Friday, December 5, 2008

San Francisco...Trolleys and Buses!

We left Red Bluff early on Thursday to drive to San Francisco. It was really foggy, but that isn't unusual and it normally burns off quickly. But this was a little different...this was the scene for the first hour of the drive. After that it was a lovely sunny day in California!

We're driving into San Francisco here. I say it was lovely and sunny and it was, but sadly, also very smoggy.

My first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge...

Here is Alcatraz, a military prison before it became a federal prison in 1934. It closed in 1963.

Look at the beautiful flowers! The temperature at this time of year is around 18 degrees. You see people in everything from sleeveless tops to winter jackets. They don't know our winter!

A mass of cables for the trolley buses and streetcars...

We went to the Hyatt Regency to see the Christmas decorations and they were beautiful! Here are just a few of the scenes...I wish we could have gotten closer to them...

The whole display is huge with moving skaters, cars, trains and airplanes!

Everytime you walked around it, you would see something new. I can't imagine how many hours it takes to set it up!

A scene of San Francisco highlights, including the Golden Gate Bridge...

All the figures in the midway were moving...

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency itself is something to see! It looks like this year round...

We went to dinner at a restaurant called The Waterfront. It was excellent and we walked around the waterfront area afterwards. We noticed tons of runners, both men and women, running alone. Not something you would see in a lot of big cities...

The Bay Bridge at night...

I love how they outline the buildings with lights. It was so pretty!

The next morning we walked downtown to do a city tour on the double decker tour buses. It is quite a walk downtown from where we were staying, but it is all downhill, so very pleasant. The hills in San Francisco are something to see!

Jim is pretending to look at the map, but I think he is secretly trying to figure out how to buy this Lamborghini...

City Hall built in 1915. It was a replacement for the original building which was completely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The dome is the fifth largest in the world.

One of the many hills and the beautiful old homes...

The Painted Ladies is a term used to describe Victorian and Edwardian houses which have been painted in a such a way to enhance their architectural details.

The Golden Gate suspension bridge was completed in 1937. A team of 38 painters works year round to keep its orange paint fresh.


The beautiful waterfront with Alcatraz in the background...

Gorgeous day!

A cable car ride! I am excitedly sitting on the far right! Some commuters use the cable cars for transportation up the steep hills. They jump on, hang on the side and jump off a few streets later. But because of the cost, it is mostly a tourist attraction now. A one way trip is $5, but you can ride all day for $11. Jim remembers it being $1 and other people we talked to remembered when it was 10 cents.

It's the world's last permanently operational manually operated cable car system. They obey the same rules as cars, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and cars drive along in front or behind them. The cars run on underground cables and the operator pulls on a large lever to apply and release the brakes.


One of the many hills...one of them has an grade of 31 percent. Crazy!

Jim opting for the hang-on ride. Not for me!

Take a trip on the cable car with us! The drivers sing and whistle and tell jokes. They are very good natured...you would have to be to drive around crazy tourists all day!

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A beautiful view of San Francisco from the top of one of the hills...

This may not look steep, but once you get rolling it's a great hill!

We did a one way trip from Fisherman's Wharf to Market Street and enjoyed it so much we turned around and did it again. Here is how they turn the cars around at the end of the line. In the background you can hear a busker playing Christmas carols on a saxophone.

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Back at the Wharf again with the bridge in the background.

Look at the steep uphill! This is one that the cable car goes up. You need great brakes in the city and I don't think it would be much fun to drive a standard!

Ghiradelli Square...yum! In 1893, Domingo Ghiradelli purchased the entire city block to make it into the headquarters for the Ghiradelli Chocolate Company. In 1960 it was bought by a macroni company which moved its headquarters off-site and put the block up for sale. Rather than seeing it replaced with apartment buildings, a mother and son purchased it and converted the brick buildings into shops and restaurants.

We jumped back on the double decker bus to complete our tour. It was around 4:30 and you can see how many people we had to fight for seats...

The tallest building in San Francisco is the Transamerica Pyramid at 853 feet. The green flatiron building beside it (the Sentinal Building) was built prior to 1906 and survived the earthquake. It was purchased in 1970 by Francis Ford Coppola to save it from any further disrepair and restoration has brought it back to the beautiful building it is today.

Look at that magnificent sky!

The financial district....like any big city...

The old and the new...a cable car blends in with other traffic...

To top off a great day, we went to see the Phantom of the Opera. I love that show so much. It's been about 10 years since we have seen it, but this production was the best we have seen. The music is so wonderful!

I think San Francisco is my new favourite city! The people are incredibly friendly; it's a big city without all the pretentiousness of a lot of big cities. Beautiful climate and scenery...a great day!

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