Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 5 in San Francisco - Cafe DeLucci, Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, and Hyde St. Pier

After a good breakfast at Cafe DeLucci, I hiked up to the top of Telegraph Hill to get some photos. The view of downtown San Francisco is obscured by trees! However, there were lots of brightly colored birds flying around in the trees.

After looking around a bit and taking a few photos of Coit Tower, I walked through Chinatown to get some pictures of the markets and strange foods available there. I also wanted to catch the cable car over to Fisherman's Wharf.

The Hyde Street Cable Car runs from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf. At the end of the cable car run is a pier. On the pier are a number of artifacts from the area on display. I snapped some pictures and walked around a bit. There was one person actually swimming laps at the beach, despite the relatively cold water!

Ghirardelli Square is where Ghirardelli built their first chocolate factory and they still make chocolate fudge for the ice cream shop on the grounds. I took some pictures of the chocolate making equipment and around the square. I managed to hold myself back and didn't buy any chocolate! I did have a great hot fudge sunday, though. It was HUGE and I only managed to eat half of it.

After that I walked back to the apartment and got ready to get on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Oakland to visit my friends Wayne and Kay.

BART is the fifth busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in America. It's a wide guage system, so the trains are very roomy inside. Most of the cars are carpeted, making them quiet and comfortable. It provides a very smooth and fast way around the San Francisco Bay area. Oakland is a major city on the other side of the bay. Connecting San Francisco to Oakland are the BART and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The BART goes under the San Francisco Bay for almost 4 miles. At the deepest point, it is 41m below the surface of the bay. The transbay tube was actually built on land and then submerged and anchored to the bottom of the bay. This is rumbly earthquake country, so seismic studies needed to be conducted before putting the tube where it is now.

There have been a few significant earthquakes that have rendered the Bay Bridge unusable, but the transbay tube always reopens within hours. In 1989 there was an earthquake during the World Series, the teams playing were coincidentally Oakland and San Francisco so they were playing in San Francisco. The earthquake caused a portion of the Bay Bridge to collapse forcing people to use BART in record numbers. This was also the first major earthquake to be broadcast live on television, because the World Series is such a big media event.

Enough about BART, I made it to the MacArthur stop in Oakland in about 20 minutes, which is pretty fast. I had a great dinner with Wayne and Kay and Wayne's daughter, son in law, and granddaughter. We had chicken and risotto along with some potatoes and an apple and walnut salad. The food was great, the conversation was really great. The wine was good, too! Kay drove me back into the city across the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the view was amazing.

On Monday I fly back to Chicago at 4:30 in the afternoon. I'll take the BART again to the airport and then say goodbye to San Francisco for now. I am in love with this city and I think I'll be coming back again soon!

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