This year for Christmas we spent our time out west visiting family in both San Francisco and a small town outside of Reno, Carson Nevada. Unlike our trip last year, we spent a few days in San Francisco rather than a few hours so we could explore the city. I wanted to experience what the city had to offer, to go see all the sites that make San Francisco famous. On our tour we visited the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Warf.

First thing I noticed about San Francisco is that the overall feel of the area is nothing like any southern city. The hills are what you would expect after watching movies like Bullitt and are not movie magic. They are steep and there are a lot of them. When you move outside the city the hills continue, but unlike hilly areas in Georgia the hills are completely covered in grass, with very few trees and more often than not there are cows on top of those grassy hills.

The first stop on our adventure was a spot overlooking the city called Twin Peaks. From there you get a 180 degree view of the city and it is breath taking. There are few areas in San Francisco where you can get a completely unobstructed view of all the popular sites at once.

After leaving Twin Peaks, we made our way to Lombard Street, better known as “the worlds most crooked street”. When we got there we found it full of tourists, which I would assume it is like that 24-7. Typically when I photography a place I like to try and not have any people in the picture, something I found hard if not impossible to do at Lombard.

I think what surprised me the most about Lombard Street is the fact that it exists in the first place. Who in their right mind decided it was a good idea? Not only is it twisty but it is steep as well. Driving, or in my case riding, down the hill feels like a drivers education test in maneuvering.

To wrap up the first day of site seeing we pointed our attention to the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was one of the few things I did get to see last year so this year we went for a little different vantage point, underneath. From here you begin to realize exactly how massive the bridge actually is. The Golden Gate dwarfs the large container ships that easily fit under the giant structure.

Visiting the bridge brought along a most welcome surprise, people surfing in the giants shadow. Right at the foot of the bridge roughly 20 surfers were braving the chilly water to take advantage of the beautifully crafted waves. All I could think of was “how California is this?!?” I sat on the rocks for quite some time soaking it all in much like I did a few years before when I was bobbing up and down on top of a surfboard of my own at Waikiki Beach. I really wanted to be out in the water.

The next day we made our way to Alcatraz, the one place I was dead set on visiting and I am happy to announce it did not disappoint. Upon stepping off the boat, we were greeted by amazing surroundings, as well as tons of people. The island is a good mix of decaying and well maintained structures.

I could write an entire blog entry about exploring Alcatraz but I fear it would not do the island justice. All I can say is if you get the chance, go, take the audio tour, and allow more that 3 hours for the trip. The once most feared place for american prisoners has transitioned to a beautiful, solemn monument to the people that called that island home.

San Francisco is a place unlike anywhere I have been before and will be a place I look forward to visiting again in the future. It’s nice to experience places that are completely different than what you are use to. From the sites and sounds to the guy wearing only a santa hat (on his head), everything was different than home. It was a great experience and an awesome city. See you soon San Francisco.