In our last episode of Amber Describes Her Trip to San Francisco In Excruciating Detail, our heroine (that’s me) was still on Pier 39, admiring the seals. As we left, however, the rain which had been threatening for a while finally started to fall. We’d been walking for hours by this point, so the sensible thing would’ve been to return to the hotel and get some rest, at least until the rain stopped.
We’re not sensible, though, so instead we decided to go straight to the Golden Gate Bridge.
This wasn’t quite as stupid as it sounds. The rain which had just started signalled the start of a two day storm which was due to hit the Bay area. We’d heard about this storm on the weather forecast, where it was being spoken about as if it signalled the End of Days. The rain would wash San Francisco right off the map, the weatherman solemnly informed us, so if we had any sights to see, we’d better get them seen before they were obscured forever by fog.
OK, he didn’t say that last bit. The storm did sound like it would be a pretty bad one, though, and we figured we should see the bridge before it started, so we jumped into a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the side of the bridge closest to the city.
“OH GOD, NOT THE BRIDGE!” said the taxi driver in horror. “What do you want to see THAT for? You can see it from here! And it’s going to rain! RAIN.”
Feeling like the world’s biggest idiots, we explained that we’d quite fancied walking across the bridge. “Actually,” said Terry, “It looks like the rain’s eased off a bit: could you take us to the opposite side, so we can walk back?”
“No,” said the taxi driver.
We all laughed, nervously, for we had assumed this gentleman was being paid to drive us, but obviously this was not the case. Awkward.
“No,” said the driver again, “I most certainly could not. You asked me to take you to this side of the bridge and that’s where I’ll be taking you. Anyway,” he added, “you don’t need to WALK the bridge to be able to SAY you walked the bridge. Just step onto it from this side, then you can say you done it, but you won’t actually have to DO it.”
He chuckled, pleased to have been able to impart such great wisdom to us.
“Tell you what,” I said, leaning forward, “How about you just take us back to the airport? We’ll just look at PHOTOS of the bridge on the internet and then that’ll be even better because we won’t have to see the rest of the city AT ALL!”
Except I only said that in my own head, obviously. Well, I didn’t want to annoy the man. He was actually quite nice. He just REALLY hated that bridge.
It seemed useless to try and explain to the driver that we didn’t want to just SAY we’d walked the bridge, we actually wanted to DO it, so we meekly got out of the cab at the place of his choosing, paid him, and, of course, tipped him for his trouble. And there it was:
“That’s rubbish!” we all chorused. “We should’ve just stayed at home and looked at a photo of it instead!”
No, I’m joking. It was well worth seeing in person. I mean, it’s quite some bridge, no?
Obligatory “arm out” photo. I promise we did actually GO to San Francisco. We didn’t just Photoshop that same photo of us on images of the various landmarks, although more on that in my next post…
We walked out to the middle, before the wind and rain forced us back, as we realised that if we walked all the way across we’d just have to turn and walk all the way back in the rain (The Other Side being a place where taxi drivers will not go, obviously…). Also, although he’ll probably kill me for saying this, one member of our party is not fond of heights, and was finding the constant shaking and groaning of the bridge just a little bit disconcerting:
He did conquer his fears, though. And he even found time for a quick low-level plank:
I did suggest that a plank on the side of the bridge would’ve been more impressive, but he suggested I take a running jump off the bridge if I was going to indulge in crazytalk, so that was that.
We still weren’t done, though. You really wish we were, don’t you? The rain had stopped again, so we headed first of all to the famous Painted Ladies:
After that, we walked to the Haight Ashbury district which, as I heard one passer-by say, “Is where the 60s happened.” It’s crammed full of vintage and second hand shops, and basically has a lot of counter-culture type stuff, which makes it endlessly interesting for a walk around. Haight Street is also home to the Bettie Page store where I bought this dress, so needless to say, I loved it.
THEN we headed back to the hotel.
In a taxi.
In the taxi, Terry made the mistake of telling the driver we were making the trip to Alcatraz the next day.
“OH GOD, NOT ALCATRAZ!” exclaimed the driver in horror. “Man, I hate that place. Worst day out ever. Seriously, you guys are about to have the most boring day of your lives. I’ve been twice, and I have NEVER been so bored. GOD.”
“Well, where would YOU go in San Francisco, if you were us?” Terry asked.
The driver thought for a moment.
“Honestly?” he said. “I’d just go home, get an early night.”
We didn’t, though.
And the next day? We headed straight to Alcatraz.