Monday, October 25, 2010

California Dreamin' – San Francisco's Golden Bridge

Some call San Francisco the City by the Bay, the Golden Gate City, or simply 'Frisco, but no one has ever called the city Cheap. It's not cheap to visit and even getting to the city is pricey. If you take the bridge into town, the admission charge is $6.

Still, San Francisco's charms can be accessed on a tightwad's budget. David and I enjoyed the city, saw every site we could cram into three days, and still stayed within a strict budget.

View from south side looking toward city
The first afternoon we arrived in the city was one of those glorious, happens-only-a-few-times-a-year days when the temperature was in the low 90s and the sky was clear. 
San Francisco skyline
We checked into our hotel, the Lombard Inn, and then headed for the Golden Gate Bridge. We skipped the metered parking lot on the south side and drove across the bridge to the free parking area on the north end. We ogled the scene, took dozens of photos, read about the bridge in the information center, and used the restroom before finally driving on to Sausalito.

Sausalito, looking like a tinier version of San Francisco, meanders up and down the hills before finally hugging the shore where yachts loll about. We soaked up the charm before hunger led us to a delightful grocery store, one of only eight nation-wide, called Mollie Stone's. The market specializes in fresh, made-from-scratch baked goods and organic foods, so finding a snack and some pastries for tomorrow's breakfast was easy.

Back at our hotel, we parked the car in the garage where it stayed until the day we left, and walked down to the pier area to purchase our Muni-pass. This pass cost $20 for three days of transportation on busses, trolleys, and cable cars. Since a bus ride is $2 and a cable car trip is $5, we knew the pass would pay for itself in less than two days. It did and made traveling the ups and downs of San Francisco much more pleasant.

Alcatraz Island - Destination for Tuesday

Practicalities -
Click for more information on the Golden Gate Bridge, viewing areas, and fees.

Click for more information on the Muni-Pass.

Note that you activate the transportation pass the first time you use the card, and the pass is valid for three consecutive days, not three 24-hour periods. For example, we activated our pass on a Monday, the first evening we were in San Francisco, even though we only used the bus once--to return to our hotel after buying the pass. That meant that our pass expired on Wednesday night. Had we waited to activate our pass until Tuesday morning, our pass would not have expired until Thursday night.

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