The sightseeing trip I was a little apprehensive about – I’m not a “bus tour” sort of person and I knew this was going to be a bit of “15 minutes – get your pictures. Now quick! Back on the bus!” but I also knew it was going to be a good way to get a solid overview of the city.
I drew an extraordinary bus driver/guide. Larry is a native San Franciscan and obviously loves the city. We got history, colorful anecdotes, and a soundtrack! Including “Magical Mystery Tour,” “If You’re Going to San Francisco,” “I Left My Heart,” and others. We stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge, Twin Peaks (not the set for the old David Lynch series) for city views, and the City Hall which featured a farmer’s market (I got free slices of sweet, crisp Asian pears!). I saw the Buena Vista, where Irish coffee was introduced; Union Square; a street full of fancy shops that I had no desire to actually go into; the gates to Chinatown and the crowds inside; the Russian Orthodox church; houses in a variety of Victorian styles (Italianate, Stick, Queen Anne, and even Edwardian – I can almost tell them apart now); the no-longer-commercial piers; Golden Gate Park (where the fortune cookie was invented!); and the Castro district – the Village People’s “YMCA” was the soundtrack and Larry pointed out, “Ohh, look! Straight people!” I learned the difference between a “trolley” (runs on electricity, whether a streetcar or a bus) and a “cable car” (no electricity – runs on a street level belt). I saw the Presidio, which is now in development as private land – you can rent the houses, or set up offices there. I saw the Pacific Ocean and the remains of opulent houses that were built/rebuilt after the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. Oh, and I found out that you have to go about a half-hour away to find a Wal-Mart in San Francisco – this is a town of small businesses; not big box stores.
It was a good tour.
Later, I roused myself to go out for a last walk around the city. I wanted to stroll around the Yerba Buena Gardens which are about a block away from the hotel. There’s a striking MLK memorial that involves waterfalls and the quote from Amos about letting “justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It was a beautiful day and the park was full of families and kids enjoying themselves. The Garden is full of kid-friendly places, including a carousel, a park, a skating rink and I had a great time just gawking around.
But it’s time to go home.