Category Archives: Urban Hiking

Urban Hiking

San Francisco hill

The uniformed lady shook her head and informed me that my planned walking route into Chinatown was no good. “It’s all hill,” she said, not realizing that she’d just confirmed my decision.

parking "SF style"

San Francisco’s drastic changes in elevation are no exaggeration. Cars systematically park with wheels turned in to the curb. The Metro buses and trolleys run strategically up and down the steepest slopes. Women do not where high heels without ready transportation available, but it’s a great walking city and navigating San Francisco is excellent exercise.

AlcatrazChinatown is always worth a wander as is the Embarcadero along the Bay. After a ferry crossing, Alcatraz is an engrossing ramble rich with eerie histories, and Golden Gate Park holds miles of parkland and gardens.

pier

I walked alone the last time, meeting people, taking photos, and just breathing it all in. I enjoyed wandering with vague purposes and grand appreciations and found myself gently nudging some lingering memories from my last visit there with an 11-year old boy who is now a young man.

A bike ride to Sausalito and late ferry ride back to the city, a run across the Golden Gate Bridge, an exotic pet store in Chinatown, breakfast crepes on a pier…   We jammed a lot into our time there some nine years ago and even more in the years that followed.  Life stayed “busy” the whole way through.

cable car

I’m so glad we took the time to hang off the sides of a few cable cars together.


San Francisco Things To Do

Consider the Fairmont Hotel for your overnight stay and enjoy elegant accommodations and memorable dining.  The historic Tonga Room features live music on a floating stage and periodic “rainstorms,” complete with thunder and lightning.

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Spelled Out in Gothic Barcelona

Even amidst the brain fog that will drift into any 25-hour day it was unlikely we would forget we were in Barcelona last summer. And these bold metal letters near the Catedral de Barcelona were solid proof that our city amble was no dream. Rich with the Roman remnants of a 2000 year history, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) remains the heart of this lively Spanish city.

The ancient section is a labyrinth of narrow streets punctuated by courtyards and placas -larger squares that are hubs of activity and commerce. Our day’s exploration took us first through the Portal del Bisbe, a city entrance dating back to the time of Emperor Augustus.

From there we found the Placa del Rei and ambled on to the Placa St. Miguela. Eventually, at sunset. we arrived at the 15th century church Santa Maria del Pi where age-old histories infused the medieval architecture with a haunting sort of beauty that made the afternoon an almost otherworldly sort of experience. An evening of sushi and wine on our seventh floor balcony primed us for the next day’s explorations.

 

 

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Asian “Island” in America

Lanterns and TransAmerica

Dating back to the 1850’s, Chinatown San Francisco is the oldest such district in North America and the largest outside of Asia. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1848, predating the California gold rush.

Where at first the Chinese faced exclusion in California and the rest of America -their children barred from public schools and their employment and housing opportunities diminished by targeted legislation, they persevered and created a thriving haven of inclusion and cultural celebration. The sights, sounds and aromas of present day Chinatown stir the soul, whether drawn in collectively as a sort of cultural potpourri or observed one lively detail at a time.

The Transamerica Pyramid rising a total of 260 meters in the distance is a familiar face of San Francisco and a startling contrast  to “old world” Chinatown when spotted beyond its dangling red lanterns.

San Francisco Things To Do

Find a list of the best San Francisco hotels here at Oyster.com .

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