You don’t come to San Francisco and not cross or at least visit the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve now crossed it FOUR times, twice on foot and twice by bicycle. I was just as giddy crossing it the fourth time as I was the first.
When we first arrived in San Francisco and were getting the BART to North Berkeley it was cloudy so we couldn’t see the bridge. A few days later when I ventured down to the marina, I got my first glimpse of this majestic beauty. Even from a few kilometers away in East Bay it is a sight to behold.
We made our first trip there by getting the Golden Gate bus service to the toll plaza on the southern end of the bridge. From there we made our way up onto the main span and walked across, stopping to take photos along the way and trying not to look down. It’s a long way down and sadly it’s been the final way down for a large number of people over the years. I know they don’t want to take away from the aesthetics of the structure but it’s shocking how little of a barrier there is. Walking across the bridge you really hope there isn’t a strong gust or an earthquake. When you stop halfway and lean against the railing you can feel the vibration in the structure, it’s pretty freaky and exciting at the same time, let’s call us freakciting.
It takes about an hour to cross from one side to the other with regular photo stops and the usual ooooh and aaaaaah moments. Once you get to the other side there’s some nice views out over the bay of San Francisco and Alcatraz. If you’re feeling a little peckish after getting to the other side and fancy a bite to eat to celebrate……you’re fresh out of luck my friend. In the immediate vicinity of the Marin side of the bridge there’s just a car park and a toilet. If you require sustenance you’ll need to venture onwards into Sausalito, which is fine if you can last, but if it’s a hot day and you’ve spent it walking around San Francisco and then across the bridge, you want a sandwich dammit!
And then there’s no easily accessible bus stop either so you have to fork out for the expensive tourist bus OR walk all the way back across. That’s what we ended up doing and cut the crossing time down to about half an hour as we were starving and needed food and water. Thankfully there’s a nice shop selling sandwiches all the while bellowing “mwahahaha stupid tourist give me all your money for this sandwich that shouldn’t cost this much but it does because we own you hahahahahahahahaha!!!”.
The cycling trip across was quite pleasant and we crossed over on the Pacific side of the bridge which made for a nice spot of variety to the walking (city/bay area) side. One thing that took away from it a bit was the jerk cyclists, you know the type, dressed for the Tour De France and yet trying to break their record on ONE OF THE MOST TOURIST HEAVY BIKE PATHS IN THE UNIVERSE!!! They tut at you as they go past and force you towards the railing. On one occasion two young girls were forcefully rammed right into the railing and almost fell off their bikes. I don’t get fitness people doing their thing in busy tourist areas, nobody cares about your outfit or what time you did…..Ass-clowns.
The other view we had of the Golden Gate was via a ferry tour of the bay that also encompassed the Oakland Bay Bridge. My parents took the exact same tour themselves more than 30 years ago so it was great to be able to follow in their footsteps and do the same. As you can see from their photo below on the left and mine on the right, nothing has changed.
I’ll have more “then and now” shots in upcoming blog posts from the ferry trip and Alcatraz.
I’ve put some additional images in a gallery over on the Facebook page just in case you need more bridge in your life.