Monday, March 22, 2010

San Francisco

Rollercoaster streets, countless countercultures, salt-lick breeze… San Francisco has an atmosphere of genteel chic mixed with offbeat innovation and a self-effacing quality so blatantly missing from brassy New York and plastic LA. Its hilly streets provide some gorgeous glimpses of the sparkling bay and its famous bridges.

When to Go:
Pick a month of the year and there's always a festival or street party on somewhere in San Fran. Unless a bit of fog or a brisk morning perturbs you, you can't go too wrong visiting the city. The best months to come are either side of the summer peak season, with the Septem
ber to November period being particularly festive.

San Francisco is a popular location any time of the year. Summer is the prime tourist season, but its summer weather is none too hospitable anyway: the bay is often foggy, while inland or north in the Wine Country it's often too hot and dusty for comfort. Local weather patterns are highly unpredictable, but generally the best months weather-wise are between mid-September and mid-November.

Within the compact city centre, walking is a pleasurable way to get around, but there's a solid transport network backing you up when perambulation seems too pedestrian. San Francisco's principal public transport system is Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), which operates nearly 100 bus lines (many of them electric trolley buses), streetcars and the famous cable cars.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is a convenient, economical subway system linking San Francisco with the East Bay.

Ferries are a scenic way to get around.A car is more of a liability than an asset in downtown San Francisco: hills are steep and parking spots few. If you're considering a taxi, the best way is to phone. For most visitors, the thought of hopping a bicycle in the city is gruesome - there's too much traffic and the hills are fearsome - but the Bay Area is a great place for recreational biking.
underground rail

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is a convenient, economical subway system linking San Francisco with the East Bay.
FerriesFerries are back in business, plying the waters from Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero Ferry Building to Alameda, Oakland, Sausalito, Tiburon and the bay islands.
Where else can you travel in a tourist attraction from one tourist highlight to another? As well as getting you around its three downtown routes, a ride in one of San Francisco's old-fashioned, open-air, seemingly dangerous cable cars can be exhilarating fun. The subterranean rumbling on Market St is an underground light-rail run by the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), that weaves its way through downtown San Francisco. Downtown, Muni stations are the same as BART stations.
Along with the Muni light-rail and cable cars, Muni buses will get you almost anywhere in the city. A Muni passport allows unlimited travel on all Muni transports and is available from Visitor Information Centres, hotels and from businesses that display the Muni pass sign in their window.

CarA car is the last thing you want in downtown San Francisco: negotiating the hills and trying to find a parking spot are going to stress both you and your machine. For travelling further afield though - up to the Wine Country for example - a car can be invaluable.
Taxis are tough to secure in San Francisco; you may find phoning one easier than whistling or waving your hand on street corners, especially during peak hours, but even that's no guarantee.
AirportSan Francisco International Airport is located approximately 20 kilometres from the city centre.

Celebrity chefs on every corner, and for every occasion.

San Francisco's culinary strengths are the diversity of its influences, which stretch from Europe to Asia, and its wealth of high-quality, moderately-priced choices as well as prestigious restaurants. Not content to just follow fashion, San Francisco has its own treasured culinary traditions.

More bars than Alcatraz. 
Hedonism must be built into the local DNA from the giddy days of gold fever: no doubt about it, San Franciscans like to get out. The city may be known for its restaurants, but its citizens spend even more of their time in bars, clubs and theatres.

Your interest is bound to be 'peaked' by all those hills.
The city's steepness makes for some wonderfully panoramic viewpoints. Spread out below you is an appetising mix of colourful neighbourhoods, bohemian history, mind-teasing art, innovative architecture and restorative parks. Go explore - by foot if you're particularly sprightly, by cable car if not.

Love to shop in the Haight for a one-in-a-million oddity.
San Francisco's shopping is best for small, quirky items. Sure, there are big department stores and an international selection of name-brand boutiques, but the oddities are a lot more fun. Check out Hayes Valley and the Haight for lateral-leaning goods.

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