on November 11, 2011
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most famous of San Francisco’s landmark and arguably the most famous bridge in the world. It spans the bay from The Presidio to Marin County on the other side and, as far as bridges can be, it is actually quite pretty. It isn’t the biggest bridge in the world, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most impressive.It is a suspension bridge that was finished in 1937. At either end of the bridge is a little placard showing off some of its most impressive facts; the two towers are a lofty 746 metres high, the roadway across it runs for 1.75 miles and the cable used to construct it is enough to circle the Earth three times. Apparently it is five times stronger than it needs to be, which explains why it has suffered no damage despite years of hurricane winds, earth quakes and extremely heavy use. One of the most fascinating facts though in my opinion is that it can sway up to 21 metres – something that I absolutely wouldn’t like to have tested whilst I was on it. The bridge is painted in ‘international orange’ a colour that makes it even more famous – I wouldn’t like to guess at how many extra tonnes the paint gives the bridge.A trip to the city isn’t complete without crossing the bridge in one form or another. One of the most popular ways to do this is by cycle and there are lots of ‘cycle the bridge’ tours available from the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, where bike hire will cost around $18 for a round trip. The first time I visited, I crossed it on a bus. If you are thinking of going by vehicle, then you need to bear in mind just how busy the six lanes of the bridge get and that there is a $5 charge for the south bound trip. It is worth it once you’ve done it though because there is a lovely viewpoint at the far side where you can take some fabulous photos of both the bridge and the city in the background.This time I visited, we walked across the bridge. I actually bottled it about a third of the way across as you can definitely feel the sway that I mentioned. This isn’t helped by either the huge vehicles trundling past on the other side or the numerous signs along the way offering counselling to those who have thoughts of jumping off. Its status as the world’s most popular suicide spot is, unfortunately, something else that makes the bridge famous and the evidence of this status is there in the signs.My husband (the daredevil) walked much further than I did and took some spectacular photographs of the huge towers and the island of Alcatraz in the distance. He wasn’t enough of a daredevil to look too far over the side in the middle of the bridge though, where there is a small protrusion which acts as a kind of viewing platform.Back on terra firma at the beginning of the bridge there is a grassy area where you can admire the construction in all its glory, as well as a rather overpriced gift shop that, as the numerous signs tell you, has no toilet facilities. There are also a couple of benches and some quite interesting signs that tell the story of the bridge from its construction to now.You can’t possibly go to San Francisco without experiencing the world’s most famous bridge, but if you haven’t got a head for heights, be prepared to be afraid – very afraid!
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009