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Day 6 : Thursday 8th September 2005

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Green and Gold

I kept to my established pattern of rising early and taking breakfast at the Club Intercontinental. The weather was again not so good, but the cloud layer was much higher than the day before and the forecast was for sun to break out in the afternoon.

That was all the excuse I needed and I decided to head off to the Presidio and Golden Gate bridge. I took the No. 1 bus (an electric bus that runs from overhead power lines rather like a tram) which goes almost all the way to the Presidio, but missed the connecting No. 43 bus by a few feet (again!) so decided to walk down into the Presidio, which is a large National Park area on the north shore of San Francisco, and despite being a NP it does contain many communities, housing and offices, but in a beautiful woodland setting.

My main destination was the Palace of Fine Arts, built for the Panama-Pacific Expo in 1915. It was originally designed to fall into a ruin, but apparently the locals love it so much that they maintain it. And indeed unfortunately some of that maintenance was in evidence as the whole of the lakeside section was fenced off .

From here I had originally intended to get a bus along to the Golden Gate Bridge, but I decided to walk along the shore instead, taking some exercise and admiring the view. I decided to walk out onto the bridge, but only to the first tower. The bridge is 1.7 miles long ... and it would have been that far back again if I had walked the whole lot! But that was enough to give a great perspective on SF Bay area and downtown.

I had a quick spot of lunch at the visitor centre (not really much there) and caught a No. 28 bus down to Golden Gate Park, another large area of green space, more than 1.5 times the size of Central Park in NY. Despite some 180-degree mis-navigation, thanks to a slightly out of scale transit map, I found my way to my main destination, the Japanese Tea Garden. This provided a lovely sanctuary of peace for half an hour or so.

After that, I was up and off again, this time taking the No. 28 back to California St. and connecting with the No. 1 again, this time all the way out to Lincoln Park, my third green space of the day and perched right on the west coast line of the peninsula. As well as offering stunning views of the Golden Gate (especially as the sun had now come out), this park is also home to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, an art gallery that is a work of art in itself.

With all this frantic travelling around, I decided to head back to the hotel after a brief visit inside the Legion of Honor. Unfortunately I picked the slightly unfortunate time of 3:30pm which is school out time and the bus was absolutely packed with schoolkids. Unfortunately this made every stop into a bit of a drama, especially as the driver kept standing up and shouting to everyone to "move down", despite the fact that we were already crammed in like sardines anyway . It took the best part of an hour just to get back to Nob Hill, but when we did, I noticed that Grace Cathedral was open (it had been closed before) so I popped for a look inside, before heading back across the square to the hotel.

After drinks and canapés (again) in the hotel, I headed out down into the Financial District, riding the California St cable car and ended up at Tadich Grill, supposedly the oldest restaurant in SF. I ate at the bar and am pleased to report that the food was great (crab cocktail followed by corned beef hash) even if the service was a little, shall we say, European. Another ride back up Nob Hill on the cable car rounded off a great day of sightseeing.


Palace of Fine Arts

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden

Palace of the Legion of Honor