Spring Break Tour 7: Farewell Golden City

It’s the last day of my journey. I hike the north-east of the city this time. My way leads me from the Tenderloin to Japan Town, from there up the hills of Pacific Heights, down into Chinatown and the North Beach.

The last day of my trip has arrived. I am so pumped with positive energy and joy about what I have seen and experienced, that there is no time to be sad I have to return to Florida. The flight is at night, so I have the full day to spend in the city hiking around. I pack everything and start, today I hit the Tenderloin first, an areal of San Francisco right in the middle of the city, where lots of broken people hang out, yet tolerated by authorities – I decide to not take pictures here while I walk along Hyde Street. It is close to the Mission area where my exploration started yesterday. I have nothing special on my agenda today, just strolling around and see as much as possible of the rest of this awesome city.

From the Tenderloin I reach Japan Town first and continue to walk up the hills of Pacific Heights, another good area for pretty pricey living.

You have a great view from those hills, either to the bay, to Alcatraz or to the center of the city. It’s beautiful! I take some time in Alta Plaza Park, which is not overwhelming but still offers a great view onto Alcatraz. On the other side, towards the inner city, I can observe a big column of smoke, there has to be a big fire somewhere…

From Pacific Heights I walk along Broadway back towards downtown. I have no energy left to make it actually to shore of the bay, to the Marina Blvd, therefore I should have gotten up earlier.

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Soon I hit SFs typical China Town and I decide to get me some decent dinner over here, Peking duck with rice, to go. I quickly eat half of it in the Portsmouth Square Plaza but I really don’t like this area somehow, so I continue the Kearny Street towards the Telegraph Hill.

The Pioneer Park with the well known Coit Tower on top, which is closed due to refurbishment is my last destination. I eat my dinner while I watch the sun going down. It has been a sleepy day today, compared to yesterdays march. Still I made some miles, but the more beautiful areas of SF are surely to be found around Mission, Castro and Haight-Ashbury. At least I was in North Beach, the touristic area of SF, and it is beautiful after all, isn’t it. I return to Oakland and Carl brings me to the airport. If I am totally honest… I’d love to stay in California right away and not go back to Florida, at least for this moment – but on the other hand I am looking forward to see my people in Gainesville, too. It is a great state of the USA, so far the best I have ever experienced and it is worth reconsidering, if a comeback – for longer – would not be an option. Thanks Carl, thanks Californians for your hospitality and the great time! 

Sping Break Tour 7: Hiking San Francisco

Hiking SF is fun. Part 1 of this report is about the route from Mission, to the Mission Dolores Park, through Castro, to the Buena Vista Park, from there into Haight-Ashbury and to the Golden Gate Park. At the evening Carl joins the party and we attend the beach again and for dinner it is Steak Pizza this time. A great day, hiking this great city!

Carl has to work, he leaves early and I sleep a little longer. I need to recover, the last days have been tough. Just one true party night (Vollgas!) on Saturday, but the many miles from San Diego, via L.A. to Vegas and back, along Big Sur, Santa Cruz to San Francisco… All the impressions, the many hours riding the car, all the memories and the fun time spent with him and all the cool people I met along the way… All of that is pretty exhausting, yet very satisfying. It is already one of my best trips I made so far, hands down – maybe together with my Bahamas trip of the past and my last visit to Fehmarn… Now I am on my own, without a car, hiking the city. The way to the Metro which is called BART in SF is quite a bit and on my way I see Oakland. It is not as bad as everyone states, I don’t feel uncomfortable for a single second.

My route for today starts at the BART Station 16th St / Mission. And I explore the Mission district first of all.

I hop into the Dolores Park Cafe for breakfast – it’s already 2:30 p.m. but this still is my breakfast… 🙂 – Espresso for me, like always and a great tart. The Californians are really good in their business doing bakery, nothing to miss here compared with Europe! The barkeeper prepares a cool smoothie, fresh, with some fruits, some veggies and some ice cubes, without adding sugar, puts it all just in a mixer. I tell him “this is cool shit”, he pours me a drink on the house – just another “wtf, how awesome” experience here! Not just because of this experience – Dolores Park Cafe is worth going if you are around, they know what they do! And it’s right besides  Mission Dolores Park, my next aim.

I enjoy the sun and the mild breeze, while I watch the people in the park, the city and some hummingbirds, which flitter around the blossoms of the trees. They are tiny and cute, no chance to catch them on a picture! 

My way leads me into Castro, the gay and lesbian district with all its colorful houses. It is a beautiful district with theaters, fancy cafes and restaurant, and artsy shops. Certainly one of the better areas of San Francisco. On my way, Castro changes smoothly into the hipster district Haight-Ashbury, yet another central and good area of SF. I pass the Buena Vista Park on my way.

When I exit the park, I am in the middle of hipsters paradise. Haight-Ashbury was cool last night, it’s flashy today! All those colors, the cool shops, everything rises my mood, although I don’t have the feeling to be hipster, or is this kind of an indicator?

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It’s late afternoon, around 5:45 p.m. when I hit the Golden Gate Park kind of the “Central Park of San Francisco”, a most beautiful, stretched out piece of green in this over all very green city. It is so big that a baseball field, a polo field and even a golf course find their space…

I leave the park at a certain point because it is getting too dark. Haven’t heard from Carl yet, so I continue to walk towards Ocean Beach and the Great Hwy, along Fulton Street, later I change to Cabrillo Street since there is less traffic. The lighting I get to witness is stunning, no wonder this whole area was baptized “Golden”.

Close to the shore Carl gets me and since we are already there, we decide to go to Oceans Beach again. A good decision, today we witness a wonderful twilight!

And at Carl’s place we prepare some steak pizza (yummy!!!), my visitor’s present for him. Since we are both pretty done, the evening won’t last long as well.

I realize that I will have to leave the next day, so I want to be ready for it, since there is still plenty to see!

Spring Break Tour 7: Epic San Francisco!

The main sights of San Francisco, without entering any museum, just from outlooks are the Golden Gate Bridge, with is without doubt, the island of Alcatraz, the Twin Peaks and the Ocean Beach. Those sights are not easy to reach by foot and you better employ a car. But if you are there time flies by and you will be impressed by the synthesis of man made engineering and nature, which is unique!

Okay, I am there. The final destination of my trip, the mother of freedom within the USA. The Golden Gate Bridge is what I see first. I am embraced! Thousands of people are looking for a space to park their car, to get their share of space for their unique souvenir, a photo. It’s not that easy and it takes time.

Carl picks me up in downtown, it is absolutely great to see him, haven’t seen each other since December 2013 in Innsbruck, the last time when he stopped by before he left to work in San Francisco for two years. He lives in Oakland, this is kind of a suburb to San Francisco and since it is a fight to get back there in the traffic we decide to stay in SF directly and start with a beer of IBK-reunion – Hell YEAH! We hit the bar ZEITGEIST first and it’s crowded as hell. Pitcher time!

We get to know two guys from Cali, can just remember the name of Patrick tho. After four pitchers we decide to continue to another location. We are all quite wasted already and a smell of Sizzurp lies all over the city… For some reasons we are not allowed to access one place, are thrown out of another one and get totally wasted in a third one but the place sucks so we return to the first place and the night ends soon. Somehow Carl and me get back to Oakland, we don’t remember how, but we awake at his place the next morning…

It takes some time to recover but finally we manage to start. In Cali you work a lot and just the weekends are off, OK that is nothing new, but the vacation each year is limited to a maximum of 15 days with not even half the amount of public holidays compared to Austria. Not much if you consider to get around there and all of that getting around takes time. It is weekend and he has not to work so we actually go cruising, first of all to grab an awesome sandwich at the Sandwich Point.

Then we had back to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area close to the Golden Gate Bridge. We spend about one hour there and it is just relaxed after the last night and the view to the city is breathtaking.

We continue to the Marine Headlands (Point Bonita) which are further outside of the bay. On the way I realize that there is lots of green and there are lots of hills or small mountains even, surrounding this city. Must be a paradise for bikers, for surfers anyways and for winter sport enthusiasts if you are willing to drive out to Mt Tahoe. This city has it all!

We return in direction of the city and take another exit directly in front of the bridge, this is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area directly by the bridge. And we meet two nice Cali girls who are willing to take pictures of Carl and me and in return we take pictures of them. Cali has lots of nice and open minded people, who give you a helping hand here and there all the time, I love that!

The timeshift of last night favors our plans to see more sights of the city this day. We head to San Francisco’s main beach, the Ocean Beach at the Pacific. It is huge and beautiful but freezing cold.

And there is still time left before sunset. Since the clouds block the sun totally and it’s cold we decide to drive up to the Twinpeaks to have our next stop. The view from the peaks over the city is unrivaled and we have another beer while the evening wins over the day and the lights pop up in the city.

In Haight-Ashbury we have another stop and there are pretty cool shops. It’s already 10 p.m. but a music store has a DJane giving her best (cool!) and she plays some crazy tunes. We dance a bit, have another beer to the music and decide to head home afterwards.

The day was not too long but we are tired and decide to go home and relax. Carl has to work the next day but it was a great day and we saw a lot and for me it is time to recover from the last days roadtrippin’.

On our way back we make a stopover on Yerba Buena Island, to enjoy one last glimpse onto the city. With the surfing in Santa Cruz in the morning of the day before, IBK-reunion at night, all those wonderful impressions and the great food my most memorable 24 hours of the whole trip! Thank you bro for your hospitality it has been the most fun 24 hours for a long, long time – and remember, PUSH!

Spring Break Tour 6: The way to glorious San Francisco

The trip from Santa Cruz along the coast is in no means inferior to Big Sur. Is it the flashy colors and the high cliffs in Big Sur, that make this place special, it is the green meadows and the flowers, which are everywhere, for the rest of the path to San Francisco. The city itself is majestic and the Golden Gate Bridge a masterpiece of engineering.

It’s already lunch time. I have a great espresso and a lemon tart in one of the plenty small cafes you find in California everywhere. California has, compared to the rest of the USA, quite a strong sense for good and healthy food, you find less fast food restaurants, than in  the other states I visited so far and I really like that. I follow the advice of Cassidy and drive into the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It is a beautiful wood with plenty of big sequoias and since I did not manage to see the Sequoia National Park and good old General Sherman, I am happy to experience the silence and peace of this forest.

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The sequoias over here are certainly nothing compared in height and diameter to the ones of the national park but they are already way of too big for my camera. They are awesome and honorable and all the people I talked with, who told me about the experience within those forests are right, those forests have a soul and you feel it when you are around.

I continue northwards, up the PCH-1. I want to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, before I have to return my rental. And on my way the coastline shows its beauty again! There are  green meadows full of yellow flowers along the hills which reach to the ocean. It is stunning, and that is my personal imaginary picture of Ireland – which I have not visited yet but will for sure.

I have to force me not to stop too often, since the time is running out and I feel stressed for the first time on my trip, stressed because I would love to have more time here, to enjoy this divine landscape – for example while having a picnic. But there is just one goal today and I am also eager to get to San Francisco and meet Carl at night. So I continue…

And as you can imagine, the traffic in San Francisco, when I finally hit it, is bad. Not as bad as in Los Angeles but still no pleasure at all. Good part of the story – I reach my final destination, the Golden Gate Bridge and the beautiful city beneath that, San Francisco.

I manage to sneak into the parking lot right besides the bridge but time before I have to return the rental is too short, to make it to the plateau behind the bridge. After all I am able to return it and I feel relieved. I am in the middle of the city and find a small Diner where I wait for Carl to pick me up. But San Francisco is yet another story to tell… It is too beautiful and too much to just attach it here. And it is one of the most enjoyable cities I have ever visited!