Tree Hugging....

Trip Start Jun 29, 2010
Trip End Apr 07, 2012

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Back on the bus..again...

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, August 2, 2010

The day started again with some free pancakes, this time cooked by Annabelle (they were bigger ones than yesterday)!

We had booked a tour of the city with Green Dream Tours, an independent tour operator recommended by the hostel. The main reasons this appealed to us were that firstly we had done no real research on San Fran at all, so apart from Alcatraz did not have a clue where we were going.  Secondly we have found that bus tours of cities have been the best way to get a grip on a place and start to understand the various areas, thirdly we had been talking about trying to see Great Redwood Trees at some point on the trip and this would tick that box and finally we are lazy and the idea of a bus to take us everywhere and make things easier appealed to us immediately!

Green Dream is a business operated by a guy called Elie.  He drives a rather quirky bus that runs on used vegetable oil collected from local restaurants.  As we are huge fans of all local restaurants we knew we were onto a winner.  The tour was a real bargain – 6 hours for a cool $44 each!  We were picked up at our hostel at 9.30am – and spent 30 minutes collecting the other 12 passengers.  We have realised we are quite unlucky with bus tours ... we had a group of 6 middle aged women who talked through the whole tour and a few of them even fell asleep.  Apart from that the tour was great and we covered a lot of ground and learnt some interesting facts.  As is our style – here are a few of the facts that tickled our fancy.

San Francisco;

-  Portsmouth Square was the original centre of the city back in 1834 when the population was less than 100 people.

-  Before the California Gold rush, in 1848 the population of SF was 400 people.  By 1852 when the rush was in full swing, the population had risen to 35,000.

- Most of  SF is built on landfill – the material came from the abandoned wooden ships in the bay area during the gold rush

-  SF is a very recycling conscious city – recycling is required by law with a goal of 100% of trash away from landfill.  Currently the rate is 72%.

-  SF was the birthplace of Levi's Jeans.  The story is that there was a huge demand from the gold miners for strong more durable clothes.  Levi Strauss (a German immigrant) sourced some material used for tents from Nimes in France (de Nimes hence where the name Denim comes from). 

-  We saw the City Hall where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married back in 1954.  DiMaggio (one of the greatest Baseball players of all time) was a local and grew up in SF.

-   We passed Galileo High School where a certain Mr. OJ Simpson was educated.

-  We drove to Lombard Street – 'the world’s crookedest street’ – originally it had a gradient of 27% but in 1922 this was reduced to 16% to allow cars to drive down.  There are 8 turns in the space of 412.  We were very excited here, but it turns out, Vermont Street on the other side of town is more crooked, with 6 turns in 270 feet. 

- We visited Fishermans Wharf, and saw Pier 39 – a huge tourist trap but quite fun to look at. 

-  We passed the Marina is a very exclusive place to live – the houses were incredible.  We learned that they were  built on landfill from the 1906 earthquake meaning that they are the most at risk properties in the city of there was to be another quake – a risk the rich are clearly willing to take. 

-  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge – the symbol of SF.  It was completed in 1937 and was the world’s longest suspension bridge.  From the water, it is 850 feet high, 90 feet wide and 1 long.  It cost $27 million and 11 lives to build.  The bridge is continuously pained year round – the colour is not gold as you would assume but international orange. 

-  On the other side of the Bridge was Muir Woods.  This was the highlight of our trip to SF.  Here, the Woods were home to the ancient Redwood trees, that are up to 1000 years old.  Some of the tallest and widest trees in the world were here – most growing up to 252 feet tall and 14 feet wide. We had great fun wandering around taking lots of size related pictures. 

- The final leg of the journey covered The Castro; the heart of SF’s gay community and Haight-Ashbury; the centre of the summer of love back in 1967 and the Seven Sisters; a row of 7 gorgeous Victorian houses that are flanked by the city’s skyline – a great view of old meets new.  On our visit, we found out that one of the end houses was up for sale.  It’s up for a cool $4 million – a little out of our price range, but honestly even if we could cover it we wouldn’t. Can’t think of anything worse than groups of tourists staring at our house all day every day!!! 

Our time in San Francisco has been rather chilly and very foggy – which has been a pleasant change from the baking sun of Nevada, but we heard a famous quote that sums up the weather here

‘The coldest winter I ever saw, was the summer I spent in San Francisco.’   Mark Twain.

At the end of the trip we got dropped off back at the hostel where to they had kindly agreed to let us use all of the facilities until we left, after a brief stop at the supermarket across the road, we headed back to the hostel kitchen to cook our dinner and also sort out some blogs and photo’s.  Annabelle made a fantastic (and rather large) pasta meal with lashings of cheese on the top. We then had a free shower and prepared to head back to the Transbay Bus Terminal to pick up our second leg of the trip.  Upon arrival at the station we met a few new people who were filling in the gaps of the 15 people who had already left us.  It was actually strangely exciting as the 20 or so people who we already knew exchanged stories of the weekend and what they had seen and been doing and it was really nice to see them again – like a family reunion.  We jumped back on the bus and headed out of San Francisco toward our first truck stop with the new crew, then performed the so called ‘miracle’ and headed off into the night....
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Kerry on

I really want to go back to San Francisco! Your blog has reminded me what a fantastic time Stephen and I had there x

ricardo philipo on

surely you had a ride on one of SF's cable cars. being told off by the brake man for jumping on and off is an essential SF experience.

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