Thursday, 25 August 2011


Scott McKenzie once said that if you ever go to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair and this classic place surely takes you to decades past with it's peaceful vibe. If you want to get away from the rat race and the stress of the hustle and bustle then this is the city for you. A modern place that isn't behind the times but yet has a 60's feel, you'll fall in love with this warm, friendly, embracing and welcoming town the moment you get there. So let's take a minute.

Don't waste a second in this sensational city but take your time and relax as you take in everything. Just walking by the sea of this place on the Californian coast makes the most of your future memories. The beautiful boardwalk and serene perfect ports really take you away as the Bay Area really is all encompassing in this Golden State. Speaking of Oakland as you walk by the shore in the distance you can see the beautiful bridge that will take you there. Before you walk any further however don't forget the attractive, appealing Pier 39, or the favourite Fisherman's Wharf, which still functions as a tourist destination and a place to reel in the customers. Above all though it's simple but meaningful elements of community and beauty really add colour and character to this city.

Walking across the Golden Gate bridge in the day or driving across at night is a real inspiring and beautiful trip. The grand design of this red iron structure is truly remarkable, it's little wonder this single bit of road has been used in countless cinematic moments in many big-budget blockbusters (most recently it was taken over by the 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' but don't worry it's just a film). With the misty, awe-inspiring atmosphere and the most perfect view of the Pacific, words don't do this unforgettable, magical experience justice. You will literally have to see it for yourself, but trust me it's well worth the price of admission for this holiday. The Golden Gate bridge stands as one of the brightest gateways and one of the greatest things you'll ever see or do. This American landmark really is one of the realest wonders of the world.

If you want to see more American landmarks that have made for some massive Hollywood blockbusters why not head to 'The Rock' or Alcatraz as it is more commonly known. This famous former prison famously homed Al Capone and a Clint Eastwood movie ('Escape From Alcatraz') amongst others. Even as you head down on a boat amongst the eerie mist and creepy, 'Shutter Island' esque atmosphere you almost feel like a prisoner yourself and you'd really feel it if it wasn't for the choppy ride over. Today the jail stands as a relic and a brilliant piece of history. As you make your way round this prison, you can feel what it's like to be behind bars and even hear stories of some infamous escapes or attempts at escape. You be the judge, but see for yourself one of the most strangest/intriguing places in the world. One of such interest that it draws 1.5 million visitors per every 365 days. Plus from the penitentiary you can really catch an incredible view of the city.

As you take the boat back and head back downtown you can delve into the depths of the brilliant view from the sea. The Financial District of San Fran affords some of the best buildings you'll see like the 1925 Pacbell building that really stands the test of time but nothing stand out more than the perfectly perplexing, transfixing Transamerica Pyramid building in all its architectural creativity and beauty. If you head down California street you can really see the economical effects of the California Gold Rush, but if your really want to mine the best nuggets out of this city then you have to walk or better yet drive down the famous, iconic hilly streets of this town. This is where this place really shines, especially with the classic, vintage, cable car trams that take you on a real trip down this town. Drivers beware however, you are not Steve McQueen and this is not 'Bullitt' (or any other of the many more movies inspired by this place). Your speeding tickets or cars chassis can not take your best impression.

The mix of modern and Victorian architecture give this place the perfect big city/small town feeling mix while the beautiful descending row of houses really gives this city an uprising and warm feel. Still, however unless your couch surfing you may want to find yourself some accommodation and from the Edwardian hotel, the aptly named 'Good' hotel and the 'Hi' hostels you ll be hard-pressed not to find somewhere and some place so welcoming. Plus from Bar Jules, to the Sweet Sugar Lounge and the Millennium Restaurant and Zuni Cafe there are plenty of places for your food and drink needs, wants and desires. In the core of the city you can find everything from shopping to dining in the unifying Union Square. An area which is cool, calm and also doubles up as a really great outside library, complete with fountains and views pouring with character and charm. So bring a book and take a load off. This city is made for relaxing too.

Don't stay too long chopping it up in coffee houses however as talk all you want because there is so much more to see in San Francisco. From Chinatown to Japantown, the bold Baker Beach, the grace of Golden Gate Park and the awesome Aquatic Park. The famous Silicon Valley is worth processing, while the Pacific Heights will really take you higher. Or add the classic City Hall and the traditional Ferry Building which is just classic California all over. Still if you've had enough of the sights how about some entertainment. There are lots of great gigs and music venues here like Annie's Music club. Or how about some sports? Where the 49er's of the NFL and the Giants of baseball make for some legendary sports franchises and memorable evenings out and tourist experiences. Or if you like to relax a bit more, why not hit the links on the Harding Park Golf Course? A beautiful green that's PGA approved.

Take a trip to the incredible twin peaks and you can really see all this city has to offer and take a photographic memory opportunity of everything you've traversed during your San Francisco chronicles. This place is rich in history and culture and from the majestic museums to the pretty, pretty nice people you have to take it all in. One trip isn't enough but you really have to make the most of a place you'll want to see again and again. With a cool climate, with just enough Summer breeze too you can really feel the atmosphere of this bright and beautiful place. The legendary crooner Tony Bennett left his heart in this city and this towns so loving you just may find his or even yours here. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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