Day 34 – San Francisco – Leg Day & Party in the Park

Today I woke up bright and early to check out of my hostel and head to the bicycle rental store around the corner. Today I’d remain on the tourist trail and cycle through the peaceful bliss of the park and then proceed to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a famous cycle route although with the cold I expected not to see too many people on my route. I could not have been more wrong…

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Somehow I had managed to organise my peaceful cycle ride on the same day as College Street Party which coincided with a 10 km race that basically mimicked the cycle route I was taking. The race had long since finished but the party continued despite the protests of the police, who were closing things down block by block only for parties to spring up in areas they previously shut down. In all honesty I was so so tempted to sack off the whole cycling thing and try to crash a party somewhere but I hadn’t seen enough of San Francisco yet and I had too much to do. I settled for enjoying the entertainment as a spectator. And what a spectacle it was:

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I was completely dumb founded. Whenever I’ve met Americans in the past they’ve been complete lightweights and I’m pretty sure that stereotype is still true. However I’d always assumed the frat parties you see in the movies are completely over hyped and not remotely close to the real deal. However, now I’ve seen it for myself I can confirm, as much as I hate to admit it, College kids now how to party. That photo of the house with the enormous crowd outside belonged to the some of the college band members and they were in full force blasting out anthems. People clambered on roofs, hung out of windows and chilled on fire escapes. As the day went on, the amount of clothing utilised diminished and when I came across an entire fraternity (male) whose dress code was naked I decided it was time to move on.

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Although my first photo was photo bombed by a stray Ironman I did eventually get to a point whereby I could take some photos of the magnificent beach. Unfortunately, in doing so I had inadvertently put myself on the track recommended for elite cyclists and the only way back was through the masses of students now heading to the beach. And so the workout began.

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I haven’t been cycling in a very long time and I haven’t done anything resembling exercise since my ankle injury a couple of months ago. In all honesty, it was hell. I repeatedly had to walk the bike when the hills got too steep and my legs burned the entire time. Looking back on it now though it was absolutely worth it. The views from the top of that Hill were sensational.

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I then proceeded to cross what must be the windiest cycle path in the States. On the bridge itself the gusts are so strong that a man had perched himself for lunch at a particularly bad section to watch and laugh as countless cyclists tumbled off their bikes and struggled to get up again. Fortunately I escaped this hilarious fate by a whisker and made it to the end unscathed.

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Unfortunately I had spent too long in the park so I wasn’t able to visit the Giant Redwoods to the north and instead had to return to the bay area on the ferry.

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It was an incredible day in an amazing city. Apart from making me feel like I wish I could afford to do a second degree in the States, I also found the city that would be my choice to live if I moved there. Back to Los Angeles!

Day 32 – San Francisco – Wish I had a Bouncy Ball

After a 15 hour bus journey I arrived and promptly fell asleep in San Francisco. Soon enough I was up and decided to walk across the city to the coast and attempt to catch my first view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a distance.

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As I walked through the city it was everything I’d imagined it to be. Ever since that Sony Vaio advert with the bouncy balls I’d wanted to visit this city. The streets rolled over hills and were completely unforgiving. If you didn’t know your way through the sporadic mounds then you’d best be prepared for a workout. It’s very difficult to capture the gradient of these streets in a photo but believe me, there’s a reason why motorised bicycles are so popular in this city.

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Pier 39 is a little over priced and touristy for my liking but it does present some great views across the bay. Alcatraz is quite a spectacle as it sits ominous way out in the water. Unfortunately the tours were booked out for my entire stay in San Francisco so I wouldn’t get the chance to see it this time around. There’s also a local sea lion centre which is quite amusing to watch, especially when the enormous ones try to get up on the platforms only to flop against the sides and back down into the water again. The Golden Gate Bridge is also just visible from that lookout point although slightly obscured in the sea mist.

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After some excellent Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl I headed back into town and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the park. San Francisco is a beautiful city and I’d pretty much fallen in love with it with just a small walk across a tiny fraction. A couple of days later I cycled a lot further.

If you missed it, here’s my post on what I did the next day, the FA Cup Final!