“The fellowship of the cable car.”

San Francisco, USA. October 2017 (17 photos)

This is part 1 of my USA 2017 photo series.

I thought I’d take a momentary pause from my posts about Cuba to post about one of my other destinations from my trip last year, San Francisco.

It’s not possible to fly directly to Cuba from Australia, so I had to decide how to get there and not run foul of the rules of the US Embargo against Cuba. My first stop was San Francisco where I stayed for several days. I’ve been to San Francisco a few times before. It’s my preferred entry point to the US mainland. I like the atmosphere there. I like the food there. There’s also a few things worth photographing there. Please let me be your tour guide and show you some photos…

I took a taxi to my hotel from the airport. My driver told me he moved to San Francisco in the 1960s to be part of the hippy movement, and never left. Strange, because he was a very aggressive driver – I’ve not known anyone to be so heavy on a car horn as he was. He told me I’d arrived just in time for Fleet Week, which caught me by surprise. I’d not heard of Fleet Week during my trip planning. Basically, Fleet Week is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard tradition in which active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a variety of major cities for one week. Over this weekend multiple aerial displays were performed over the city.

“Blue Angels over Alcatraz.”

So I immediately adjusted my plans and spent a morning watching the elite Blue Angels perform over the San Francisco Bay. Most of the crowds were on the water’s edge. However, I chose to find a higher vantage point, so that I could have background context, watching most of the displays from Russian Hill.

I spent a day in The Mission District to explore the street art.

“Domo arigato Mr Roboto.”

Mission Park on a weekend is a great place for people watching. The Mission District has some of San Francisco’s better eateries. I don’t base my trips on food but I do like to research the food options before going. In advance I prepared for a 6 meal/snack strategy on that day in The Mission.

“The Bay Bridge, 5am.”

Of course, the bridges of San Francisco need to photographed. It’s worth getting up extra early sometimes, even on holidays.

“Golden Gate dawn, 6:50am.”

“In the land of giants.”

It was good to get out and walk amongst the old growth Redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument.

“Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil, Text no evil.”

There are plenty of great places on the streets of San Francisco for street photography. This was taken in Chinatown.

“San Francisco National Cemetery.”

“Golden Gate evening, 6:30pm.”

Well, if you’re going to do dawn photography of the bridges, it’s worth also taking some sunset and night photos.

“Golden Gate night, 8pm.”

For the third time now, I’ve walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. This time I started with a yum cha lunch at Hong Kong Lounge II in the Laurel Heights District. They feature heavily in articles about San Francisco’s best yum cha. One word of warning though. You choose off a menu, not from a cart. I chose 8 dishes that I recognised and like. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that the servings are larger than I’m used to in Australia and I faded fast. At least I could take the leftovers with me to eat whilst walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Point Lime view.”

I have a ritual where I walk through the Presidio, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. With my photography stops it takes a few hours. Seriously, you have to burn off the calories somehow. If you really want a workout, do this walk in the reverse direction. Sausalito to The Presidio is mostly uphill.

It’s an easy ferry ride back to San Francisco. And the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco is now a gourmet food hub. That’s smoke haze in the background. This was the first or second day of the Sonoma County Fires that killed more than 40 people and burned over 8000 buildings/houses.

“Smoke gets in your eyes.”

The view from Alcatraz Island, looking in the direction of Sonoma County.

I spent some time climbing the famous steps of San Francisco around Coit Tower. Whilst catching my breath I saw this interesting building.

“We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall.”

A woman passing by asked if I knew the significance of this building. I didn’t. She told me it featured in the movie, Dark Passage, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was the apartment for Lauren Bacall’s character in the movie. It pays to speak to the locals.

The view from Coit Tower back to Russian Hill.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this partial glimpse into my visit to San Francisco.

This is part 1 of my USA 2017 photo series.

This is part 1 of my North America 2017 photo series.

This is part 9 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

On the streets of San Francisco


91 thoughts on “On the streets of San Francisco

  1. Thank you for taking me to a city I will never see. Looks great in your words and photos. Bacall and Bogey, how great to be informed by locals. And I love the four monkeys and their message. A message of greatest importance – always. If we do not let it go by without being reflected upon.

  2. Didn’t know you made a stopover at San Fransisco, Dragon. It looked like you saw quite a bit, and walking back and forth the Golden Gate Bridge must have been great exercise. Lovely to hear you got to take the leftovers with you and they must have been good snacks and fuel. Yum cha tatses good wherever you are πŸ˜€

    Beautiful photography all around.

    • And just like in Sydney, the best yum cha is not in Chinatown. I never leave anything behind. Even cold yum cha is good. πŸ™‚

      Thanks, I like just wandering in SF but there are the essentials. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of them.

  3. Love this post! It’s been 30 years since we were able to visit SF — and wouldn’t you know that the trolley cars were being renovated and not running. Ain’t that just the way! πŸ˜› Your photos are beautiful. I just saw and learned more of SF than I did when I was there! πŸ˜€

    • Thank you very much, Linda. Since it costs so much to get there from Australia, I do my research to make the most of my time, particularly when it comes to the food. LOL πŸ™‚
      Funny about the cable cars. I rode one in the morning to get to Russian Hill. By the afternoon, the cable cars had stopped running and were replaced by buses. Not surprisingly, faces on buses weren’t as happy as faces on cable cars.

  4. J.D. Riso says:

    A fabulous eclectic collection of photos from SF. The dark bridge photos are my favorites. Sounds like you had a grand time. Beware those American food portion sizes. πŸ˜‰ At least you could walk it off while reveling in your art.

    • Thank you, Julie. It was worth the effort starting before dawn and continuing at night on this trip. Yes, one needs to be alert to food portion sizes in the US. I prefer smaller meals with more variety.

    • The hills of San Francisco can get to you after a while, so you have to plan for rest stops. Walking the Golden Gate Bridge is something you should do. Especially now with online/offline phone maps, it’s hard to get lost. There are some lovely viewing spots at both ends of the bridge.

  5. We haven’t been to SF for a few years now, but your photos brought back the beauty. My husband was at the Oracle convention the year the America’s Cup was in SF and the US came back to beat NZ. I was pulling for NZ and spent the afternoon with a great group of Kiwis. I saw that Bogie and Bacall building while on a walk, too, and have a photo of it. I also enjoyed the offerings at the Ferry Building! Yum! I think you had the best view of the Blue Angels!


    • Thanks, Janet. Converting the Ferry Terminal into a gourmet food hall was a great idea. Although I couldn’t get into the oyster place – so busy!!!
      It’s great to have the insider knowledge. It made me appreciate that Bogie and Bacall building more.

  6. Welcome to Wales says:

    A good and varied introduction to a place I have never visited. I particularly love those early morning images of the Bridge. Wonderful!

  7. Allan G. Smorra says:

    A great tour of SF. You were busy! I worked on the GGB for 15 years and your photos of the bridge are outstanding.

  8. Love to see your views on San Fran, a city I know a little about; iconic bridges, cable cars and the wonderful Coit tower with its murals. I was a little freaked out when in the Mission district to photograph the street art there on my last visit, but SF sure does get under your skin. So sad that so much damage was done over in Sonoma County, destroying lives, homes and vineyards. California had a rough year in 2017.

    • Yes, I was aware there are some parts of the Mission district one should not enter and I stayed away from them. But generally I felt safe in the main traffic areas and the dedicated street art alleys where there were plenty of people with cameras.
      The fires were a dreadful event. I could smell the smoke inside my hotel room in the Union Square area.

        • I can understand feeling vulnerable in that situation. Yes, I wandered around looking at all the murals before going up to the top. I’d always meant to go to Coit Tower but never got around to it on previous trips.

  9. San Francisco is such a wonderful place, and you have captured it beautifully, Lignum. Especially the bridges which are my favorite photographs here. Each one is truly so beautiful.

    Thank you for taking us along with you!

    • Thanks very much, Sue. Just like in Sydney, the bridges are iconic and I don’t get tired photographing them. As soon as I saw that guy sitting next to the monkeys, I knew I had a great shot. πŸ™‚

  10. Your photos made me hold my breath. What a grand city San Fran is. I lived there in ’87 – down near Fisherman’s Wharf .. So good! I never walked the bridge (I’m jealous that you did). And to think you walked from Sausalito (I loved this place). The food was always amazing .. bit like your photos really πŸ˜€

    • Thanks so much, Julie. I suspect it’s changed a bit now since ’87. Go back. There are so many great vantage points at either end of the bridge which you’d like. Sausalito has such a different vibe yet it’s so close to SF. Yes, so much good food; too much good food. πŸ™‚

  11. Really enjoyed wandering around all these iconic San Fran places with you LD. That bridge is beautiful at any time of the day. Every one who has been there seems to have fond memories of SF. We spent 3 memorable days in 1991 at the blues festival in Fort Mason, top blues artists including the unforgettable BB King were performing, and it was his 66th birthday. A group of locals took us under their wing as we were totally unprepared and we boogied the 3 days away with them, what memories. Consequently didn’t see much else… Looking forward to tagging along with you on this next adventure

  12. San Francisco is truly one of my favorite places on the face of the earth, and a city I dream of moving to at the end of my circumnavigation. I traveled there a lot in my youth but sadly I haven’t been there since the late 1990s – work and then my sailing dream has kept me away. So it is wonderful to visit it through your lens. Your first picture was so perfect that it actually made me remember that smell specific to cable car cable oil. Do you know it? And your captures of the Golden Gate are remarkable. Can’t wait to bring the boat there #2021

    • Thanks, Lisa. I vaguely know that smell. I was more caught up in the fun of hanging off the cable cars as they roll along. There’s so much that’s iconic about San Francisco and so much to love and do. Outside of Melbourne. Brisbane and Darwin, it’s the city I’ve visited more than anywhere else in the world. PS 2021 isn’t that far away. πŸ™‚

  13. Hi LD- You sure hit the highlights of our city! The Cable Car is on my block, we lived in the Art Deco building on Telegraph Hill one summer and our favorite restaurant is HK Lounge II. You did your homework. Your images are gorgeous and captured the feel and beauty of SF. To me, it feels like Sydney in some ways. Glad you are having such wonderful travels!

    • Thanks, Jane. Outside of Australia, I’ve visited San Francisco more often than any other city. I enjoy it there, and there’s still so much more I’m yet to see there. Reason enough to return another time.
      I also tried Yank Sing but didn’t like it as much. I really liked Mission Cheese in the Mission. It’s a great idea for an eatery! Next time I have to get to Tartine bakery a bit earlier for more choice. πŸ™‚

  14. I love San Francisco. That Mission District mural and the three monkeys is awesome — I had not seen those before. All your photographs are vibrant and wonderfully framed. Love them.

  15. A wonderful tour around SF day and night,magnificent the photos of the bridges.Loved everything,and got my laugh with your paraphrased pictorial maxim thanks to the young man texting just at the right moment … πŸ™‚

  16. I loved this series, Draco. I did it in reverse, seeing Part 2 first, and both parts highlighted SF in such beautiful, even sacred, ways. With your photos, words, and selections, you captured the diversity, color, and magic of this remarkable city. I was in SF on Thursday of that Fleet Week, it was still clear that day (before the fires) and the Blue Angels were a joy to watch. But not too many people could capture what you did with the Blue Angels over Alcatraz, for many reasons. Loved hearing about your walk from the Presidio to Sausalito, and the return on the ferry. Your ability to see a scene on the street and craft it into art always astounds me, like in the Chinatown photo. Chuckled at the taxi driver story, loved thinking of you on Coit Tower photographing and learning from a local, you captured Dolores Park on a hot day so remarkably, and the beauties of the Mission in murals and food. After Sunday’s fires in Sonoma began (my house and property were in that fire), the air in the Bay Area was horrible, but even with that, you did a great job of recording that historic event. Please, my friend, if you are ever back in the Bay Area, please contact me via email and I would be honored to give you a tour, drive you anywhere.

    • Thank you very much, Jet. I’m so terribly sorry that you lost your house and property during that inferno. I could smell the smoke from inside my hotel room in Union square, and of course my visit to Alcatraz was encased in smoke. I can only imagine the horror you were going through at that same time. I hope you are coping alright.
      I arrived on friday of Fleet Week. I went down to the waterside but there were large crowds building which I didn’t want to get caught in. So I deliberately found a hillside to photograph from, giving me the context of the bay and Alcatraz. The sounds and vibrations from the aerial displays was amazing, Walking the Golden Gate Bridge is my ritual – I think that was on Columbus Day. There’s so much more of San Francisco I need to see. Thank you very much for the very generous offer. I’ll most certainly let you know next time I come to visit.

  17. A wonderful post. Being a resident of the Bay Area and former San Francisco resident I’m always interested to see how visitors view SF and the Bay.
    Thank you

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