Fish, boats, bridges and chocolate

For our first full day in San Francisco we did the full on tourist thing by having a huge breakfast, queuing at Powell Street depot to catch a classic San Francisco cable car and heading to Fisherman’s Wharf.

The cable car was fab – a little surreal after having seen them in films and tv programmes for years but great fun. The blokes who work on the cars banter all the way, making everyone smile. When you see just how steep the hills are it’s amazing how these little wooden cars zip up and down them. It’s also amazing how a state as famously litigious as California happily allows people to hang off the sides of the cable cars – Bob and I did it on the way back and it’s scary!

Fisherman’s Wharf was everything a seaside town in England is: a little bit tacky, loud, colourful and fun. What I loved immediately about it was the music – it’s all over San Francisco but on every street corner in Fisherman’s Wharf musicians were playing jazz, reggae, terrifyingly enthusiastic rock and roll piano (the lady doing this looked like Madge from Neighbours) and even lift ‘Muzak’ without the lift…

And then there was food. We’re fast learning that music and food are the bedrock of everything in this city and Fisherman’s Wharf is no exception. Clam chowder served in hollowed out bread bowls, hot dogs, ice cream and lots of crabs.

Bob and I bought a CityPass which along with covering all our transport also gives us free entry to attractions. One of these was a boat trip out into the San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz island. It’s definitely my favourite thing so far. The bridge is a lot smaller than you expect it to be, but gorgeous nevertheless. The view of San Francisco from out in the Bay was stunning, too. I’ll post pics later thus week, hopefully but watch twitter for them, too.

Bob had great fun in the Bay Aquarium, especially loving the jellyfish and, oddly, an Opossum (not swimming, thankfully).

We then walked to the famous Ghirardelli Square – set on the site of a former chocolate and mustard factory that then became an entertainment hub and is now a stylish shopping centre with boutique shops and cafes. It has a great, laid-back vibe and is somewhere Nell is definitely going to visit!

It’s fantastic to be walking streets that my main character in book 5 will be seeing and I definitely needed to come here to understand why so many people are in love with this city. San Francisco is a place very at home in its own skin, fiercely proud of itself and so laid-back that you find yourself walking around with a smile…

More soon!

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