US Trip ’07: Cable car to downtown SFo

May 31, 2007. After having lunch at Pier 39, my parents decided that they wanted to go shopping. My parents and my aunt decided to go to downtown San Francisco by the historic tram with us. The cable cars are apparently not being used by regular commuters and are just operational for their tourist value. (Or not. I certainly wouldn’t take the tram if I was a commuter. Lines are too long and the tram’s quite slow).

San Francisco cable cars

What can I say? It’s a roller coaster ride only much slower. Also, my brother, my father and I were standing instead of being fastened to our seats. Everyone who stood up during the entire ride got knocked down a number of times. It was quite hilarious especially when everyone else in the coach laugh in chorus at the quirks of the ride.

Union Square, San Francisco

We got down at Union Square. While my parents, my brother and Auntie Lydia were at Macy’s, I begged off and went to the plaza and took street photos. Soon enough I discovered how Union Square has a Philippine significance. The monument and the plaza were apparently erected and constructed in commemoration of the Americans’ victory over Spain in the battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. It also of course, signifies the beginning of an oppressive American occupation.

downtown San Francisco

Anyway, my family met up with me at the middle of Union Square after they were done with a few shopping. We went through a few blocks downtown, into this mall with a cylindrical escalator. Haha. Sorry, it’s my first time to see and ride such a thing, so I’m taking note of that. After spending the entire day in San Francisco, we drove back down to Campbell. My parents and my aunt left my brother and I at the apartment for a while to rent and pick up the vehicle that we used to drive down to Southern California.

US Trip ’07: Briefly in Alcatraz

San Francisco skyline
May 31, 2007. After another hearty breakfast at my aunt’s apartment in Campbell, California, we drove back north to San Francisco and to one of the piers along the bay to board a ferry to the infamous Alcatraz island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

We were at the island a little before noon, and we spent an jour or so going around the island. Again, as with many other tourist attractions in the US, I honestly think there’s nothing quite significant in Alcatraz, come to think of it, it’s simply a historical prison in the middle of the sea. We are conditioned to want to see it, and spend money to do so, because of our over-consumption of American entertainment. There had been, of course, a number of blockbuster films that featured Alcatraz and its notorious prisoners.

Alcatraz island It was pretty freezing and windy in Alcatraz and it caught me by surprise. That’s apparently normal. And the waters that surround the island are also said to be, similarly as freezing cold. There were also, amusingly, swarms of gulls, or whatever you call them sea birds. The island is apparently a protected sanctuary for these creatures. The ferry ride, by the way, made my brother and I quite dizzy.

US Trip ’07: Brief SFo roundabout (II)

Ghirardeli ChocolatesMay 30, 2007. After strolling around the Palace of Fine Arts and the surrounding affluent and picturesque neighborhood, we drove to San Francisco’s old industrial district and walked to Ghirardelli Chocolates. It’s the first time we’ve heard about the brand and the apparently famous San Francisco landmark. My aunt told it’s quite a renowned class in that part of the world. They were serving free samples of their chocolates in the store. And sure enough, there were hoards of tourists within the premises of the store and the old factory compound.

San Francisco

Crooked Street, San FranciscoAfter purchasing customary souvenir chocolates from Ghirardeli, my aunt drove us to the renowned crooked street. If there’s one thing I noticed in our driving around San Francisco, is that the city is a very steep and hilly city. Streets go up and down steep slopes like some roller coaster path. It would be a nightmare for a driver who’s not used to manual gear and hanging positions.

Anyway, we actually drove down through crooked street. As a passenger in the vehicle, it wasn’t that much of an experience. It would probably be more exciting if one were the driver. I also wondered why that certain part of the street had to be crooked, when the rest of the street was a straight path with similarly steep slopes. I didn’t get a satisfying answer, but I left it at that.

Our next stop was Coit Tower near San Francisco’s downtown. It’s one of the highest points in the city, and it was where you could get a good panoramic view of the area, including the city’s downtown. It was about to close when we got there, since it was about to turn eight in the evening. The sun was only about to set but it was still as windy and as cold as ever (to think it was the beginning of the summer season in the US).

San Francisco view from Coit Tower After a long day loitering around San Francisco, we drove an hour back south to Campbell.

US Trip ’07: Brief SFo roundabout (I)

Golden Gate Bridge

May 30, 2007. Just before crossing the Golden Gate, we drove up to the highest vista point from where we could get a view of the bridge from the northern side. It was terribly windy and freezing up there. It felt a little gloomy because it was quite cloudy too.

near the Palace of Fine Arts

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we passed by the Palace of Fine Arts at San Francisco’s Marina district. There was barely anyone in the park, probably because it was almost seven in the evening (with the sun still barely setting). It was a very tranquil walk in a well-landscaped garden.

San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts

US Trip ’07: Lunch at Tiburon

Tiburon, California
May 30, 2007. On the way back south to the southern bay area, we passed by Tiburon, a small and picturesque seaside town along San Francisco Bay. We had lunch at this fancy restaurant at the town’s docks where tens of yachts where docked. It had a nice view of San Francisco from across the bay. After the late lunch, we also drove through Sausalito, another picturesque seaside town north of San Francisco before re-entering the highway back to San Francisco.

Tiburon, California

US Trip ’07: Photo ops with the Golden Gate

May 30, 2007. After having a hearty breakfast at the apartment, Aunt Lydia took us to Muir Woods a few hours drive north of San Francisco. We passed by San Francisco proper on the way there. It was the first time we actually got to San Francisco itself. It was really chilly, in fact, much cooler than the temperature in Atlanta and New York.

Golden Gate Bridge

On the way, we dropped by a few vista points to see the Golden Gate Bridge and have photos taken at various angles. The first vista point was at Presidio, which was quite a distance from the bridge itself. We then proceeded towards the end of the bridge itself at the San Francisco side. When we crossed the bridge, we had more pictures taken at the other side. There was quite a crowd then that time, and TV crews. There was some news that day about some stray and sick whales stranded at San Francisco Bay, hence the news crews and onlookers.

Golden Gate Bridge

After a few minutes, we continued driving north of the Bay Area into low lying seaside mountains into Muir Woods, where the air is crisp and cold, but the wind wasn’t as strong as when we were in San Francisco.