We’d already decided we liked San Francisco by yesterday evening – the smiles seemed broader here than other parts of California, and the city streets seemed a lot more relaxed and less ‘mean’ than LA. Even the cops don’t seem as if they’re going to bite your head off if you look at them. A real contrast to LA, where the average cop tries to look as mean as possible, and caused us to give them a wide berth if they were on the street. When we passed a bunch of motorcycle cops having a coffee in downtown LA, it looked like a group of shaven Hells Angels, and their mean stares were chilling.
We got up late and walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf – the main tourist trap in town. Okay, it was full of tourists, and it had loads of tacky, tacky shops, but we enjoyed the walk around, and we saw the sea lions at the end of Pier 39, and the girls loved that, and the T-shirt shops. Then it was off to Macys in Union Square to find them new shoes. Since we’ve been travelling they both seem to have been growing fast, especially their feet. And that meant a trip on the cable cars (slow, noisy, but what a way to get around).
And after a successful shopping interlude, Sarah went off to get her hair coloured and cut (the first time since we’ve been traveling), while the girls and I did some more tourist stuff. Another cable car ride, an ice cream, walking up and down some steep streets – oh and the windy street that everybody knows. It turned out to be rush hour there, with lots of cars coming down, each one with a driver gripping the wheel hard and the passenger holding a camcorder. It turned out to be one of those things that’s probably better on a film or video than in real life (didn’t Sandra Bullock jump a bus down it in Speed?), but we’ve been there, seen that and got the photo.
So San Francisco is definitely a nice place as far as we’re concerned. We love its temperature (cool), it’s people (smiley) and it’s ambience (relaxed). We love the public transport – it’s not just full of the poor and the nutters (unlike LA). And after the rest of the US seeming so soulless, its got a character. We were planning to stay for 3 days, but we’ve just extended our hotel so that we can stay for 5. We’ve also bought the SF City Pass tickets, which for $36 gives us a 7-day bus & cable car pass, and free entry to the California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, the Legion of Honor (Rubens, Rembrandt, Seurat, Degas, Picasso and ‘The Thinker’ from Rodin), the Exploratorium (the Science Museum on steroids), a Bay cruise (under the bridge and around Alcatraz) and the SF Museum of Modern Art. Well, we can try and get our money’s worth, and I’m sure some of those will cover quite a few of the National Curriculum things Charlotte’s class will be doing this year (“Rembrandt – a genius or what? Discuss”).