Winter in San Francisco
January 1, 1970
by Anca Iftime
On 29th of December 2015 I took an airplane that carried me to the farthest place I’ve ever been and it embraced myself to my first trip alone for 10.250 km. After almost 15 hours of flying and chatting with some beautiful people that I met in the airports or planes, I woke up in a famous city from another continent, Los Angeles. I was staring at the plane’s window, trying to capture the beauty of the city during the night. There I found my loved ones.
A well organized plan was made for my 2 weeks and a half of staying in Benjamin Franklin’s country. San Francisco was one of the cities that was included in a long list of things to see and to do. Therefore, the next day I leaved the sunny Southern of California for the northern part that it’s well known for its IT growth. Almost all the road, the ocean was next to me, making me to have Goosebumps on each reached mile.
Before arriving in San Francisco, I passed through the famous Silicon Valley, trying to spot a glorious CEO. Sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough even though I had my CV with me. If you ask me what comes to my mind when I think of San Francisco, I can tell you that the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, the Golden gate bridge, the cable car and the streets like hills. I’ve always been fascinated by its streets, seen only in the movies and pictures. By far one of the stunning street is Lombard made famous by its curvy shapes and turns out to be one of the trademarks of the city. This is one of the places you cannot miss from the town .
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
The next stop was on the park from where I could see the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. This place is located on an island under the same name as the prison, 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco. The prison was opened from 11th of August 1934 when the first batch of 137 people arrived (at 9:40am according to www.unknownworld.co/alcatraz-island) (I hope that they had Swiss clocks) until 21st of March 1963. Also the institution was considered the maximum high-security federal prison and a symbol of justice and protection in United States of America. During the 29 years of services, the average number of inmates was around 260. (http://www.alcatrazhistory.com/factsnfig.htm). Nowadays, the building is open to its visitors to show the rooms where people like Al Capone spent their time. The island can be reached by taking a ferry from one of the piers.
Going further, I walked for some street shopping to buy some souvenirs and ended up by taking lunch in one of the seafood restaurant. Since the city is close to the ocean, majority of the locals has seafood in their menu and I found myself a real lover of this food. If you are a fan of shrimps, octopus, salmon, every restaurant from the piers is your place.
All day was sunny but with a cold wind that made me feel winter, and yes, in this part of California, winter is coming.
The cable car
I was mentioned before the cable car as one landmark that relates to San Francisco. This way of transport is a historic symbol over the hills of the city and represents the world’s last manually cable car with 62 stations over 2 ha. The system was built in 1873 but by 1912 only 3 lines were operated. Nowadays it’s not use only by the tourists; also the people who live in the city are taking advantages from it. Prepare yourself to wait for hours in the queue.
During almost 4 hours, I was really thrilled to see the city by day and night with its stunning buildings and bold streets, feeling that soon I will fall from the cab. It’s amazing how people can ride on such streets. The cab took me to remarkable places such us: Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and Union Square. By far it’s a wonderful way to feel the city’s vibe and to enjoy great views.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The last point from our plan was the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Probably you heard it before that it’s a bridge that connects San Francisco with Marin County having a total length of 2737m and a height of 227m. The red bridge was opened in 27th of May 1937 and offers an incredible view of San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. The best place to a breathtaking landscape is the North vista point situated on Marin County. It is always crowded but for a better capture of the masterpiece you should climb the hill. I felt lucky because it was a warm weather on the first day of 2016.
The aquarium of the Bay
Beside these landmarks, the city can offer more than these. The aquarium of the Bay is a good place to spend a few hours with the Ocean’s miracles focused on the local animals and neighboring areas. The place is bringing together the life of over 20.000 marine animals but also is taking a warming on how our selfish actions can destroy the nature. Among the giant Pacific Octopus, sharks and colorful starfish, I really enjoyed seeing the jellyfish, those small, freely and perfect aquatic animals.
The city holds an old ship that can be visit. So if you want to know how it feels to be a little Jack Sparrow, this place can offer this desire. San Francisco is not only present on the market with seafood but also with chocolate. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is located in Fisherman’s Wharf area where you can taste and buy sweets from the third-oldest chocolate company from USA.
My trip ended with a small visit to Stanford campus. I’ve always been fascinating about the universities from Ivy League from an organizational until educational system point of you. Even though that I graduated uni a few years ago, I wanted to come back to see the American educational system from the world’s most famous institution perspective. Sadly for me, in the campus was silent, everything was closed due to winter holiday but it was good to pass on the same alley like John F Kennedy, Tiger Woods or Reese Witherspoon once were.