The Last (big) City - San Francisco

San Francisco is a major city in California, the centerpiece of the Bay Area, well-known for its liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. These are only a few of the aspects of the city that make San Francisco one of the most visited cities in the world. -- WikiTravel

It very well might be one of the most visited cities, but it was the only large city in the US that I have not visited until a couple of weeks ago. I have visited southern California and even spent a few days in the Bay area where I ran my first half marathon in San Jose but San Fran remained on my list for a long time.

With over half a dozen friends moving to the area just last year and with my sister planning on making the move out there soon (she has finally graduated!) I figured it was time for me to see what is all the hype about for myself.

And I liked it!

The City

Something that struck me right away was how non-American the "suburbs" felt. Yes, there is, of course, the downtown area filled with highrise and steel and glass, but just outside of it the architecture transforms into more European-style with two-three story buildings attached to each other. If it was not for non-European wide streets, I could of been fooled into thinking I was back across the pond.

I have mentioned before that Chicago is my favorite "big" city, mostly because of the great downtown. However, the suburbs of Chicago are absolutely nothing to speak about. San Francisco seems to be the opposite and I kept thinking about which one I would prefer, if I had to choose.

And then I was treated to this view at the Dolores Street Park.

Simply spectacular.

Chicago, you better get your game face on!

The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate bridge is probably the most well-known bridge in the world so, similarly to Sydney's landmarks, I dedicated a good portion of my day to finding some good spots to take some good pictures of it.

Arguably, the most amazing views of the bridge are from Marin Highlands to the north of it. From both, right next to the bridge, as well as up on the hilltops you can see the bridge, the downtown and the famous Alcatraz island prison.

While walking around the Highlands, my buddy Chase picked me up and took to another spot on the south side of the bridge to for another view of this amazing structure.


Cable Cars

Of course no trip to San Francisco would be complete without the iconic cable car ride down the hilly streets of the city. However, I would recommend staying away from the "usual" touristy route starting at the Hallidie Plaza. When I got there, the line to board wrapped around and went on and on for at least half an hour wait.

Instead, I walked up the Power Street to the top of the hill where it intersects with California Street and took the California Street cable car (as you can tell, they do not get very creative with route names) down the hills to downtown San Francisco.

In hindsight, it would be wiser to take the California Street cable car UP the hill from downtown and then WALK DOWN Powell street or any other hill up there.

Live and learn, eh?