Our planned early start was foiled by my dead camera, so we decided to have a quiet morning while my camera charged before heading out at about 11ish to do San Francisco’s 49 mile scenic drive. We programmed the GPS to take us a point near to the Bay Bridge to pick up the scenic drive, which is marked by signs with seagulls on them.

The Seagull signs that I was following

(I discovered later that Lizzie had no idea why I was talking about following the seagulls, she genuinely thought that I was following actual seagulls to find the route.) Following the route in the city centre proved rather stressful, particularly for Lizzie, as she was driving, but also for me trying to navigate. With all this stress, we had no time to appreciate the scenery, so decided to pick up the non-city centre part of the drive, and programmed “Jim” (the Scottish man in our GPS who likes Irn Bru) to take us to a later point on the drive, a little further away from the city centre. We managed to pick up the route no problem, and soon got our first unobstructed view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Naturally, we had to pull over for some pictures before continuing, we then passed the Palace of Fine Arts, which is quite an impressive and beautiful structure set in a park. In an attempt to find a parking space on a busy Sunday afternoon, we took a wrong turning and ended up on the highway heading for the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, we could not find any way to get off this road, so ended up accidentally driving over the bridge, the helpful signs telling us that there was no Northbound toll were not quite as reassuring as they had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, of course we were planning to visit the bridge, but not at this particular point in our scenic drive.

First view of Alcatraz

Since we were there, it seemed the best plan to pull into the overlook point on the far side for some pictures. It was crowded, but finding a parking space did not prove too much of a challenge and then we commenced wrestling with the rude crowd in an attempt to get photos of ourselves with the bridge. “No, sir, I do not want you to stand behind Lizzie so I can get a picture of her with your back rather than with the bridge.”

Palace of Fine Arts (from the car)

Eventually managing to get some decent photos, and giving up on the idea of getting better ones, we decided to walk across the bridge to see the view from the other side. The views from the bridge itself were incredible, and we were surprised at how windy it was, especially around the pillars. In the middle of the bridge, spaced at regular intervals were a series of “There is hope. Make the call.” signs, next to suicide hotline phones, I wonder if these actually work?


Finishing our walk to the other side we posed for more photos, before heading back towards the car. It was a long walk without the frequent photo stops we had made on the way over, this wasn’t helped by the fact that we were starving. Back at the car, we quickly programmed in the closest places to eat and started driving, having decided that it would be easier to find something on the side of the bridge that we were on, rather than trying to find parking in the city. Lunch was some much needed Mexican food, at a place that had more than one vegetarian option for Liz and a whole salsa bar. After lunch we headed back to the car to recommence our scenic drive after driving back over the bridge (luckily the toll is only one way). Back on the city side of the bridge we attempted to rejoin the scenic drive, but the GPS led us a merry dance and we almost ended up heading back over the bridge again.

Golden Gate Bridge

Luckily, we managed to turn off just in time and found our way back to the route. Following the seagulls took us to a quiet car park with a good view of the bridge, and here we were able to take all the silly photos that we wanted, cart-wheeling and jumping with the bridge in the background. This done, we continued following the seagulls into Praesidio Park, where we quickly pulled over to take yet more pictures of the stunning views over the bay towards the bridge. Reaching the top of the hill, we pulled over once again, next to the Holocaust Memorial and a building that was some sort of gallery or museum. It was pretty anyway, so we parked the car and leapt out to take some pictures. It was getting ever later, and conscious that we had planned dinner with Brent, we needed to keep going. The route took us along along beachwith great views over the ocean and then looped around to take us into Golden Gate Park. We drove through most of the park, but stopped at a lake, with an island in the middle with an impressive waterfall on it.

Pretty Waterfall in Golden Gate Park

We had a wander around the lake before crossing a rustic bridge and following the path around towards the waterfall, which was stunning. After climbing the steep steps next to the waterfall and taking photos from various levels, it was once again time to return to the car.

Golden Gate Park

Our next stop, after following the seagulls for a little longer, was Twin Peaks, two hilltops that overlook the city and offer amazing views. We had just enough time to enjoy the scenery and take a few pictures before abandoning the scenic drive to head back to San Leandro, phoning Brent to let him know that we were on our way.

The city from the Twin Peaks

Brent cooked a delicious BBQ, and taught both of us how best to eat a whole artichoke (our previous experience only being with the hearts that come in a jar). After dinner we washed up, emptied and hovered the car (in the dark), did some laundry, and then, guess what, spent the rest of the night blogging! (To give you an idea of how behind we are, I am sitting in Vancouver, almost two weeks later writing about this.)