It was fun while it lasted, but unfortunately our US road trip had to end sometime. And if it was going to end anywhere, there we couldn’t have picked a better place than San Francisco.
After the relative quietness of Yosemite, the big brash city was a shock to the senses but I instantly fell in love with the place.
Accommodation in San Francisco is pretty pricey so we opted to book into a hostel, as we figured we’d spend most of our time out and about exploring. The City Center HI was not in the best part of town, close to what it calls the “gritty” Tenderloin district, but as soon as we stepped through the doors we loved the laid back, quirky, charm of the place. It was formerly a 1920’s boutique hotel and by keeping lots of the little vintage touches, they have made the place feel quite different to your standard run-of-the-mill hostel.
Armed with a map we set out to make the most of our one day in the city and quickly learnt that if you want to walk anywhere in San Francisco you have to have pretty strong legs for all of those hills. I’m surprised anyone living there needs a gym pass!
First we headed to Coit Tower in the Telegraph Hill neighbourhood to get an overall view of the city. The 210ft (64m) concrete art deco building was built in 1933 with money left by socialite Lillie Hitchcock Coit to ‘beautify’ the city.
Inside the walls are covered with murals painted by artists, which depict scenes from San Francisco’s various historical industries and often represent leftist and Marxist political ideas.
We were taken to the top of the tower in its original elevator by a very funny Frenchman, who gave us a potted history of it.
Once up there, visitors are open to the elements, so I imagine it could get a bit blustery up there on a windy day. The tower provides a 360 degree view of the city through large windows, although only one can be opened at a time because of the wind (if you want a window opened for photographs you can request it from the member of staff on duty).
The tower gave us great views of some of San Francisco’s most famous sights, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and the former Alcatraz prison. We also saw the crazy Lombard Street, the zigzag road which must feature in every film made in San Francisco.
After getting our bearings it was time to head into the city for food…and that’s a whole other post in itself!
Info: Entry to Coit Tower is $7. It is open from 10am-6pm from May to October and 10am-5pm from November to April.