Downtown San Francisco

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Aug 16, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, February 27, 2006

Promising ourselves an early start after yesterdays slightly wasted day, the alarm went off at 7.30am. We sprung out of bed (at 10am!) and headed straight into the centre of the city.

Sadly the weatherman wasn't fallible and had predicted the weather exactly right, there were grey skies overhead all day and they soon deposited the heavy rain that had been promised on us. Although to be honest, after a month without any rain of note it was almost pleasant to see some (providing that I was in the warm and dry of the car!).

We drove into downtown San Francisco and then Lynne directed us around a scenic route called "The 49". This city is different from any other place that we've visited so far and is easily our favourite big city that we've been to. I think that part of this is because it doesn't really look like an American town, the roads are curved and you constantly find yourself going up and down the massive hills that San Francisco is famous for. At some points when we went over the brow of a hill, it felt like we were on the first drop of a particularly unpleasant roller coaster.

Despite the worsening weather, we continued around the scenic route, bravely venturing out into the rain at various points to take photos. At one hilly viewpoint, we were able to see the whole of downtown, the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. Although I'm not sure any of them looked particularly nice in the torrential rain that we were taking shots in by this point. With me not being able to shake the thought that it would have all looked a lot nicer if we'd have been here in the sunshine yesterday.

After driving through a huge park in the centre of San Francisco, where we were forced to grudgingly admire the dedication of the countless joggers, dog walkers and cyclists that we passed (and tried to splash in the big puddles with our car, ok we didn't really!). The rain was seriously heavy by now, so we decided to pull over and visit a massive art gallery called "The Legion of Honor".

There were quite a few famous paintings on show, including ones by Picasso, Monet and Rembrant, there were also sculptures by Renoir. The most interesting exhibit to me was a series of photographs taken in 1906, after a huge earthquake and fire and hit the city. These were placed next to photographs that had been taken from identical spots in 2004. Some of the areas were so completely devastated after the earthquake in 1906, that all you could see left was the lay out of the road system, all the buildings were in ruins. Yet looking at the photos from 2004, you wouldn't have even been able to tell that there had been an earthquake, the regeneration of these areas was amazing.

In some cases they were able to save some of the historic buildings, but a higher number that were still standing in some form or another had to be pulled down and sadly they had been replaced with far less beautiful structures. Still overall San Francisco is a nice looking place, a lot of their houses follow the slopes of the hills and they like to paint them bright colours. Certainly this is a place that I think I would like to visit again in the future and spend more time here.

Tomorrow more rain is promised and we've booked to visit Alcatraz, who knows we may even come across that man we saw being arrested at our hotel a few nights ago!
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