The first full day of our vacation took us to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood which is just adjacent to it on the eastern edge.
It took most of the morning to get up there from San Jose; the traffic on 101 was backed up, and even though the sights were new to us east-coast people, it’s still just a highway through a commercial district and once you’ve seen the back of one Ikea store you’ve pretty much seen all of that you need to. We rolled off 101 to the west and found the old El Camino highway, a straight shot through lovely neighborhoods of bungalows and rows of tall, fragrant eucalyptus trees. The defining smell for us so far are these wonderful trees!
We went over the range of coastal hills through the clouds that clung to the top and worked our way over to Skyline Drive and then down to the ocean. After our obligatory I-put-my-foot-in-the-Pacific moment we stopped by the visitors’ center at the western edge of the park.
The inside is decorated with WPA murals and mosaics.
We found a space to park in the park, and took off for Haight Street. More on that later, I didn’t shoot any pictures. We of course did stop at Amoeba Records, but I didn’t buy anything because we were a little short on time.
Then we strolled over to the famous Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest Japanese garden in the U.S. For a mere $5 each we got to spent time enjoying the bonsais, ponds, waterfalls, pagodas, statuary and gardens here.
Afterwards, we drove over the unspeakably steep peak of Pacific Heights on Divisadero St.. LF and Claire we laughing out loud at the sheer absurdity of building such a road. From the top looking down it’s like the view from the top of a very high roller coaster. We drove around the Marina for a while looking for a parking space, and grabbed some dinner, then back down to San Jose to my cousin’s house for the night. A fine first day!
[googleMap name="Japanese Tea Garden" width="450" directions_to="false"]7 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr San Francisco, CA 94118[/googleMap]