Trip exploring San Francisco
by rufusni on November 14, 2012
Fisherman's Wharf is basically a tourist trap with restaurants trying to lure people in and lots of souvenir shops as well. We spent only about an hour here. We walked about, lots of people and some street performers. In one sense its better than what has happened to many seafront wharfs in many places which have fallen into disrepair due to lack of use. So I suppose that this is as good a use as any. While it is touristy, and I personally wouldn't want to spent much time here, its kind of got that touristy holiday feeling that isn't in other parts of a city. It was busy the day we were there but we managed to get some food for lunch without having to go and sit in a restaurant somewhere - but there are only a few benches and things that you might find to sit down - they want you up moving about spending money and to buy food to sit down in a restaurant. Its somewhere that should be on your list as a tourist to San Francisco but know it is touristy, and so plan accordingly how much time and money you want to spend here. For me two hours would probably be plenty. But then again if I went to San Francicso again for a few days I would go again.
by rufusni on November 12, 2012
While Golden Gate Bridge may be iconic, the Painted Ladies known as the six sisters I instantly recognised from scenes in several series and films. They seem to appear as a backdrop at some stage if the film has a connection to San Francisco. And they provide an interesting contrast in any picture between the history of San Francisco and it development. The six houses in a row were built between 1892 and 1896, and have survived even earthquakes. Apparently their were many similar houses around the city at the time but many have been destroyed such as in earthquakes, and others altered from their original design. And having a row that have been maintained in their original style is unusual apparently as well.Their bright painted colours and details contrast sharply with the modern city skyline behind it which seems mainly to be a palette of greys. Several landmark buildings in the skyline can be made out.There is a small park (Alamo Sqaure) opposite the row and provides a good view of the houses and on across the city. The park isn't all that pretty, but its a green patch in the middle of the city with a decent view. So a fairly good place to sit for a minute.While the view is nice, and kind of cool to see these beautiful painted houses, its not exactly the top of my list to see again in the city. I took a bit of a detour to see them, but there is plenty of parking in the nearby streets to park and get out for a closer look. But its only going to be a quick stop, a few minutes to take a photo and enjoy the view, there is little else to do. There is a reason the houses are known as Postcard Row, they are definitely photogenic, in all their beautiful maintained splendour. But Postcard Row also reflects as much as you are going to see...the same as any picture you've ever seen before of them.
by rufusni on November 11, 2012
The fog had been floating about all morning, and then it cleared so we decided to head over the bridge. We drove across and parked in the car park at the vista point in Marin County. It was incredibly busy, it took a while to get a parking space. There were several tour buses and those hop-on-hop-off tours as well. We could see people cycling and walking across the bridge. We didn't have time that day to do that, but I was hoping to another day, but this to make sure we saw it without fog.It was still a bit hazy so though the skyline of San Francisco was visible it wasn't crystal clear. but you could make out a few of the distinctly shaped landmarks of the skyline. But there was a good view of the bridge. And also you could see the Bay Bridge.Its one of those famed landmarks. That distictive orange-red colour of the bridge, which was the colour used of the original primer to protect the metal. Those two towers with their art deco design standing at either end suspending the roadway across the bay with huge cables. It is symbolic of the city. Show a picture of the bridge and most people will instantly recognise it. So it was nice to see.It was a good view from the Marin County end of the bridge towards the city. There is a patio type viewing dec. But the toilet facilities were lacklustre to say the least and had a huge queue.We drove back over the bridge into the city. You only pay the toll going across the bridge into San Francisco which I found strange. Unfortunetely, I never got the chance to walk or cycle over it...the next day I wasn't feeling well so didn't fancy getting to the middle and the bridge and keeling over. On my way down Route 1 I again drove across the Golden Gate Bridge (which is shared by HIghway 1 and the 101). This time the tower on the Marin County end was visible but San Francisco including the tower on that side was very definitely in the fog. It was rather strange to drive halfway across the bridge and drive into the unknown. There is a toll to drive back across the bridge. But you can walk across one side of the bridge during day light hours, or cycle, as there are plenty of places renting bikes in San Francisco for that purpose alone.Worth the trip to see this iconic bridge. It was also interesting to be there in 2012 as the bridge was celebrating 75 years of its opening. It has stood the test of time well and shows genius in its engineering design. It is impressive to see even if other bridges surpasses its length and height.
by rufusni on November 10, 2012
There are a maze of airport hotels around this one, which is north of the airport. Lets be honest, little really separates them in one sense but there are a myriad of differences as well. Make sure you know the exact name of the hotel and where it is in this conglemation of airport hotels, so that unlike me you don't wrong turns and actually miss the hotel you're supposed to be in, only to have to turn around again. The hotel does have a shuttle but I didn't use it as I stayed the night before an evening flight and wanted to go to the nearby mall to do some shopping before heading home, and so I had kept my rental car. There was a car park, and I didn't have problems getting a parking space, and it was free.I arrived in and the reception staff were welcoming and friendly as they got me check-in. So I headed up the lift, and my room was near the lift - I never like being towards the end of a corridor if I'm staying somewhere on my own. The room itself was fine. Desk and chair. Soft chair and footstool. Flat screen TV. White bedlinen. The beds are supposed to be able to be adjusted whether you prefer soft or firm. I was in a King room. Carpet, curtains, furniture all co-ordinate with terracotas, yellow creams, and cherry coloured wood.The bathroom was fine, nice shower above the bath. Nice toiletries.All in all, nothing to really complain about. But equally nothing that made this hotel standard out from all the chain hotels. But then again you know what you are going to, you know the room will be clean, that you will get a reasonable night's sleep. Its what you want from an airport hotel. But anywhere else this hotel would seem soulless, but here it fits with the whole experience of airport travel. Its standardised. Its fine. Its unexciting. But its a perfectly adequate airport hotel that is above average. But given the number of hotels in the area its worth shopping around...I got a good bargain for this one...but since airport hotels are fairly standard its worth shopping around.
I needed somewhere to stay a bit out of San Francisco to break my onward journey, but wasn't going to be leaving the city until evening time. I had heard this motel was decent from a friend. So I booked it. I'm glad that I printed out directions to it because although Williams is a small town it is on a small side street, and everything seems stranger in the dark. I got off the I-5 no problems but missed the street I needed. Being away from the I-5 and on a side street made this place fairly quiet. Though the surrounding area is a little run down, the motel isn't.The motel is small family run place. It is a cheap place to stay. I arrived and the lady checked me in quickly and efficiently. I got my key and moved my car to in front of my room. This is a single storey motel with outside room doors and car parking outside your door. But even on my own this place felt fairly safe. The grounds of the car park are nicely manicured with plants and a koi pond. There is also a small pool but I arrived too late and left too early to make use of it.I thought the room was pretty cozy - the motel has been renovated and updated. So the rooms are clean and crispy looking with a pleasant colour scheme and white bedlinen. Fair enough the room is smaller than many hotel chains would be, but for a night to lay your head down for a few hours on a long drive what do you want. And the bed was very comfortable!The bathroom was small with just a shower, but it was clean. Decent water pressure in the shower. There was also a microwave and a fridge. So I was able to heat up some soup for dinner and had a cold drink.Check-out was smooth and there was a small continental breakfast for guests, so I had a danish and cup of coffee, before hitting the road.Do take care in Williams the local cops seemed to be sitting waiting for cars coming on and off the I-5, whether speeding or whatever.All in all, I liked this motel. I find that so many of the chain places are cookie cutter and seem a little soulless. This place definitely has soul. The owners have done a great job in updating an old motor court motel. Its not somewhere you are going to spend your whole week's holiday but it is pleasant for a night.
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