In my early 20s I became fascinated by the beat poets after reading Kerouac’s On The Road and I think my love of San Francisco came from this.
In 2010 I went on a pilgrimage. It was in late April and the fog hadn’t yet rolled in so I had beautiful clear blue skies to enjoy.
Number one on my wishlist was to go to Vesuvio’s – a place where apparently “beat poetry was invented”. It’s a bar that was frequented by the beat poets including Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas and Neal Cassady. I went there with a couple of Aussies I met on my trip and discovered how gigantic American shots are. After a combo of absinthe, whisky and an unknown spirit I don’t remember a lot more of that night, but I liked to think I was embracing the spirit of the place and soaking up some of the history I loved so much.
Popular culture also gave me a fascination with Alcatraz too. I didn’t actually know much about it until a fantastic episode of Mythbusters where they managed to escape from the prison and paddle across the bay, thus proving it’s possible and that the escapees who were presumed drowned could have actually paddled to safety. After I saw that episode I really wanted to go so I thought, why not!
Over at Fisherman’s Wharf it quickly became apparent that you haven’t had the full San Franciscan experience if you haven’t had clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. I duly obliged, and wholly recommend (sadly I can’t find a photo).
If you want a view of the city take a walk up to Coit Tower at the top of Telegraph Hill. It costs a few dollars to go up there – $7 at the moment according to the website, but you get views like this…
If I had the opportunity to live and work in San Francisco I’d do it in a heartbeat. San Francisco felt like home as much as London does, and I’m itching to get back there and see the Pacific Coast this time! Maybe I’ll weave it into my travels in the not too distant future.