Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 17, 2013: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 3

Date: August 17, 2013
Event: A Day Immersed In San Francisco, Part 3
Location: San Francisco, California
Cost: $24 for transportation to SF and a day pass on the transit system
Summary: Street Cars, Rainbows, Wild Parrots, and Murals, oh my!

This is post three of four posts about my one day in San Francisco (yes, just one day, lol). See these other posts if you’re interested.

This post has photos and descriptions from the third section of my day which involved mostly a disjointed self-guided trip (including three transfers) on San Fran’s street cars, a tour of the Castro District (this was mostly unexpected happenings that I was delighted to have seen), a couple smaller but still unique staircases (with wild parrots – wild parrots!), and an alley filled with murals.

Here’s the territory I covered in this third section.


So, let’s dive in. It was a rather random last couple hours to my day, and it sapped out the last of my physical energy. But at the same time, it energized me, too.

The Streetcars

By the time I embarked on this section of my day, I had already climbed untold steps and untold hills and walked untold distances. I was happy to take a load off and just sit and wait for the street car that would take me to the metro station that would take me to the Castro.

Little did I know that I would fall in love with those street cars as I both waited for mine and as I rode one out to the Castro (loved it so much I decided to stay on it rather than transfer to the metro). I’m a huge fan of public transportation and historical public transportation (as so much of big cities’ histories can be seen in their transport). So, as it turns out, I could have spent hours just riding all the different street cars San Francisco has on its tracks. These ‘street cars’ are like buses, running on the surface, sharing the road with cars, stopping at traffic signals. The only difference is that they run on rails. AND, San Fran has brought in street cars from around the country and not only preserved them but put them into service. Again, massive kudos to San Fran for preserving and using this living history.

Here is a view of them coming and going (lol, don’t worry, this is zoomed in quite a bit so I wasn’t actually standing in the middle of the tracks blocking the way).

And they were all these different colors. The ones above were green and white, there was also red and black, yellows, and my favorite, Blue and Yellow (Go blue!) (reminder: I’m a Michigan Wolverine and always will love my blue and yellow)

And, as I said, inside each car was a description of that car’s history and where it had come from. This one I rode had originally served Philadelphia for 40 years. Yay, history!

A couple of shots I took from inside the streetcar. This one of the bridge, I must say, I’m rather proud of this one.

And this is out the front of the car as we made our way towards The Castro.

Sadly, I never got to ride the one you can see in the picture above. Thankfully, I got to see one up close when walking around The Castro. So cool. I mean, look at the interior (second picture below). How wonderful is that?!?


As I said, I could have just ridden these different cars all day up and down and around San Francisco. But, there was more on my agenda. Off again to more stairs!

More Stairs: Vulcan and Saturn
Alright, after I got off the street car I made my way to two more staircases: Vulcan Street and Saturn Street. Now, they weren’t nearly as big or as grand as the ones in downtown, but they were just as beautiful and in many ways, more unique.

I hit the Saturn stairs first. The stairs themselves were okay – I loved that they were mostly wooden and mulch covered….

And I enjoyed the view of the Castro and it’s big o’ rainbow flag….

But mostly, this rose to being one of the best stairs of the day because I saw a whole flock (7-8) of wild parrots. PARROTS. WILD ONES. They were awesome!! I might have taken a ton of pictures of them. But I will only subject you to three. :)



Then it was off to Vulcan. Okay, another confession. I’m a trekkie. Yes, it’s true. Hello, my name is Jill, and I’m a trekkie. AND I NEVER WANT TO NOT BE. So I knew the ‘Vulcan’ Street stairs were going to be awesome no matter what.

And I was right. I mean, the very sign marking the top of the stairs felt like a political statement. And I was ready to do battle with any Klingon I saw!

But seriously, this staircase was full of wonderful little cottages and walkways. I mean, imagine living in a major U.S. city, and *this* is your front sidewalk…



Then there was this, that just made me laugh.

I was a little disappointed I didn’t see Spock, but I still enjoyed my little walk down the Vulcan Street stairs. Thanks for the memories, Vulcan, and now I’m off to walk around The Castro a bit…

The Castro

Oh, The Castro. This section of town is generally considered the gay part of town. And it was, well, it was fabulous! ;) No, seriously, this was a wonderful little section of San Francisco where people were simply who they were. No apologies. And just to be around that kind of freedom is about the most wonderful thing ever.

I mean, just walking a few blocks and you walk by houses like this. Awesome? Yes.

I also passed this small but powerful memorial to all the LGBTQ people that lost their lives in the holocaust. A pink triangle (which members of the LGBTQ community were branded with under the Nazis)

Of course, life, as it is, will often hit you with something like that memorial that makes you think and then follow it up immediately with something that makes you giggle like a 12 year old. And in this case, the ‘giggle like a 12 year old’ was… nudes. Yep, a couple of nudists walking around, enjoying the weather, enjoying the San Francisco mostly-male cheer team that happened to be performing, just, you know, hanging out. Almost literally. Oh, the Castro. LOVED IT!


But, despite my desire to grab a diet Coke and just sit and people watch, there was (as always) something more on the agenda. Off to see some building murals!

Frist stop was The Women’s Building – an incredible three story building that’s covered with a massive mural. I mean it’s bigger than life. It’s stunning. If you’re anywhere in the area, it’s so worth wandering by.





Then it was off to Clarion Alley, an ally that has various murals on either side. It was kind of like the HOWL festival, but more permanent. There were a number of murals I didn’t care for, but for the most part, I found something in each of them that I enjoyed. There were a lot of political statements in them, and anger in many of them. But there was also whimsy and joy in some of them. DEFINITELLY worth the trip. DEFINITELY. I mean, it’s a free outdoor art museum. Of course it’s worth it.

Here are several overall views. The ground wasn’t painted the entire length, but it was painted in some locations, which made the experience more three dimensional rather than two dimensional.




Speaking of three-dimensional, I loved how this mural incorporated a real-life tree that was growing behind the wall. It was just wonderful.


And as you walked along this alley, you never knew what you’d see after taking another two or three steps; each little section differed so much from the one next to it.

Here are some of my favs…


(this one is in progress…sort of wish I could return to see what the text bubbles eventually contain)




And these two are of the same picture, the second one zoomed in – it’s a mural of the Clarion Alley murals. COOL!!


After this, I had intended to hit one more stair case, but I got on the wrong subway and that was the last straw. No more energy. So I headed back to my hotel.

No regrets about the day AT ALL. And so many things I still want to explore and spend time on. And so many things I’d love to revisit. THAT is the sign of a good day. A VERY good day. :)

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