Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The two faces of San Francisco

We had an almost perfect day in San Francisco yesterday - 17C, clear blue skies and no fog!! -- normally unheard of in mid-winter!!! We had very calm seas and good weather on our way northwards from Acapulco, so we were hopeful of a clear arrival into San Francisco which is very well known for it's heavy fogs - especially at this time of year. We arrived early and were tied up at 6.30 AM before the sun rose. We had been warned that it would take us a long time to get clearance from the infamous US Border Control and Immigration authorities who insist on a personal and individual eye-to-eye meeting with every passenger. Fortunately, this was all VERY well organised by the ship and proceeded smoothly and easily - so it only took 4 hours for all to be cleared and for us to get off the ship!!! Fortunately, we also had a late departure of 9PM, so it allowed plenty of shoretime for us. Anybody considering cruising in the future should be of a calm and placid nature with lots of patience - especially those considering cruising to the US! I had a list of "iconic" things that I wanted to see/do in San Francisco - and was pleased to achieve two of them within the first hour of arrival - seeing the sea lions at Pier 39 and eating Clam chowder in a Sourdough bread bowl at the famous Boudin Sourdough bread bakery at Fishermans Wharf. This was washed down by me with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We enjoyed it so much that we later had a toasted Crab cake sandwich at the same place - washed down, once again by me, by an Anchor Steam Porter. The relevance of these two beers will, I am sure, be understood by those who know about beer. Yum!We then bought ourself a day pass to allow us to ride the famous Cable car network (3 lines) - and the lesser known Heritage electric Streetcar line (F line). The cable cars go over the very steep hills and are great fun - the drivers and brakemen are obviously employed for their "character". We were amused by the way in which the cable car stops are in the flat areas right across the cross-streets, which block all other
traffic. We also enjoyed the heritage streetcars (otherwise known to Aussies as Trams) - they have a huge collection of these from right around the world including Australia - but we especially enjoyed the very large pre-WW2 ones from the US - we have never seen trams so large. Now -about my reference to the two faces of San Francisco. When we first arrived and wandered around the touristy area of Fisherman's Wharf and
took the cable car ride to "Nob Hill", we thought that the city was very clean and "nice". However, as we got closer to the downtown area of the city and went even further to the very end of the F streetcar line, we
became more and more amazed at the number of homeless/street people/beggars. We have seen western street people before - in European cities, London, Canada and even Sydney -- BUT we have never seen as many as we saw in San Francisco. We have no idea of the reason for this - but it was certainly enough to alarm us and to change our idea of what the city is all about. I think that we would still like to return to
California/San Francisco for a longer visit in the future - but we would have to rethink some things.

Next port - Honolulu

1 comment:

  1. Yep, San Francisco can be pretty scary if you go to the wrong places!