Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 80

I got up this morning and went for a forty minute run around the trail that passes our hotel and follows the perimeter of the bay. It was a decent run but I was a bit tired from all of the walking of the last two days.

After the run, I caught a few rays out by the pool.

We cleaned up and drove into town. Traffic was a nightmare and it took ages to find parking but we did it.

We walked up Columbus Avenue a few blocks to Bike & Roll to rent a couple of bikes for the day. We got the sizing and paperwork sorted and set off on our way back down the street. We stopped after only a few blocks for a bite to eat in Justa Bite Cafe which was interesting. The couple running the place were Asian and had to keep asking us what we had ordered. I'm not sure if they didn't understand English or just couldn't keep a thought in their heads for more than three seconds. In the end they got it right and my sambo was really nice - ham & pineapple.

Feeling fueled up, we cycled down Columbus and made our way over to the Bay Bridge.

The Bay Bridge spans across the bay and links the cities of San Francisco and Oakland. It opened in November of 1936 - six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It is one of the busiest bridges in America, carrying over 280,000 vehicles per day.

Then we continued on our way, cycling along Embarcadero all the way to AT&T Park.

AT & T opened on April 11, 2000 and has a very unique story. The Giants were struggling in the early 90s and were being threatened with a move to Florida. At the last minute, owner Peter Magowan stepped in with an ambitious financing plan and AT & T became the first privately financed ballpark since Dodger Stadium in 1962. The park features nine foot statues of all the greats who have played for the Giants throughout the years as well as eighty foot Coke bottle with playground slides and miniature baseball park behind left field. Since opening AT & T has consistently broken records for season ticket sales as well as records for chartered seat sales. It also happened to be home of that guy who did a bunch of performance enhancing drugs and then hit all of those home runs. I was pretty bummed out that the Giants weren't in town as I would have loved to get a game in. The park is meant to have a classic, old-time feel with all of the amenities of modern parks. Apparently, it was inspired by both Wrigley and Fenway.

From there we went through SoMa along Mission Street all the way to Ashbury. No trip to SF is complete without going to Haight-Ashbury. What a place! Everyone that we saw was completely off their brackets and some of the people looked like they hadn't seen a straight, sober day in years.

The Haight is a district that encompasses a neighborhood which was famous for it's role in the 60's hippie movement. Due to cheap rooms and vacant properties, many of the 19th century houses in Haight-Ashbury become home for the large amount of hippies and bohemian subculture that flourished in the area. Many psychedelic rock stars such as Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin also called the district home.

We parked up in Ashbury and went for a bit of a stroll down Haight Street. Very interesting.

Haight Street was made famous during the Summer Of Love in 1967 for its' Human Be-In. It ushered in the psychedelic era but fell apart very quickly due to rampant drug abuse and violence. The remnants are still there today and when we cycled past Golden Gate Park there was some guy singing 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' by Stevie Wonder. Except he was singing to and about Jesus. Then some girl stepped up to the mic and started reading scripture. It was all a bit odd...

We had a look in Haight T-Shirt Shop and despite some quality shirts we didn't buy anything. Either they didn't have our sizes or they were too small, too big or too expensive. It also didn't help matters because we couldn't try the ones that we liked on.

Just outside the shop is the famous corner with the two street signs and the stopped clock.

As I was trying to get a picture of the street corner, some scruffy, strung-out hippie told me to take two steps to my left so that I could include the clock in the picture. He then told the story about the clock that is frozen in time at 4:20. Apparently, Jerry Garcia's mum took a picture of the very same corner and when she did the clock stopped. Fact, fiction or hippie folklore? Who knows? But the dude telling the story was very entertaining (and no doubt probably
very high as well).

We got back on the bikes and cycled a few more blocks to Amoeba Records.

I had read that this was THE place to go for music in San Francisco. Sweet mercy! The place is huuuge and they have everything. We didn't have the time, heads or wallets to do the kind of damage we would have liked but we had a good look around. I would come back to SF for a lot of reasons and one of them would be to spend a few hours in this place. There are over 1,000,000 compact discs in the shop!

With spinning heads, we walked down the road to Escape From NY Pizza for a slice.

The pizza was really good but there wasn't a toilet in the place. And, as always, I was bursting. Trying to find a jacks on Haight Street is next to impossible. Everywhere is for customers only and they really mean it. Doors are locked, contain buzzers or are just watched by staff who yell at you as soon as you go near the door without having purchased something. I suppose it is necessary when you are in one of the drug capitols of the world. We eventually found a coffee shop and sorted everything out.

Back on the bikes, we realised that were running out of time and daylight. I think that Paulo was also really starting to feel topographically challenged on the bike. We made our best effort to get to the Golden Gate Bridge but couldn't do it. We cycled north to Presidio Park and then along the 49 Mile Scenic Drive.

But the sun was setting and the bikes had to be back to the shop. We went back along Lombard street then turned left on to Van Ness in order to avoid the 'hill' that Paulo was having absolutely none of.

We returned the bikes and then walked into North Beach again for a beer. We found a place called Rogue which had great beer but dreadful staff. I ordered some chili and had a couple of Shakespeare Stouts while Paulo opted for the Pear Cider.

We were both a bit tired so we walked back to the car and headed back to the hotel very early. We chilled out with some television before hitting the scratcher after another long day.

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