Thursday, April 9, 2009

Silicon Valley: A Day Spent on Sightseeing and Shopping

The morning of Thursday, April 9, 2009 brought about the San Francisco Trolley tour and the trip to Fisherman’s Wharf. Although San Francisco spans only 49 square miles, it has 43 hills where Californians put them to use and built hundreds of houses (at unbelievable angles) and roads on hills and flatlands alike. Because of these hills, our tour of San Francisco had its ups and downs (very steep ones!).

We woke up as early as 6:00A.M. to pack and load our luggage. After loading, we drove to Fisherman’s Wharf to start our tour. On this tour, we visited the Presidio, a base that the Spanish in North America established to protect against attacks, the Exploratorium or science museum, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, the Presidio serves as a park consisting of wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas like the Exploratorium and cemetery. A large pond with a fountain and a variety trees encompassed the Exploratorium while a giant willow tree and an excess amount of water complimented and attracted birds as well as tourists. After leaving the Exploratorium, we headed towards our next destination: the Golden Gate Bridge.

Along the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, Allen, the tour guide, described the scenic vistas as we drove pass them. For example, we saw the first cemetery dedicated to fallen soldiers including many Medal of Honor recipients. Similarly, Fort Point, located near the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge, served the United States’ government as well. As a defense mechanism to the U.S., Fort Point had protected the San Francisco harbor from attacks during the Civil War and Post-Civil War eras.

Many of these historical sites have laid a path to the exquisite Golden Gate Bridge which has a ferrous coating that gives off a red tint. The completion of the bridge in 1937 made an impact on the world simply because it surpassed 8 other bridges, and established itself as the longest for a couple of years. From the time of its construction, 8 bridges outstripped the Golden Gate in length.

After visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Allen took us on a non-stop tour while informing us about the history. At the end of the trip, we discovered that the Chinatown in San Francisco, the oldest in the U.S., had many cheap sales ($1 T-shirts!) which drove in herds of tourists. The bright colors and lively people ranged in many shades and shapes. These tourists filled the 11 blocks by 4 blocks Chinatown which consists of the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. Immediately after driving by Chinatown, we entered Little Italy, or North Beach. The name derives from the large amount of Italians who immigrated to the U.S. from penal colonies. When the drive bys by the cultural towns ended, we headed towards the hills of San Francisco for a glimpse of the rich and famous. We drove by the house in which directors filmed Mrs. Doubtfire and Princess Diaries, and saw buildings owned by models and actors. The tour ended with a drive by Union Square where upscale boutiques, tourist trinket shops, art galleries, and salons made up the majority of the buildings.
When the Trolley tour ended, we went to have lunch and some shopping time at Pier 39, which featured two levels of dining, shopping, and entertainment on the San Francisco Bay, and has over 110 shops, specifically souvenirs. Pier 39 is known for their stree performers hwo are world-wide famous magicians, jugglers, comedians, and mimes. The entertainment shows are free to audiences.

Aquarium of the Bay is another big entertainment of San Francisco. The Aquarium is filled with marine animals of the San Francisco Bay: Lila, the seven-gill shark, sea stars, sting rays, and more. We were able to touch the sea stars, sting rays, and tiger sharks.

The sea lions out on the West Marina of Pier 39 are a huge attraction of Fisherman’s Wharf. These sea lions started out with about 10-50 of them, but with the help of the protected environment, the numbers grew and became a part of Pier 39’s docks.

Pier 39 has recently acquired the newly arrived San Francisco Carousel from Italy. The carousel images consist of the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, and Alcatraz. It is a popular entertainment for all ages.

Pier 39 is famous for their all souvenir shops of clothes, accessories, and food. Many of us got to taste some amazing food from Wipeout Bar and Grill which has sandwiches, burgers, nachos, pizzas, salads, and more.

After dinner, we headed towards our last destination before our flight tomorrow: the Comfort Inn and Suites.

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