Is SF the most beautiful city in the world?

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, October 31, 2008

With the car stocked full of great Californian wines we headed to cultural city of San Francisco in weather that was worsening by the minute. By the time we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to enter San Francisco it was bucketing down with rain and visibility was reduced to only a few meters.

I was particularly exited to get to San Francisco since I heard it was on of the most beautiful cities in the world. When we started this trip I decided to have an open mind and take each city we travelled to on its merits and only after seeing the all the top contenders then make an informed decision.

What didn't help my assessment while visiting San Francisco was two solid days of rain we experienced, but we weren't going to let that deter us from exploring the city and having a great time. One of the top attractions in the SF area is what is called the 49 mile drive which is route that has been set out by the Downtown Association way back in1938 to guide visitor around the cities top attractions. The route could easily be driven in one day but to appreciate many of the attractions you'll need to park the car and explore on foot. Even in the pouring rain we could see that some of the sights were well worth a visit in good weather and were a little disappointed that we were stuck in the car.

The drive took us along the waterfront leading towards the Golden Gate Bridge and then through the Golden Gate National Park before veering off to the beaches....

Our visit to SF coincided with Halloween a pastime we as South Africans and Kiwi knew little about and on recommendation by friends we were told that a real treat in Halloween was to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that's exactly what we did. Apparently it's not unusual for the audience to dress in costumes for the show but it seemed that for Halloween most of the audience were going to extra effort. Some of the costumes were brilliant from Joe the plumber with his crack and all to a Sarah Palin look alike, to various characters from the show amongst many other creative costumes. We really had no excuse for not getting dressed up as one guy's costume was simply a long sleeved shirt, no pants nor socks.

What we didn't realise about the show was that audience participation is a large part of the show and many verbal abuse to the characters was encouraged. Many of the audience knew the words of the play off by heart and would often scream out questions and make rude comments about the characters which caused much laughter. Apparently in the old days it was also normal for the audience to throw rice and toast at the stage but nowadays it is sadly discouraged. The show was a hoot and the whole Halloween vibe made it even more enjoyable. Well done to Inge-Marie for organising

To get a closer view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz we arranged a sailing tour of the harbour area and luckily the rain let up long enough for us to have a dry cruise. The views were fantastic even though the top of the bridge was hidden in mist but every now and then the clouds would dissipate and give us a full view of the gigantic bridge. Even sailing past Alcatraz was quite cool when you think of all the high profile prisoners who called this home. I always imagined the prison island to be much further from shore which would have deterred any escape, but it seems it's not the distance that will potentially drown any attempted escapees, but rather the raging currents that flow past the island. You could literally see the water boiling as the currents swept around the island.

On out last evening in town Inge-Marie booked us tickets to a classic San Francisco theatre production called Beach Blanket Babylon. The show is a San Francisco legend and is a combination of dance, singing, comedy and outrageous costumes - mostly in the form of headwear. Some of the hats paraded around were 3m tall and included famous buildings in SF to full Halloween themed pageant hats that were bigger and taller than the actors. The show was hilarious and made fun of just about every celebrity and politician and well worth the ticked price. Sadly no photo's were allowed.

Same old story, three days in SF weren't enough especially when two of the days were rained out. We did still get a very good idea of what the city had to offer. The views of San Francisco where stunning and made for a real outdoors city, the cities history is still very evident with the old cable car trams still running up and down the cities steep hills and the beautiful architecture preserved in its many beautiful old buildings. And with out a doubt SF as enough cultural activities to keep you busy for months. But from a pure natural beauty point of view I'd still have to say Cape Town would rank as my choice as most beautiful city, followed by Sydney and then San Francisco! Maybe I'll change my mind on a return visit....
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