In May, 2006, I spent four full days touring San Francisco, California, U.S.A. I flew American Airlines into San Francisco International Airport and took a taxi to Hotel Rex, located downtown near Union Square. The hotel's central location was perfect for me because I used public transportation as much as possible. The weather was also perfect. The sky was sunny and the daytime temperature was around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
I rode the cable car to Chinatown and joined a walking tour provided by the City Guides. Our tour guide has conducted Chinatown tours for approximately 25 years. Although the City Guides was a free service, I gave a donation.
I boarded Muni bus 39 that took me up the steep Telegraph Hill to the Coit Tower. Even at the base of the tower, which stood at the top of Telegraph Hill, the view of the city was fantastic. I bought a ticket and rode the small elevator to the top of the tower.
From the Coit Tower, I walked down the Filbert Steps. Many houses were built on the very steep hill and their beautify gardens were planted along the steps. The view of the San Francisco Bay was magnificent. A very short walk took me to the Levi Strauss headquarters. I toured its visitor center inside the lobby.
I arrived early at the Legion of Honor, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It was still closed and very few people was around. From the parking lot, the Golden Gate Bridge was visible. My favorite exhibit was "After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire" by photographer Mark Klett.
The Golden Gate Bridge cannot be missed. Being Sunday afternoon, a large crowd of tourists and local cyclists gathered at the bridge, but they did not affect the beautiful views.
A ferry operated by the Blue and Gold Fleet took me to the Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. Beside being a historic prison, the island has been a bird sanctuary. I carefully approached several seagulls and took some close-up photographs of the birds. On the return trip back to the city, I stood on the top deck of the ferry. Several seagulls hovered in the air to take advantage of the strong sea breeze and I photographed them in flight.
At Fisherman's Wharf, the sea lions laid on the wooden docks at Pier 39. Just seeing these animals had made visiting Fisherman's Wharf worthwhile.
A short cable car ride from Fisherman's Wharf took me to the crookedest section of Lombard Street. The cable car put me at the top of the hill, so I walked down Lombard Street.
I highly recommend visiting the San Francisco Art Institute , an art school. The building was nestled in a residential neighborhood on Russian Hill. It was open to the public, so I walked in and rested for a few minutes by the pond just inside the entrance. Then I discovered the fantastic view of the city from the institute's terrace. The cafe was closed. I recommend getting some lunch at the cafe and enjoy the view leisurely.
Muni bus 30 took me to the Yerba Buena Gardens, a beautifully landscaped public plaza in downtown San Francisco. The Gardens was surrounded by the Moscone Convention Center, Sony Metreon, and S. F. Museum of Modern Art. The most impressive feature in the Gardens was the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, a water and granite sculpture. I don't have any photos of the S. F. Museum of Modern Art because photography was banned in the museum.
I had lunch at the historic Ferry Building, where passenger ferries dock. Inside the building, I found cafes, farmers' shops, wine shops, and sea food shops. I enjoyed having lunch there with a view of the Bay Bridge. The place was also very popular with the local folks during lunch.