Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Bike , The Bridge, The Baseball , The Bon Voyage

A trip over the Golden Gate Bridge is a must do and I decide it will be done on bike. The bike rental company is down at Fisherman’s Wharf and I decide to chance my luck on the cable car that starts with a steep climb up Nob Hill, passing through Chinatown and then plummeting down Hyde Street to Fisherman’s Wharf. I got a hot tip from a guy in the street that told me not to wait in the line but walk three blocks down and I could get on there as they always leave space. He just didn’t say it would be on the running board, so holding on for grim death I did the plummeting from the running board. I guess no other way to ride the cable car in San Francisco.

The bike rental company is a very professional outfit with bikes and helmet personally fitted for you to ensure safety.  I am even escorted over the road and given a trial ride before I set off with a map, directions and a ferry ticket if I decide to use it. The bridge is shrouded in mist and fog as it has been for most of my stay. Glimpses of partial views I see as I cycle through the Marina District, the area that was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake. Here at the northern edge of the city multi-million dollar homes back up against the Marina.

At Fort Point before you pedal the climb up to the bridge entry I can see some surfers trying to catch a wave.

The bridge stretches 1.7 miles and towers 500 feet above the roadway and I am not the only one who wants to cross it today…wits about you as you ride across. There are spectacular views along its span and it does not matter that it is very cool and windy, not to mention noisy from the constant traffic that is zooming past.

I made it!

I decide to ride through to Sausalito (14 miles to there) and as there is a bike trail for most of the way it is a pleasant ride. Well it would have been if it wasn’t a head wind. Sausalito is a lovely seaside town with a beautiful marina but unfortunately today it is overrun with tourists.

I had a quick mosey around and decide that as I am two thirds of the way there and I might as well continue to Tiburon.

The bike path heads north and winds along the bay for the most part. Tiburon is not so crowded but there are another 50 or so riders that have made it this far. Restaurants are two a penny but the ferry will be here in 5mins.

The ferry ride has short stop at Angel Island State Park, a beautiful little island on which you can go camping. I enjoyed my ride back to the bike rental company on a sunny but windy afternoon having biked 22 miles….not km’s.

Getting to the AT and T ball park was an experience in itself, but it really was just follow the orange- the main colour of the SF Giants. The park is built on Willie May’s Avenue – he must have been a famous baseballer as there is a bronze statue of him outside the huge entry gates.

Once inside there is a huge concourse that has food and drink stalls and all the fan gear you can possibly imagine and more. These Americans are passionate about their teams and players and dress accordingly. A news item on TV while I am here in SF tells of a Dad at another game in the country somewhere with his 6 year old son. He reaches out over the barrier to catch a foul ball and falls 20 metres to the ground. Sadly he died in hospital.  Barriers of course would hinder the view but could save lives!

After the obligatory hot dog I go up the 2 escalators to my seat. I had booked my ticket from home and the site gave me a 360 degree view of what I could see from my seat. I was on the 3rd base line and up pretty high (what else do you get for US$25-00) but with stunning views of the diamond and out of the ball park. AT and T ball park is built right on the Bay and from where I was the water is just so close. In fact there is a record of the 57 “splash” hits- where the ball is hit out of the park into the water.

From here I can see the viewing portals. I am told that no other Major League Baseball stadium in the country includes such a viewing section as part of a built-in feature. They are four arches covered in wire mesh to attract passers-by off the adjoining promenade that might not otherwise be inclined to watch. From here you can watch the games for free, reminiscent of the Knothole Gangs of the old-time ballparks.

They provide free internet here (advised in a reminder email to me the day before) and I Skype from my seat. While two of you can hear the noise only, Charlotte was able to have a 360 of the ball park.  I stand for the US National Anthem….an amazing atmosphere. There is plenty to watch as well as the game. I last 6 innings before the cold wind gets to me but now is a good time to leave as I don’t want to be caught up in the 1000’s leaving after the game. Down on a lower level there is a viewing concourse and as long as you stay behind a line (strictly enforced by an official, as you can imagine) you can get a good close up view of the game. I stop here and watch an innings before I drag my map out again to find the way to some transport…not so easy in the dark when everything looks different. 

Saturday shopping is obviously the thing to do here and many are out in force. I pick up some last minute bargains in some of the stores….all label stuff at ridiculously cheap prices. I then head off to catch the cable car to Lombard Street the “crookedest" street. The red brick road hooks through eight switchbacks in order to alleviate the gravity of the 27 degree slope of the hill. There are traffic wardens at both ends of the section as there is a constant stream of cars and pedestrians.

I catch bus up to the base of Coit tower where there a reviews out over the bay. Coit Tower is 210 ft. high perched on Telegraph Hill. It is the result of a bequeath  to beautify the City of San Francisco. I think the designers deserve to be shot! But the views are good:)
I have dinner in a restaurant across the road and order a salad and some amazing salmon and capers flatbread…ah and a mojito …it’s my last night on "vacation".

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