San Francisco

San Francisco Bay area, California
San Francisco Bay area, California

California dream drought

Before I get to the main subject, let’s take a quick excursion on the ongoing drought in California. The Golden State is facing its fourth year of drought. Usually, California gets most of its rain from October to March. During the last few years, the rainfalls within those periods have been pretty scarce. As a result, the Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January 2015, imposing strict conservation measures statewide.

Dry meadows in the middle of California
Dry meadows in the middle of California

As soon es we got out of Yosemite National Park into the heart of California (Merced, Modesto,…) we got a front row seat and look at the extend of the drought. Hundreds of acres of meadows just completely DRY. At some places big trees were fighting for the last drops of water they could find. They were just bone dry…

Dry meadows in the middle of California
Dry meadows in the middle of California

I can only imagine how stressful this must be for the firefighters. Throw away a burning cigarette in this part of the country and you might as well just start a huge fire. Usually, when you sit down in a US restaurant, the waiter brings you tap water right away or at least asks you if you’d want some. Right now in California, waiters are not allowed to ask if someone wants some water, but customers may still order some. It’s a hard tough situation, but people still gotta drink… I guess the good thing about it is that it raises awereness. There is no need to wash your car or water your lawn in times of drought.

Dry meadows in the middle of California
Dry meadows in the middle of California

However, my friends and I were still wondering whether the drought really was that hard. Why? Well, farmers are obviously still allowed to water their fields in order to grow fruits and vegetables everybody needs. Weirdly, we saw many fields being watering in the middle of the day or at around 3 PM. The hottest time of the day, when you first of all, lose a lot of water by evaporation. Second of all, plants being watered while the sun is burning down on them, will do just that: burn through the effect of the lens. Great job fellas! 😦 Why don’t they just set the sprinklers to turn on early in the morning, in the evening, or at night..??

Dry meadows in the middle of California
Dry meadows in the middle of California

Anyway, let’s hope it’ll rain soon and long enough to turn the Golden State green again.

San Francisco

View from Lombard Street, San Francisco, California
View from Lombard Street, San Francisco, California

San Francisco, SF, San Fran, Frisco Disco, The City by the Bay, you name it!! It is in a beautiful city…in many ways. I had been here before six years ago and interestingly I remembered a lot of it this time; Union Square of course, the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina District, just to name a few spots.

Union Square, San Francisco, California
Union Square, San Francisco, California

This time my friends and I stayed at yet another airbnb apartment located in the heart of the Mission District. The landlord, an American of korean origins had been living there for 23 years and decided just recently to rent out his spare rooms. I found it excellent. However, friends didn’t feel comfortable in the beginning at the idea of having to stay at a stranger’s home. Relax, I sad, we’ll be just fine and it’ll cost half as much as a hotel, especially since we stayed there during the 4th July weekend.

Piers at North Beach, San Francisco
Piers at North Beach, San Francisco, California

With one man ‘down’ in terms of walking long distances, three of us rediscovered the northern parts of the city. Obviously, Union Square being in the center of the city right between Tenderloin and the Financial District, there are always lots of tourists and residents moving about. Some of them on purpose, many of them having no sense of direction dropping out of Chinatown while being lost in translation.

View of the Hilton hotel (right) and Oakland bridge, San Francisco, California
View of the Hilton hotel (right) and Oakland bridge, San Francisco, California

Of there is one thing to do in terms of city exploring in San Francisco, then it’s walking up and down some of those very steep street and enjoying the view of the city while doing so. Some cars are fighting to get up there, other drivers are just praying the brakes won’t fail them on the way down. This is probably the only city in the world where you can get sea sick while dring along a perfectly straight road.

Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Powell Street, San Francisco, California

Although San Francisco isn’t a huge city for american standards (about 850’000 for the entire county), every body in the world knows San Francisco or has at least heard about it. The Golden Gate bridge has so far been destroyed in any major apocalypse action movie. Luckily, it was all intact when we came. Man, they must have some fast and enduring bridge builders over there…^^ There is the University of California, Berkeley just on the other side of the bay, as well as many tech companies, such as Pixar, Google, Tesla Motors and many many more in the San Francisco Bay area.

Coit Tower, San Francisco, California
Coit Tower, San Francisco, California

Anyway, sometimes you think you’re far far away from the old continent, here on the pacific coast. But then there is always something to remind you the world east of the atlantic. Such as this Citroën 2CV, which is still wearing its french license plates underneath the US ones. That must have been some roadtrip ‘driving’ all the way over from the Var département to SF.

Citroën 2CV, San Francisco, California
Citroën 2CV, San Francisco, California

Although it’s old and weak, it’s still stylish, probably more so than it ever was when it was still in production. Especially when you compare it to this rather poorly made conversion of a Toyota Prius to a Toyota Pick-up Prius. I guess the owner must be some kind of hipster redneck. 😀

Toyota pick-up Prius, San Francisco, California
Toyota pick-up Prius, San Francisco, California

But let’s move away from the four wheelers and let me show you a view more pictures of the city before we get to a different part of the SD bay area. Okay, let me just make one (two) exception(s): The Volkswagen Beetle and the Transporter T1; two symbols of peace & love, hippy movement of the 1960s and ’70s and ultimately of San Francisco itself. While these models of the 60’s are getting more and more rare to get by, you can still spot some of them in this part of country. At least I do…but do I ever see anything else than cars…^^

Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle), San Francisco, California
Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle), San Francisco, California
Volkswagen T1, San Francisco, California
Volkswagen Transporter T1, San Francisco, California

If you think about it, it’s quite ironic this “People car” Beetle became a symbol for peace and love, considering the fact that you can thank an austrian weirdo with a short mustache called Adolf Hitler for wanting a cheap mass-produced economical car and having Porsche designed it.

Lombard Street, San Francisco, California
Lombard Street, San Francisco, California
Cable Car, Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Cable Car, Powell Street, San Francisco, California
Alcatraz, San Francisco, California
Alcatraz, San Francisco, California

Bike tour from San Francisco to Tiburon via Sausalito

Back your bag, trade in the UBER ride for a bicycle and discover some scenic places around San Francisco! This is something I can definitively recommend to anybody. Although San Francisco is a world famous city, it is not a huge city as has kept a kind of town feeling. Cycling in the city is no big deal. But since you can easily visit the city by foot, why don’t you just cycle out of the city, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.

Golden Gate Bridge, driving of from San Francisco to Sausalito, California
Golden Gate Bridge, driving of from San Francisco to Sausalito, California

I had biked over the bridge before, in 2009. Back then you could walk and cycle on either sides of the bridge. Now it seems as though the authorities have given the pedestrians and the cyclists separate lanes; east side for the pedestrians, west side for the cyclists. As a cyclists it’s a bit of a shame, because you can’t take any pictures of the city from the west side. 😉

Sausalito, California
Sausalito, California

Even though there is nowhere near as much hustle and bustle in San Francisco as in any other famous US cities like New York or presumably Chicago (never been there…yet), riding through Sausalito is just like a stroll in the countryside.

Sausalito city limits, California
Sausalito city limits, California

This is where a lot of wealthy people live. Obviously, living this close to the city yet still in the countryside, on a hille, this close to the pacific ocean… you do the math!

Sausalito, California
Sausalito, California

Sausalito and Tiburon are essentially a built on a couple of very green hills. There is also a big redwood forest in the back country of sausalito, which is easily accessible by bike. As you can see in the following picture, some parts of the Sausalito are also pretty flat and wet.

Sausalito, California
Sausalito, California

Anyway, if you can spend a couple of days in Sausalito and like to bike or simply explore nature, go to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. To be honest, I expected the trees to be much larger than what I saw.

Sausalito, California
Sausalito, California
Redwoods, Sausalito, California
Redwoods, Sausalito, California

I guess the really really really large ones are in the Sequoia National Park. I guess there will always be something to discover the next time.

Redwoods, Sausalito, California
Redwoods, Sausalito, California

As we bike out of Sausalito enter Tiburon, which doesn’t appear to be as hilly. One thing I recall from 2009 is that the house in the following picture appeared to be in bad shape and given it’s old style (is this victorian style…I have no idea!) reminded me of a haunted house.

House in Tiburon, California
House in Tiburon, California

This time however, it was renovated and looked like new. Good news, because that would have been a shame seing this one crumble down into the Richardson Bay.

Docks, Tiburon, California
Docks, Tiburon, California

As we got to the docks and boarded the ferry back to San Francisco’s Pier 39, we passed Angel Island and the notorious Alcatraz Island and also referred to as The Rock.

Alcatraz, San Francisco
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco
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