I’m writing this safely tucked up in a rather fine hotel in Yosemite National Park. It’s Friday and I arrived in San Fran on Monday. So why no postings since then? Well, the truth is, San Francisco was meant to be one of the high points of this trip but for reasons I shall come on to explain, proved not to be. Nothing wrong with San Francisco if:
1) You could see it, or;
2) You could get to it.
Allow me to explain…
I arrived early Monday evening to another fine airbnb property in the Mission district of San Francisco. Whatever you read about the Mission not being the nicest area ignore. It was so trendy and right on it was like being back in Brighton. There was a fabulous organic food and wine shop, Bi-Rite, selling fresh meats and fish just around the corner and dozens of high quality restaurants and bars lining the streets around me. It was a cool place to be.
So, I pottered around Bi-Rite, bought myself a fabulous steak, some courgettes and a nice wine for dinner. I wanted a quiet night in with a cooked meal and that’s exactly what I got. The next morning I woke up and made myself some coffee, wrote the blog had an early lunch and walked into town. I had a good, long day taking pictures in Chinatown and at the edges of the Financial District the results of which you can see here.
The next day I decided to follow the same pattern. Have a lazy morning, an early-ish lunch and then get the bus up to The Presido and walk though the park to the Golden Gate Bridge and take some photos of that. Excellent idea! I left the Mission in bright sunshine on the bus, arrived at the Presidio and that’s when my troubles started. I followed the signs that showed the walking path to the Golden Gate Bridge. They took me through a forest which had a rather lovely mist filtering through it to give the whole place a somewhat X-Files vibe. Half way through the forest, was a sign saying the footpath was closed and showing a diversion. I followed it and was taken back onto the road.
‘Oh well’ I thought. ‘It’ll divert me back onto the forest path soon.’
Except it didn’t. I found the signs again but all they did was follow the road. By this time the mist was thickening rapidly. I passed what I assume were a bunch of old army houses – The Presido used to be an Army training ground – and the X Files vibe grew louder. There was a constant, blaring foghorn sounding in the distance, rustling noises in the woods beside the road and hardly anyone to be seen. Car drivers looked horrified to see a man walking as they hurried past. The place had a deserted feel and all the houses were the same pale green colour.
When I finally passed several construction sites and arrived at a view of the bridge… well, the picture below is just the view I got. Looks fantastic, doesn’t she?
I pushed on, thinking that I’d get a hot drink at the Bridge, wait a while and the fog might lift. Well, it didn’t. I took some photos which I quite like but here’s one thing the photos cannot convey. That fog is freezing fog. I was wearing a thick sweatshirt but I needed more. The visitors centre at the Bridge has no chairs. That’s right NO CHAIRS! WTF!
I had to go outside, in the freezing fog, to sit down and drink a hot chocolate.
So I gritted my teeth, did my job and got some shots. But I was freezing, tired and hungry with the cold and it was getting dark. I got on the wrong bus, a fact I only realised when I was looking at my sat nav (thank you, Sygic) and could see that the bus was heading away from the Mission, not towards it. A tram and a bus later, guided by the very kind and helpful Muni bus drivers and I was home. Cold, very tired and hungry but home. I bought myself a nice home-made lasagne from Bi-Rite. I had a hot shower, watched some Breaking Bad and went to bed around eleven o’clock. I couldn’t sleep. Finally, I did after one o’clock and had some nightmares. I kept waking up, eventually slumbering for a few hours around three.
The next morning, Thursday, I woke up and as soon as I got out of bed, knew something was wrong. Not only did I feel terrible but my right knee was extremely painful. I yelped more than once moving it. It was an injury I’d had for a while but which had subsided considerably before I had left the UK and hadn’t troubled me in the US.
I felt dismayed. Monday I’d arrived, Tuesday was good, Wednesday was a wash-out because of the weather, Thursday was stuffed because of my knee and Friday I was leaving. I hadn’t been out to sample the nightlife yet!
I went for a short walk on Thursday afternoon and although my knee was alright, it was clearly not up to the sort of exertions taking photographs puts on it. I resigned myself to dozing on the sofa and resting. It wasn’t a nice day, either. Sunnier, at least in the Mission but still cold. This morning, I woke up feeling very low and bade a sad farewell to San Francisco. It was brilliant sunshine and soaring temperatures.
My knee feels better now, the weather looks promising for the next few days but I feel very disappointed that I didn’t get around San Francisco as I’d planned to. I didn’t even get to visit Alcatraz 🙁
Still, I think I’ll come back. On this trip San Fran is the northernmost point. There’s still some spectacular scenery further north and I’ve promised myself I’ll do a tour up there sometime.
As I said earlier, I actually like my pictures of the Bridge in the fog – you all know what it looks like in the sun, anyway? – but there’s so much more to San Francisco than I got to see.
Still, Yosemite looks fantastic. More of that tomorrow.
Take a look at more of my work at www.billblack.co.uk