After going on holiday for a good couple of weeks, and becoming a rather useless excuse for a blogger whilst I was there (we are all allowed some time off though aren't we?), I did promise some travel themed posts contained lots of photos and snippets of information from my trip. Well, I'm staying true to my word today with another California Photo Diary- however, whereas my last travel post was about Disneyland, I have now skipped ahead to talk to you a little about the wonderful city of San Francsico, which was another favourite place of mine that I visited whilst in the USA...
We spent three days in the city (staying outside and then travelling in by ferry each day), and during that time I seemed to amass a good collection of photos of the city, and especially photos of all the glorious Victorian houses (or 'Painted Ladies') that line many of the streets and are somewhat world-famous. Above and below, are photos of two of my absolute favourite houses that I spotted whilst exploring the city on one of the many sightseeing bus tours- the beauty of each of these houses, and many of the others within the vicinity, stood out a mile off as their lovely colours and intricate detail cemented them as some of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen in my life (it's not like many could dream to live in such an abode though, as they in fact cost millions per floor to own)!
Another destination in the city that attracts a great mass of tourists, is the Pier area (predominantly Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf). We visited these parts of San Francisco a couple of times, and I have to say that I did like looking around them very much indeed- Pier 39 in particular, is a vast hub of shops and restaurants where you can find anything from Bubba Gump Shrimp to the pretty amazing Left Handed Shop that you can see a photo of below (this incredibly cool shop featured everything perfect for lefties like myself, including scissors, notebooks and non-smudge pens).
Fishermans Wharf was also a rather jam-packed area full of both people and places to visit (plus lots and lots of seagulls, pigeons, and also the overwhelming smell of fish that anyone who has ever visited the seaside will know all too well). It is definitely an area of San Francisco that you just have to visit though, and is also not very far from other hotspots such as Ghirardelli Square- if you are a chocoholic like myself, you must make time to visit this place, as you can snap up free samples of really lovely chocolate as well as go in the chocolate shop and cafe there)!
Of course though, the iconic landmark that most people conjure up in their heads upon hearing the name San Francisco, is the Golden Gate Bridge. Again, this is a sight that you just have to see if you have travelled all the way to the city, and is a feature I saw several times (sadly though, each time I saw it, it was pretty much smothered in smog as it is in the above photo). Despite the obscuring of the whole bridge, it did still feel pretty amazing to drive across it, as now whenever I see this bridge on TV or in movies, I know that I too have been there and seen the glorious landmark for myself.
Another bridge in San Francisco that is well worth taking a snap of though, is the Bay Bridge which is pretty much at the other end of the city to the Golden Gate. We went under this bridge every day on our ferry journeys in and out of the bustling metropolis, and on the final day I actually managed to take a photo of it amidst a gloriously sunny backdrop (this is probably one of my favourite photos of the city, as I really do think that the perfect blue sky and glistening sea, frame the bridge in a very beautiful way indeed).
Another place I am very happy that I can say I got visit on my holiday, is Alcatraz. This tourist attraction is incredibly (and I mean incredibly in the strongest sense of the word) popular, and with only a certain number of ferries departing to the island on which it is situated every day, it can be very difficult to secure a place on a tour. Thankfully, my parents booked months in advance, so we easily got a place, but even then you still have to be given a time slot and arrive up to 30 minutes before at the certain pier, to make sure you can get in the boat.
All of this planning and waiting is worth it though, because Alcatraz is one of the most iconic places to visit in San Francisco. The tour around the landmark itself is also very interesting- an old prison that housed many notorious prisoners back in the day, the walk around Alcatraz and its surroundings whilst listening to an incredibly informative audio device, is enough to send shivers up your spine! Below you can see a few photos that provide a glimpse into a couple of the areas in the prison (the building is so well preserved and presented during the tour, that you get a really good insight into just what life was like for the prisoners that once called Alcatraz their home).
You can also capture some rather beautiful views from 'The Rock', or Alcatraz Island, especially on a sunny day. On the day that I visited, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by sunshine and therefore achieved some rather lovely photos like the one above, of the bright blue sea and sky, as well as a glimpse of the city of San Francisco in the distance.
Back into the city now, and another legendary sight to see- Lombard Street. The crookedest street in the world is definitely something to marvel at, and the views of it from both the top of the street and the bottom are pretty wonderful. Beware though, if you are going to walk in order to reach to the top of Lombard Street, it is a pretty tough journey as the monstrous hills do really test your fitness to say the least (but of course it is worth it, if you get to keep photos like the one above at the end of the trek)!
As I previous (briefly) mentioned, we did in fact go on a sightseeing bus tour of the city, and from my experience I would definitely recommend that newbies to the city get themselves on a similar excursion, as you really do get to see everything you could possible dream of seeing in a rather short space of time, and also gain a lot of information from the tour guides that talk you through the journey.
Another couple of sights that I photographed whilst on the tour bus include the rather marvellous looking City Hall that you can see in the above photo (that is in fact decorated with real gold at the top), and also Union Square (that I later visited on foot) which is in the heart of the city and contains most of the shops- in my photo below, that is sadly kind of obscured by a bit of a building site, you can see enormous Tiffanys and Saks stores, and behind that there is also a massive Macy's and a Westfield just around the corner!