Friday, October 03, 2008

Tourist City

The hills are getting easier, the sights further afield and i must be getting fitter again.

Am loving China town, the shops full of indescribable items in glass jars or piled high in boxes, numerous dried foods from the homelands, roots and leaves, fungus and fish, i'm glad they know what they have to do to make them edible. I bought salmon, quite quickly, after looking round the fishmongers writhing displays of nearly live fish, eels, tortoises, octopus and realizing that i recognized nothing else that i could cook. The clothes shops and home goods are full of things that i would readily buy if i could just pop home. Maybe a trip to China sometime???

From china town to Japanese gardens in the vast golden gate park, a wonderful oasis of peace and tranquility in the heart of the city and just round the corner from the De Young museum. Packed with tastefully displayed artifacts from around the world, i recapped on places i have been and intrigued myself with places new, whilst waiting for my allotted time to view the Chihuly Exhibition at 1.30. The exhibition closed the next day and the whole place was packed. Not surprising when i got to see what all the fuss was about. Modern glass, huge sculptures of every shape imaginable, themed by room and inspiration, colour and design and well worth the wait.

For a contrast, a bit of culture, gay culture, with a stroll through the Castro and its alternative and designer shops, cafes, bars and the Harvey Milk Memorial Plaza, a reminder of harder times and a tribute to the first openly gay politician who did so much for the community and was assassinated for his efforts along with the then mayor. Riots followed in San Fransisco when the ex-cop, assassin, was handed a lenient sentence for his crimes. I stayed in the Castro for the day, soaking up the atmosphere, sunshine, eye candy and enjoying the relaxed feel of the place. The night life was something else!!

Alcatraz was the most talked about trip in the hostel, i tried to go on a couple of occasions but it was always fully booked so i arranged a visit for the end of the week. It is unsurprisingly run down now, but as foreboding as a top security correctional facility should be. Closed several decades ago, Alcatraz has since been occupied by indians as a protest to having their ancestral lands confiscated, it worked and the policy has been reversed, though i am unsure how much of the land they ever had returned. The three hours i spent on the island was long enough and it was great to get the short ferry ride back to the wharf and freedom.

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