Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco 2011 (2 of 2)

In this post, I share the remainder of my favourite photos from my 2011 visit to San Francisco. This includes many landmarks which you’ve probably seen many times over.

Fog nearly hides the Golden Gate Gate bridge in the distance. The bridge spans across two towers which sit atop old ferry ports. Ferries were the primary transportation between SF and Marin County before the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory without fog. To avoid collision with boats on foggy days, the hallmark red is used. Many Japanese bridges use a similar color for the same reason.

My second visit to Alcatraz! It’s amazing how San Francisco’s primary tourist attraction was left to sit in ruins for many years after closing as a prison. Besides its attraction as a prison, Alcatraz has may beautiful gardens. To make the island more like home, prison guard families would plant small gardens. This activity was even popular amongst the inmates. Since the terrain is rocky, soil has been imported from elsewhere.

Alcatraz Island is off in the distance as I pose by the lookouts.

Alcatraz Island is now the setting for a TV series. You can see the Pink Persian Carpet plant that covers the island. Many plants had died due to the harsh conditions on the island. However, the Persian Carpet was one of the plants that did thrive.

The famous crooked part of Lombard Street. This is clearly a tourist attraction. However, there are many less well known streets that run between houses that are closed off from traffic with beautiful gardens. It was mentioned by a tour guide that some streets are pedestrian only since they are too steep for cars.

The Painted Ladies are such beautiful homes. They are located next to Alamo Square park with amazing views of the city. Even without the fame from TV’s The Full House, I can imagine they would still be popular. Unfortunately, these row of homes must have privacy issues as almost all of their blinds are closed.

The sea lions near Pier 39 seem to love attention from tourists, at least when they’re not just laying around.

That’s all for San Francisco for now.

San Francisco 2011 (1 of 2)

It has taken me a long time to post these, but even a year later is better than never to post photos of my spring 2011 visit to San Francisco. This visit was my third and longest, and images of The City are still stuck in my mind. In my next couple posts, I will share some of favourite new photos of this city, adding to the ones I posted before.

Neiman Marcus is one of the many shopping destinations for tourists, and it provides a beautiful view of Union Square through its windows.

San Francisco’s streets are full of characters, and small shops everywhere. In each visit, I’ve found it quite enjoyable to just walk around with no particular destination in mind.

A sculpture outside the science centre in Golden Gate Park.

I caught a relaxing glimpse of a toad at the Aquarium on Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco is a city known for its hills and expensive real estate. This view is very familiar to tourists looking out from the Pier 39 area. Note that street cars comprise the primary transportation method to this area, not buses or subways (though the stops for those aren’t too far away either).

These houses seem to lean when making the very steep Telegraph Hill seem straight. There’s quite a dramatic difference between the left and right sides of the houses.

The Bay Bridge, palm trees, and old buildings make another unique street view. Palm trees are not native to SF. They have been shipped from elsewhere and quite expensively too. Each tree cost, on average, $3,000-10,000.

Coit Tower overlooks many of the city’s neighbourhoods, with the Bay Bridge again in the background. The weather looks fine here, though it was quite windy and cold during most of this visit for me. Some areas of San Francisco which I didn’t visit apparently have harsh microclimates with colder temperatures and less sunshine than other parts of the city.

Evening begins to fall as a cable car prepares for its run. Sadly, San Francisco has fewer cable cars than it used to, but it has successfully resisted attempts to remove them entirely over the years. The forward-thinking minds of decades ago noted that tourists visiting the city don’t come to ride the buses. Friedel Klussmann was the resident who led the protest to protect the cable cars as they were going to shut down. This is just one example of locals contributing to the city. Coit tower is another example, which was built at the request of Lillie Hitchcock Coit who left one third of her estate to the city.

My trip also took me to wine country in the Napa Valley which comprises hundreds of small wineries.

The tours covered every step of the wine making process, including wine tasting samples.

Please check back soon for more photos from my San Francisco visit.

San Francisco, Spring 2010

On the way back from my visit to Japan, I had an 8 hour layover in San Francisco. Despite being tired, I decided to use this time to re-explore the Union Square area where I stayed before. Knowing the neighbourhood quite well already, this gave me a chance to explore some of the finer details here.

Perhaps this isn’t so special or unique, but there’s something nice and charming about the architecture here.

Just in case you thought the first picture may have been taken in Saint John, the palm trees here remind you that this is in fact a much warmer climate.

Retailers of designer fashion are everywhere in this neighbourhood. Artists show off their work in Union Square.

Although everyone is familiar with the cable cars iconic to San Francisco that are retained mostly for tourists, the city also still uses older electric buses on many routes.

San Francisco is a city known for its hills. It’s not hard to find many views with bridges, tall buoldings and other landmarks all merging together to create a unique viewpoint.

San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge

At last, I am posting my last set of pictures from my visit to San Francisco, almost 2 months ago now!


There it is! The only thing spoiling this sight is the building at the bottom. I’m not sure what it is.


Next to the bridge is a walking trail. You can walk for quite a distance like this.


Using my camera’s very nice 12X optical zoom, I was able to get an interesting close-up.


There’s abandoned military buildings nearby. They aren’t very well maintained, but they are totally accessible.


Hills and a beautiful seashore surround the area.

That’s all for my California pictures.

San Francisco – Alcatraz

No visit to San Francisco could be complete without a visit to the island of Alcatraz.


Since being closed as a prison, it is now a very popular national park, though I wonder for how many more years it will be able to operate since it’s not well maintained in many places.


Immediately upon entering the island, you see this sign which has been left as it was, graffiti included. It says “Indians Welcome” (called Indians because its what they call themselves) because they took possession of the island for a short while after it closed as a prison. They never gained permanent control of the island as they hoped, but they did raise awareness for their cause.


Inside, there is a large network of areas that tourists aren’t allowed to go. This is one of them. I poked my camera through a barricade when taking this picture. It was actually quite dark, since you can see I left my shutter open a long time with the brightness of the lights.


This is a typical cell, and one that is particularly well preserved. I wonder how often those towels need to be washed due to dust collection. I didn’t notice until now there’s also a broom on the floor, perhaps for keeping the area tidy.


Very prison-like.


During the Indian Occupation and a few years after, several buildings, mostly residences, were destroyed by fires, which are still mysterious today. All that remains is their concrete shells.


Alcatraz Island is particularly well known for its gardens, which are being restored to their former glory. Many plants have been found to still be growing over 100 years after being planted.

Alcatraz was also noted as a decent place to raise a family… outside the prison of course. Some families of prison employees lived on the island, taking boats to San Francisco for school, and other such things. There was never any noted problems of these families mixing with prisoners, and the families rarely thought about the prisoners, according to the audio tour.

I’ll post my final San Francisco set of pictures from the Golden Gate bridge area soon.

San Francisco – Lombard Street

After going to Alcatraz (which I’ll talk about in another post), I walked from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Lombard Street area. It turns out that this is actually a long street and several large mountains (slight exageration) separate it from the waterfront area where I started.


It looks so relaxing out there on the bay. I took this from the top of one of the hills using my camera’s 12X optical zoom. That really comes in handy for zooming in on distant areas that virtually no one else would be able to do so casually.


This is quite a cozy, densely populated neighbourhood.

As I walked, I noticed that cars do park on the steep hills, but signs tell them to park at a 90 degree angle. Eventually, I reached the crooked part of Lombard Street.


There it is! Cars were constantly driving down this one way street.


You know you’re in trouble when you need to use a whole hand to count the night of curves.


At the top was a stop for the cable car. I rode it back to the area near my hostel. It costs $5 USD one way, so it’s a bit expensive, but it’s definitely interesting. You can see why they aren’t in use anymore because it’s hard to hold on when taking sharp turns and it’s loud inside. The history is interesting though. The cable cars were created in the 19th century because they discovered the hills were too steep for horses to climb.

San Francisco – Downtown

Prior to attending my conference in San Diego, California, I stopped in San Francisco first.

I have many photos from San Francisco and its various attractions. My first set will focus on Downtown, including China and Little Italy.


In the region where I stayed near Union Square, the buildings reach tall and there’s lots of stylish stores everywhere.


I took a free walking tour organized through the hostel, which led us to Chinatown. Until recently, this Chinatown was North America’s largest, though Vancouver now claims this title.


These are patrons of the tour company which promises you an experience of San Francisco by Segway. Sounds good, right? Not really. They don’t tell you beforehand in the brochure that you need to wear those ugly uniforms. If you want to look like a very stupid tourist, this is the way to go.


On my last full day in the city, I didn’t have any special plans so I hopped on the BART train and just got off at a random stop that seemed like a significant place. I end up at San Francisco City Hall where a Free Tibet demonstration is taking place.


These binoculars by the Coit Tower give you a nice view of the overgrown trees.


San Francisco sure has a lot of hills.