Sir Francis Drake stopped in the area in 1579 on his celebrated voyage around the world. The city of San Francisco was founded in 1776. It grew in leaps and bounds, from a tiny settlement of a few hundred people to a large town when the Gold Rush started in the 19th century. Today San Francisco is definitely one of the most picturesque cities on earth. Situated between the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, connected by the Golden Gate Strait, with the houses perched on top of the hills and the streets going up and down, it is a great monument to human achievement. If at all possible, be sure to approach it by ferry at least once, so that you can enjoy the amazing panorama and see all the gorgeous bridges, the tall buildings and the long piers. Walk along the embankment, shop around, have lunch in one of the cafes facing the ocean and bay, watch sour dough bread shaped into funny animal figures and baked right there, buy some chocolate-dipped apples and chocolate made at the old Ghirardelli Factory, look at quirky city sculptures. One of the big attractions is the pier where literally thousands of seals and sea-lions loll around on huge wooden platforms floating on the water. The smell and the constant baying are not to be forgotten. Along the sandy beach, one can read cautions: “Beware of animals when swimming!” When humans swim in wet-suits, the animals may mistake them for one of their own. If it is the mating season, who knows what threat a sea-lion may see in a human swimmer who gets too close to his herd.
It may be quite chilly on the ocean front; one of the best-sold items is the reversible San Francisco jacket. As Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever had to endure was July in San Francisco”.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a feast for the eyes. One of its attractions is the white fog which comes suddenly and swiftly, practically in the couple minutes it takes you to find a spot and have a camera trained on you, so if you want to have a good picture, be quick! From the pier, tourists go to the famous tram station. There is a long line of tourists waiting to board a tram and get the thrill of their lives. First, drivers get out and manually turn the tram around. Then, people get on the tram, and some brave ones even hang half-out, holding tight to the rails. Off it runs, descending almost vertically down some streets, and climbing on what looks like sheer hills up others. That easily recognizable street where the cars jump, which we all know from countless action movies, has an angle of 45 degrees. When you are on a moving tram, it seems like 90! When you get out, you can stop and watch the drivers repeat their manual task, turning the trams back on the roundabout. Now you find yourself in the center, among many familiar chain stores, souvenir shops, and spectacular sights. I confess I really appreciated the street toilets, too. Once you get inside, the door closes with a soft whoosh, and you see a sign: “If you can’t figure out how to open the door, don’t worry, it will open automatically in 10 minutes”. Don’t dawdle:) One can see tourists trekking up and down on narrow stairways which line many streets, winding along among flowerbeds and palm-trees. There is an observation terrace high above the city, with the tall circular tower which has an obvious nickname. The view is worth the climb.
The TV show “Charmed” shows the city with all its lovely places of interest to perfection. One can feel that the creators love it, and wish to convey their attitude to the viewers.