing up.
I make it to the top eventually, and I’m in an area called Telegraph Hill, home to Coit Tower.
Coit Tower is a memorial tower to Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an honorary female firefighter and wealthy socialite. At her bequest and with money from her estate, it was built upon her death to beautify the city she loved so much.
It’s a circular tower (think Rapunzel) with a lift that takes you up the thirteen floors to a viewing deck offering 360 panoramic views over the whole of San Francisco. it’s totally worth the deathly climb however as I look out across the bay, spying the bridge over to Berkley, the piers, Alcatraz Island, The Financial District, and of course, getting myself a jaw dropping glimpse of The Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a Loréal moment right there.
There’s no way I fancy the hour walk back with all those hills, so I hop on the trolley once more. This time I do so like a pro, and, bagging myself an outside spot, I hold onto a pole and snap selfies as we traverse the streets.
Once I’m back downtown I indulge in a little light shopping and grab pizza and a few drinks. Apparently they can only serve me one drink at a time however, which is dull for a Friday night (oh how I miss the take out cups of the South-now that’s what a Manc girl could get used to!).
A little boozy, I catch the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to go back across to Berkeley. It’s not the easiest to comprehend and it takes me a good ten minutes to figure out how to buy a ticket. Mission accomplished, and I jump aboard-and am back in Berkeley in under an hour.
I’ve had a great day, but I’m not too sure how I feel about San Fran just yet-I’m still waiting for its personality to jump out at me. However, I’ve still got a good few days more out here in my final stop in the west coast, so I’m waiting to see just whether this bayside city will continue my love affair with California or not.