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A SAN FRANCISCO WALKABOUT
There is no way you can see all of San
Francisco on a short visit. At best you
must treat it as a voluminous grab bag to
be dipped into. Its contents are cultures
and lifestyles that differ from one area to
the next. History in museums and
missions and well-preserved buildings.
And the harbourfront crammed with
sightseeing and fishing boats. If you
devoted a week to unusual architecture you still wouldn't see it all.
There are walking tours and bicycles for hire, ferry boat rides to unique little
seaside communities and excursions to outlying valleys where vineyards
prosper. I want to do it all, but it's simply not possible. So, blessed with warm
sunshine on my one day here, I choose to walk. Here's how it went:
A brief stroll from my hotel,
Chinatown is the second largest
Chinese community east of Asia.
Residents number close to
100,000, and it seems as if all of
them are out and about this
Saturday morning. Confusion on
Grant Avenue is total. Cable cars
clatter through. Tourists wander
against traffic lights to reach
souvenir shops on both sides of
the street. Impervious to the commotion, locals go about their business of
carefully selecting vegetables and spices from sidewalk stalls. They seek out
the fishmongers and herbalists, sellers of tea and noodles.
Nearby, the Cable Car Barn Museum reveals massive wheels winding
eighteen kilometres of thick steel cable that pull cable-cars up the city's
wickedly steep hills. When Andrew S. Hallidie invented these motorless
vehicles in 1873, they were ridiculed as
"Hallidie's Folly". Now designated official
landmarks, they will take you on any of
three routes for a $2 fare per ride, $6 for all
day. I can easily hop a cable car from here
for Ghirardelli Square, but the day is young
so I continue my walk.