My first impressions of San Francisco were the worst as we drove into the city over the Bay Bridge to meet dirty streets with homeless people, needle exchanges and food banks.
Our Hostel, HI San Fran City Centre was recommended by a friend and is located on the edge of the Tenderloin district. The hostel itself was nice, but being met outside by someone asking you for your money/cigarettes (I don’t smoke) or expecting you to listen to their life story was less than pleasant.
The police sirens passing all night every night also got old quickly.
On the definite plus side was the availability of cheap restaurants with fantastic comfort food on our doorstep.
It took a couple of days for us to venture out far enough to get better impressions of San Francisco and see what a beautiful city it is. In places the views certainly reminded me of my home city of Wellington.
We spent one dismal, wet afternoon catching a ferry out to Alcatraz and seeing the old jail. The rain did not let up and by the end of the outing I was soaked through. A television documentary series airing in the USA and this mythbusters episode have heightened the popularity of this attraction and it was pretty cool to walk around and get a feeling of the events which happened inside through the self-guided audio tour.
My personal highlight was seeing the San Francisco Ballet perform, a company I have held in high esteem for much of my life.
I also took some time out from sight seeing to see 21 Jump Street – when you’re in a movie theatre you could be in any city in the world and the temporary frustrations which arise when you’re travelling are forgotten.
I really want to go back, first impressions of San Francisco aside, it is without a doubt one of the world’s great cities.