A Visitor Experiences San Francisco
A Visitor Experiences San Francisco
San Francisco was the destination to entertain my publisher Anita Whelchel. She told me she had been to Los Angeles and New York City on business trips but never San Francisco. Showing a new visitor The City is quite an experience.
Before she came I asked her if she liked to walk. She said yes, not anticipating all the hills. She grew up east of Denver on a cattle ranch — “I’m used to walking a lot on flat land,” she said, “just not hills.” Yes, we walked and also used the city’s transportation system.
After we arrived at our hotel, which is close to Union Square, I introduced her to the Square. Then we went to Chinatown, walking through the Stockton Street tunnel so she could experience the true Chinatown with markets and ducks hanging in windows. Down the hill to Grant Avenue where we perused “tourist” shops, then ate at the Cathey where she gazed at the city from the second floor window.
The next day we bought a cable car pass because cable car tickets are seven dollars now. The all day pass is $20. We started at Powell and Market. I squeezed inside, while Anita hung on for dear life outside throughout the entire ride. “My arms and hands are tired from hanging on so tight,” she said. She had orders to buy at Ghirardelli Square which she did for almost everyone on her list.
Along the waterfront she saw the swimmers in their daily routine, gasping when she realized the water temperature. We walked to Pier 39 to enjoy both the views and sea lions. Boudins was our lunch stop. Doesn’t everyone go there for the clam chowder in the bread bowl? Didn’t want her to miss the Mechanical Museum to the north of the Wharf. I took my children there when it was below the Cliff House years ealier. Our cable car ride took us up Powell to California where we stopped to climb the hill to the Fairmont, Grace Cathedral and walk around Nob Hill.
Tired of carrying her heavy packages, Anita wanted to drop off at the hotel so we walked down Mason — always a challenge. Usually, my challenge in S. F. is walking up Mason to the Fairmont at least once. This time it was only down. Our final Cable Car rides were on the California Street line at which point we decided to make it a day.
Our final city day was a walk to the Ferry Building. She loved the vendors in the building and did a good job of finding delicious sandwiches. She wanted to see AT&T Park so we walked down there amongst the fans streaming along to attend the game. For some strange reason (!) we took the streetcar back to the Wharf for a boat ride under the Golden Gate. I had done this before but this was a first time under the bridge. It gave her a chance at a beautiful Bay view of the city.
After check out the next day, I took her west to Golden Gate Park and the Cliff House. At the Cliff House we visited the National Park building where I pointed out Sutro’s Baths, then found pictures of it in its heyday. In 1956, I was fortunate to visit the Baths when the building still was intact. What an experience in the massive white building towering overhead as we walked through exhibits and then down to the Baths. I can’t remember whether they were still open, but all was spectacular. After it burned and only skeletons of the baths remained, I’d take my children over to hike the premises while I explained how it once looked. What fun to describe to Anita and other visitors that I had seen the original building!
Then it was through the Legion of Honor Museum park, Sea Cliff and the Presidio before entering the Golden Gate Bridge. Anita took her photos of San Francisco on the Marin County side — fortunately on a beautifully clear day. She experienced one more bridge — the San Rafael. Again I had a story to tell — this time about riding the ferry across the bay in the 1950’s before the bridge. Our final stop was in Rio Vista to have lunch at Fosters. She said it reminded her of a place in the Rockies — except Fosters had more African animals.
Taking a person through the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time is a great way to experience the region once more — and appreciate the beauty and excitement we have so close at hand.