After our short stay in Yosemite our next stop is San Francisco which for me is the second time in the city. Not a fan of my first visit I’m hoping that this time round may prove more interesting and less…scary.
After more than an hour of confusion and frightening U-turns while our driver is hopelessly lost on the way out of Yosemite National Park we finally are en route to San Francisco. Having already seen the top attractions in San Francisco such as the bridge and Alcatraz and even the California Academy of Sciences – which no matter how enthusiastic I am about none of the other travellers are interested in – so I’ve got less of a must see list than the rest and will be happy to just have a nice hotel stay.
Unfortunately, our hotel is located in the same rough area of town I had been staying in on a previous visit. At least this time its a hotel on the edge of Tenderloin rather than a hostel, but it hasn’t made the area feel any more safe.
Our evening is already pre-booked on a sunset sail of the bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge which we will be doing as a group. It sounds a nice trip but there is one detail of the event I am quite angry about. I am very aware of the customs and systems of tipping in America and I will never really understand it. Tipping, for me, is an option and a reward for good service it is not and should not be automatic but on this occasion the whole thing was even more incomprehensible to me. Tonight it is a non-optional tip. Not just a case of you will be frowned upon and judged but actually a forced $5 tip from each of our 15 strong party and its taken from us while we are still in the hotel before I’ve even seen the boat I’m going to be sailing on! That’s a $75 tip from our group on top of the ticket price before I’ve even experienced the service I’m supposed to be rewarding. I rant more in another post on American Tipping but I do feel quite put out by the experience. It may only be $5 but it really is a principle thing.
The sail itself I a pleasant one. There are very pretty views even if it is exceptionally cold on board due to pretty strong winds out on the bay. Helpfully the boat company give up nice big jackets so we can go above deck without freezing. We sail around the bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge while hearing stories from the captain about how many suicides he’s witnessed, where are the favourite spots for jumpers and where he usually finds the bodies. Its….an odd boat trip. Nonetheless its exciting to get a different view of the bridge from my previous visit and to get a few more pictures.
Photos on board are however a very tricky affair both from the boat movement the strong wind and very apparent threat of either the camera of you, yourself going overboard.
Once back on dry land I make my way back to the hotel and am happy to just have an early night in a comfy bed. I decide on a lie in in the morning as well with a little more exploring in the afternoon. I take another trip down to Golden Gate Park. This time I’m actually able to use the public bus system so it’s only $2 to get across town.
I head to see the buffalo who are somewhere resident in the Golden Gate Park and after a while I find them though they aren’t too keen on being friendly and are perhaps a little photo shy. My other stop in the park is the Flower Conservatory but it turns out to be closed so I head back to the hotel via the famous Painted Ladies.
A quick hop of the bus is really enough for me. I love the architecture of all the houses including these famous Painted Ladies but as I take a few pictures I am very aware of the number of cars around me with smashed in windows and so make a quick exit. Are there any nice areas of San Francisco? Have I just been really unlucky? What do others see in this city? Sorry San Francisco lovers I gave the city two trip and I still find is a scary, dirty place with a serious homeless problem.