Sunday, July 23, 2006

Travel: San Fran - City of Extremes

San Francisco is a gorgeous city. A series of hills help demarcate little niche neighborhoods - great views can be had from numerous locations in the city and of course the Bay.

This city is surrounded by water, mountains, bridges and great sister towns like Sausilito & Napa/Sonoma to the North and all the towns that dot the path to Silicon Valley to the South.

If you're into bars and music - neighborhoods such as Nob Hill and Russian hill serve up an assortment of establishments.
But the biggest suprise so far has been the number of homeless people that permeate the entire downtown area. In the midst of the high-end retail district, the tourist centers, the commercial sector and the 4 & 5-star hotels are legions of homeless people and drug addicts.

Now don't get me wrong - I from argubly the poorest and most crime-ridden town in America and I dont see the brazen crime and overall craziness that plagues all of America's ghettos.... but I have never known a major city to allow such a density of misery and panhandling to permeate it's commercial center. I will have to guess-timate that San Fran has double to triple the density of homeless and panhandling in it's main district - compared to Philly's Center City or Manhattan's mid-town areas.

Back to the positive - the entire Golden Gate Bridge area is excellent - wind surfers whizz around directly under the bridge like mosquitos. The beach is active with joggers, kids, pets and families. Closer to the base of the bridge, many groups were having beer and BBQ - and everybody is having a good time.

The runners and bikers around here are serious. They're in great shape and they dominate the walkways. As in the touristy areas of NYC, you can hear a slew of different languages being spoken.

On the other side of the bridge you can start up some hiking trails (Bay Area Ridge trails) that lead to other beaches such as Rodeo Beach. The sign stated that Rodeo Beach was a 6.1 mile trek.

I wasn't properly prepared so I only hiked about an hour - but be forewarned - it was mostly uphill and hot for that one hour - so you better have your sun-tan lotion, water and food.

Other places I've visited were Fisherman's Wharf which was a treat - overflowing with seafood restaurants and shops. Presidio is anchored by beautiful displays of nature and architecture.

That's all for now -- Wine Country next week -- if I can get my hands on some cash .... hmmmmm ....... will code for food?

(click on pix for larger view)

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