Tuesday, August 19, 2008

San Francisco

Why it is always the case that some essential moments are never mentioned in books, booklets and movies (San Francisco is so popular that it appears in all sorts of sources of information so frequently, nonetheless…)?

I would never guess that San Francisco is a cold city, but it is!
How cold it is here in comparison with the rest of California!
In one hour we drove from 36 degrees on the plains of California to 20 degrees in San Francisco.
From a monthly guide to SF in our hotel room I learnt that August here is “like the dawn of a new day. Cool summer temperatures begin to subside this month as warm weather rolls in and fog lifts by the afternoon”.
I am not sure I can say that cool temperatures subside when they reach 20 degrees in summer, and restaurants on the streets burn gas burners for their patrons, otherwise being on the street is unbearable.
By the way, last week they had 15 degrees max during the day! According to the local, the better month suppose to be September. One month a year fog sort of lifts above the city and you can see the sun. For the rest of the year, hot air from Sierra meets cold air from the ocean here. As a result it is always foggy and cold here!
Who calls it “summer”? It is worse than in Siberia!!! When we travelled in Siberia last year we had 30+ degrees for the whole week. Here they are happy to have 20 and call it “warm”! It is equal to our winter in the Northern Rivers. We meant to escape our winter but in SF we came back to the same winter environment, but even worse in some ways. It is so windy, that I could not continue our first expedition to China Town; I had to buy a fleece, otherwise I would die on the streets of SF. I caught a cold anyway and now I have a blocked nose.

And the fog, of course! I never knew that this city sank into a fog cloud. In the movies it is always sunny in SF, clear sky and people are dressed for a beach outing. What a fog they have here! The most remarkable fog ever! It covers tops of high buildings as if they are mountains and it moves so fast that I felt that the whole street floated with it. I have never seen before clouds shooting through the roof tops like missiles (nearly).

And the bridge! The one which suppose to be famous is invisible due to the fog, and another one, which is not famous even if it is a copy (sort of) of the Golden Gate bridge is grey!

Famous China Town in San Francisco was our first destination! Visually it is less impressive than Sydney China Town: the gates look insignificant, there is no well designed street as it is in Sydney, or even in Brisbane for that matter. Australian China Towns were designed quite recently, according to the modern ideas of beauty and comfort, that’s why they have a strong element of fake decorative purpose. SF China Town formed well before anybody thought of comfort for pedestrians, and this place is authentic, especially in contents. I would love to shop here! I am afraid no airline will tolerate excessive luggage…

Apart from China Town there are many entertaining things in this city. Outside the CBD – designed in 1970s therefore boring and full of copies of Twin World Towers: square and rectangular – and well before sleeping suburbs full of monotonous residential developments there is a band of old residential suburbs built well before modern regulations. They keep flavours of the past, full of architectural and topographical surprises and excesses, pretty and charming. In between there are streets of busy cafes and restaurants, small shops and old churches, sex industry streets and well designed gardens. This is the best of San Francisco with international and historical flavours. We would be happy to spend more time there, but alas… it is time to go.

We will remember busy streets, fat seagulls, sleepy and horny sea lions on the Pier 39, practically invisible in the fog Golden Gate Bridge (we will remember that we hardly could see it!!!), twisted and steep streets, the magnificent collections of the Modern Art Museum and Asian Art Museum, cold winds along the streets and strange optical effects on the water and in the air…

San Francisco is a city to remember, and to visit, but, please, get dressed for a cold weather


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