Back in October, I made a very quick trip to San Francisco. I wondered, what would be the best way to see the city in such a short amount of time? Well, the answer was to take a hop-on hop-off bus tour.
Being the lucky Irish girl that I am, the tour bus pick up zone was literally right around the corner from my hotel. I hopped on and the tour began.
I picked a spot at the very back, on the open top deck. There were only a few people in front of me, and the sun was beaming down from the open sky above. I had all of my cameras (SLR, video and iphone) at the ready and was excited to see some famous sights.
Our first stretch took us along the main streets from the Wharf area to downtown. We passed Lombard (the crooked) Street, the church where Marilyn Monroe was married, and several SF restaurant hotspots.
Next, we drove through the downtown area. We passed many interested buildings, like the window of the room where the Godfather was written.
We saw all of the downtown buildings and skyline, and watched the locals walking around on the streets below us.
The bus zipped along through Golden Gate Park and into the eclectic neighbourhood of Haight and Ashbury. This was probably one of my favourite areas of the city, all of the stores looked like they held such an assortment of random and crazy things. I would have loved to have spent some more time shopping here.
I hopped off at Alamo square to visit the painted ladies. This stop was probably worth the tour price alone, as it made for some amazing photos of the entire skyline behind the houses. It is one of the most photographed scenes in the city.
I spent some time sitting on the grassy hill, just watching everything around me. Dozens of people relaxed in the sunshine on the warm October afternoon. I think that was the moment when I decided that I would one day live in San Francisco.
I hopped back on the bus and we headed toward the most famous attraction of all; the Golden Gate Bridge.
I had seen it in the distance, from my hotel, but this was something else. I always get a small round of chills when I see sights like this. I know that they may be “touristy” and cliché, but I still love to see them!
I hopped off the bus and began to wander on my own. I started down the main tourist trail, but then found my own rugged path to follow. It lead down a steep decline through a cluster of bushes and prickly thorns. Stopped myself from falling numerous times, I finally made it to a small outcrop where I stopped to photograph the bridge and the Bay.
I watched the waves crashing against the shore and the boats slowly chugging along the waterway. In the distance I saw what could only be described as strange blimps floating through the air, like some sort of child-like dreamland.
I later discovered that they were airborne cable cars from Treasure Island. But, somehow in the misty air and warm sunny hues, they looked like flying vehicles. Alcatraz looked pretty cool too!
I made my way back up the steep hill and wandered around a bit more before hopping back on the bus. The bus then actually drove right over the bridge, to the other side.
The ride itself was pretty exhilarating. The wind whipped my hair around as the bright orangey-red beams rose over my head, and past the bus. I couldn’t believe that I was driving over the world’s most famous bridge.
The view from the other side was pretty spectacular itself. First, I looked at the traffic on the bridge, it was packed. Then, I looked at the city skyline again, from an entirely different perspective. What a great city.
We drove back across the bridge and saw a few more sights along the way. My expectations were fulfilled, and I decided to call it a day.
There’s just something that I love about hop-on hop-off tours. You can make fun of them all you want, but I love a good urban tour bus!