San Francisco: First Impressions

Sat, Jul 7, 2007

travel articles

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…

… and a windbreaker, because it’s frickin’ cold. That wind blasts in right off the coast. Still, it’s mostly sunny and summerish right now. The streets are steep, with rolling cable cars bulging with tourists and the bell being pulled and the clackety-clack on the tracks. Everyone vanishes over the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf, where clam chowder and boat trips and sea lions on the dock await.

If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there…

… and some crack addicts, if you linger around Union Square. Apparently homeless drug addicts are more prevalent here than anywhere else in the States. The SF Chronicle devotes an entire section of their site to it, with sensitive, illuminating articles.

Meanwhile. suits pace in the Financial District, shoppers bustle through markets selling herbs and teas in Chinatown, hipsters sip espresso and ponder life in North Beach, while tourists scurry to galleries in Soma and face the wind heading over the Golden Gate Bridge.

For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there…

Really? I’ll have to look for the love-in. It wasn’t on my walk today.

All across the nation such a strange vibration…

The two major earthquakes here were in 1906 (followed by a gigantic fire) and 1989. Haven’t felt a tremor yet…

In The Art of Travel, philosopher and writer Alain de Botton notes that before we visit a place our expectations are unrealistically molded by images of it we’ve already seen in another context, either on TV, on postcards, in films etc. My impressions of San Francisco were thus founded on the following:

A giant, green, angry, scantily-clad man running up steep hills (Incredible Hulk). A deadbeat dad masquerading as a Scottish nanny (Mrs Doubtfire). A teenage girl from Russian Hill being rescued from the ordinary by her grandmother, who informs her that she is a princess of a small European country (The Princess Diaries). Privileged kids living by Alamo Square in a picture-perfect Victorian house (Full House). A lost soul leaping off the pier next to the Golden Gate Bridge (Vertigo).

Vertigo aside, I’m cringing at that list of ‘entertainment’.

What about you? Have you visited San Francisco? What were your impressions?next day viagra uk cialis levitra

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8 Responses to “San Francisco: First Impressions”

  1. Rob Meyer Says:

    I call it the “guidebook syndrome”! It seems whenever a really amazing place gets thrust into mainstream culture through music, news, guidebooks, whatever, it gets an almost immediate hit of people who come to exploit it.

    Guess that’s what the 1960′s did to SF, haha!

  2. travelminx Says:

    Well, you could argue that people have been coming to ‘exploit’ SF since the Gold Rushes in the 1800s. (Can you tell I’ve been reading my guidebook? :) )

  3. Richard Callaby Says:

    My impression of the place is shaped by the people I have met there. Since I am a techie I spent some time in San Jose which is about an hour away and the people from there are fantastic! I love the warm, open nature of the other techies in that area.

    However I do have to agree with you that SF is really cold regardless of the time of the year you come. It must be something to do with the wind off the ocean. Also the prices for just about everything are out of this world! That is never good.

    My conclusion is that the people are fantastic but it is just too expensive for me to stay for any extended time period. Although I hope to visit SF again.

  4. travelminx Says:

    Yeah the people are cool. Especially after being in New York – the people are nice there too, but everyone is in such a hurry! It’s a very laid-back vibe here.

  5. Sheila Says:

    SF has its good and bad. I know my very first impression was a bit stressful and made me grip my handbag even tighter. It was in the middle of the day and I didn’t feel all that safe. I’ve been in many international large cities so I know how to hold my own, but I did feel a tad scared in SF.

    There is really an eclectic gathering of people there. Within an hour of being there, my very sweet and courteous husband was called and MFer from an elder lady.

    SF is a pretty city and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to see it, but I’ve been there and done that and won’t be looking for an opportunity to go back, unless it was on my way to Napa Valley.

  6. travelminx Says:

    Hi Sheila. Thanks for your comments. There are definitely some ‘colorful’ characters here!
    I haven’t checked out Napa Valley yet – is it a must-see?

  7. Sheila Says:

    I loved the Napa Valley. I consider it a must see. Plus it is warmer there than SF. I particularly liked the Sterling Winery tour with a cable car ride up to a very picturesque view of the vineyards and valley.
    The Niebaum-Coppola vineyard is also very interesting. We quite liked the Vinifera Journey tour there.

  8. Amy Says:

    My first impression of San Francisco, still today, is the smell. It had a very unique scent in the air. The wooden brakes of the cable cars, all the different ethnic foods cooking.

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