San Francisco – a dream destination for so many people across the world…
Well, in February of 2008 I finally had to opportunity to revisit San Francisco, one of my favourite cities in all of North America. In just a bit more than four days I had a chance to sample so many of the things that this fascinating city has to offer. Here are just a few highlights: as an avid biker I went on two bicycle tours and cycled across the famous Golden Gate Bridge – definitely an experience of a life time! I also explored Golden Gate Park and the city’s west end, but ran out of time when it got dark – all the more reason to visit it again next time. Of course I needed to see Alcatraz Island with its infamous prison cellblocks and was captured by the fascinating history and eerie beauty of Alcatraz.
A gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Land’s End
Discoveries of San Francisco’s famous waterfront including Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf were also part of my adventure. Walks through some of San Francisco’s neighbourhoods included a guided Victorian homes walking tour through Pacific Heights and an interesting, delicious and filling culinary tour through North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian neighbourhood. I checked out local landmarks such as the Coit Tower and its famous murals on Telegraph Hill.
Naturally a ride on one of the famous cable cars was a must, and our hilarious driver Rufus made this a very memorable experience. On a day-long excursion I even got to explore Muir Woods and the famous Sonoma wine country. All along the way I had a chance to sample so many of San Francisco’s diverse culinary offerings, get entertained in great shows and stay in unique historic hotels, providing me with an opportunity to see a bit of the diversity that San Francisco offers.
The illuminated sign at Fisherman’s Wharf
Of course my few short days were not enough to really experience this city; my departure date arrived too quickly and left me feeling that I had only scratched the surface of this beautiful city, one of the most scenic cities in the world.
So to give you a more comprehensive idea of this special destination, here is Part 1 of my extensive interview with Tanya Houseman, Media Relations Manager for the San Francisco Visitors and Convention Bureau.
1. Please provide us with some general information about San Francisco. Where is it located and how can I get there? How big is the population of San Francisco? How do I get around the city?
San Francisco is famous for scenic beauty, cultural attractions, diverse communities and world-class cuisine; San Francisco’s landmarks include the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Union Square, North Beach, the Castro District and Mission Dolores. The much-celebrated fog creates a romantic mood in this most European of American cities.
Classical Greek architecture revisited at the Palace of Fine Arts
The city is situated on a 46.6 square-mile peninsula bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate strait and from north to east by San Francisco Bay. The last provides it with one of the world’s finest land-locked harbors. The Bay is spanned by two landmarks, the Golden Gate and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges, and graced by four islands — Alcatraz, Angel, Yerba Buena and Treasure.
San Francisco is located in Northern California. Visitors can fly into the City from San Francisco International Airport, or travel over the Golden Gate Bridge or San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to get there.
The serene beauty of nature at Muir Woods
San Francisco has a population of close to 809,000 people. It is one of the top walking cities in America. The best way to get around is a combination of walking and public transportation, which is inexpensive and readily available. For more information about fares, routes and timetables, visit www.sfmuni.com and www.bart.gov.
2. San Francisco has a fascinating history. Please give us a brief historical overview of this unique city.
San Francisco’s history is a mixture of Spanish colonialism and rowdy American romanticism. The first European settlement on the site of the present city was established in 1776 by a Spanish officer, Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, who founded the Presidio on the southern shore of the Golden Gate. By 1835 the little garrison had grown into a village. It kept the name Yerba Buena until 1847 when it was officially christened San Francisco.
San Francisco offers stunning architecture
The Yankees came en masse following the discovery of gold at Sutter’s sawmill, 140 miles east of San Francisco, in 1848. During 1849, 40,000 people arrived, most of them in search of quick riches. Today there are some 5.8 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area, the hub of a nine-county complex and one of the financial and biotech capitals of the West.
3. What type of sightseeing opportunities do I have in San Francisco? What types of tours are offered? What options do I have to explore the city?
There are hundreds of sightseeing and tour options available to see San Francisco. The best source available to discover how to see San Francisco is visiting www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com. Here you can find walking tours, cruises, helicopter and seaplane tours to the city’s must see attractions including Alcatraz cruises, Golden Gate Fields tours, Angel Island Tram Tours, wine country tours, overnight packages, and many more.
Palermo Delicatessen, a stop on our North Beach culinary tour