Monthly Archives: July 2015

{San Francisco, California} – Travel Photography


Ill be the first to admit that the next few blog posts will be far more travel log than photography blog, but being on holiday, not worrying about the best angle, the perfect light or the odd rubbish bin in the frame speaks to the vacation state of mind. At the same time, travelling with a 7 month old, doesn’t really provide you with too much time but to point, shoot and cross your fingers that you got the shot!

We started our California coastal trip in San Francisco, with only 3 days in each city, we wanted to make sure we cashed in on the highlights but also felt the vibe and culture of the city. We decided to stay slightly north of San Fran city and over the Golden Gate Bridge in a suburb called Sausalito by booking an “artists studio in the trees” through Airbnb. The words cant quite describe how beautiful this neighbourhood is. Nestled into the trees and rock are these pseudo 70’s style revamped houses with some streets and driveways at over 45 degrees angles. I kept thinking that San Franciscanites must have incredible calves walking those streets! At the base of the streets is this quaint little seaside village with fishermen along the edge of the road and Seafood style restaurants and cafes overlooking the bay. The road between San Fran over the Golden Gate and down to Sausalito also looks to be very popular with cyclists, with many of them stopping enroute for pizza and beer.

On our first morning we decided to catch an early start and drove to Vista Point – located on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, we had planned to hike Battery Spencer, which is a 0.7 mile hike to another viewpoint, but the views were so spectacular from the parking area we were able to hop, skip and jump back over the bridge over to the Marina District and Fisherman’s Wharf. The Golden Gate Bridge is apparently the most photographed man-made structures in the world. Im not sure where those statistics come from, but I added to them.

The Marine District became famous for its scenes of destruction after the 1989 earthquake and is one of the most coveted patches of local real estate. Here, along the northern edge of the city, multimillion-dollar homes back up to the bayfront, where harbours filled with sailboats and the Golden Gate Bridge make for a magnificent backdrop. Fisherman’s Wharf is a bit further on and is humming with tram stops, Segway tours, seals, tourists and clam chowder. Some of the best fresh seafood and the best prices can be found here and sharing a few oysters off a paper plate on the side of the road is considered totally normal and acceptable. Walking around this area, you will see crabs being prepared, humungous lobsters and pots of bubbling clam chowder as the wharf workers sell their wares. Just off the bay is the infamous Alcatraz. Unfortunately we decided to skip this attraction as I had researched that is wasn’t very stroller friendly, however, I was utterly surprised at how close to land it was (2.4 km). Coming from Cape Town and having visited Robben Island Prison which is 6.9km away, the swim from Alcatraz to land seemed totally doable, plus San Francisco bay doesn’t have any Great Whites looking for snacks.

Day 2 led us to the Napa Valley Wine Region. Once again, I have to use Cape Town references here, as the similarities between Napa and Stellenbosch were astounding. Winding little roads through acres of vineyards with blue toned hills in the background and extravagant wine houses dotted along the way was the perfect Sunday drive. We had planned to leave early as I had heard that the traffic on weekends could get a bit congested along Highway 29 therefore we left the main road for a more authentic and peaceful experience to the Silverado Trail, which is a small highway on the eastern side of Napa Valley.

Our first stop was Silverado Winery which holds tastings for 6 smaller wineries in the area. The winery was also well situated on the top of a hill and offered gorgeous views over the vineyards and the valley from a shaded terrace, and for wine tasting at $30 between 2 and all the free breadsticks you could eat, we had a nice long rest stop here!

We continued north on the Silverado Trail and cut west across Zinfandel Road and back onto Highway 29 and pulled into V. Sattui, which is famous for its wine and outstanding deli. The winery was quite busy due to it being lunch time on a Sunday, but there was a large shaded grass area where we could throw some blankets down and grab some gourmet items from the deli. You could also do cheese tastings in the deli and buy chilled wine to enjoy with your picnic.

Day 3 was our city sightseeing day where we planned to visit all the city famous landmarks, such as Lombard street (a famous steep street with 8 hairpins turns), the Painted ladies (remember the colourful houses across the park in the opening sequence of Full House?) and the Japanese Tea Garden to name a few. There were certainly a few moments where we felt compelled to start a car chase scene down one of the steep streets! I was completely drawn to the gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian architecture of the houses. About 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian styles were built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915 (with the change from Victorian to Edwardian occurring on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901), and many were painted in bright colours. The “Painted Ladies”, across Alamo park, made more commercially famous by the Full House series in the late 80’s to mid 90’s is a term in American architecture used for Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colours that embellish or enhance their architectural details. While heading to the Japanese tea garden in the Golden Gate park we made an impromptu stop at the California Academy of Sciences to escape the midday heat. This also happened to be one of the highlights of our trip where we visited 4 stories of an indoor rainforest and one of the most spectacular aquariums I have seen to date. Our last stop on our San Francisco tour was the Japanese Tea Garden, a 5 acre garden with paths, ponds, sculptures, bridges and a tea house of course. This is the oldest tea garden in the US, and is filled with native Japanese plants and a massive Koi pond.

Next stop Los Angeles!