A small park on Russian Hill with fabulous views over North Beach, Financial District and Bay Bridge. Peaceful and quiet, you'll usually share it with a few folk up from Chinatown doing their Tai Chi. Just over the hill - between Vallejo and Green (for those who know their Tales of the City) is supposed to be macondry lane - complete with wooden steps. Named after a poet.
At intersection of Vallejo St and Taylor St
At the far end of the Royal Mile is the Outlook Tower, and inside is one of the most remarkable of inventions from the mid-nineteenth century, a Camera Obscura. To visit this is to fall in love with Victorian technology with its gleaming brass and polished mahogany.
Climb to the top of the tower and enter a darkened room with a white circular table in the middle. At the appointed hour a guide appears for the ritual. Above the table in the summit of the tower is a complex arrangement of ropes and pulleys that ingeniously manipulate a variety of lenses. The guide, by means of these, can make images of the streets below appear on the white table, complete with people and traffic. So clever is the system that it is possible to zoom in on individuals, who appear with the most startling clarity.
Visit the Camera Obscura and be captivated by its archaic charm. There is a fascination about this mechanism, which ensures that any subsequent visits to the city will include a return to the Outlook Tower.
And forget the camcorder.
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh;
tel: 0131 226 3709;
A great film by Judy Irving, a Sundance and Emmy Award winning filmmaker. It's about, well, the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. They are cherry-headed conures, also known as red-masked parakeets, an indigenous species from Peru. They have been also spotted farther east on Embarcadero Plaza.
To escape the bustle of the city, take a day trip (or longer if you are able) to Yosemite National Park. It's a long day but one of the most sensational days I've ever had. The memories of this astounding place live with me every day and I'm planning my next trip to do some serious hiking! Awesome - the highlight of our trip to the city.
Driving distance from San Francisco is approximately four hours;
Another of Trondheim’s claims to fame is that it is home to Norway’s national museum of musical instruments. The museum contains examples of both traditional ‘home grown’ instruments and international examples dating back to the 17th century. For those not interested in the museum, it is surrounded by 35 acres of very pleasant gardens from which you can also enjoy a panorama of the Trondheim fjord.
Lade Allé – about 3km north-east of the city centre; tel: 73 870 280;
Transport: Bus 3 and 4 from the centre of Trondheim;
The bar on top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel is a famous and historic bar. It has a fantastic view of the city and a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can have a drink at "weepers corner" where the wives/girlfriends of the sailors in WW2 watched their loved ones sail off to war, many to never return again. Truly mesmerising views.
1 Nob Hill (999 California Street) - you cant miss it, it is visible from all of San Francisco;
tel: (415) 616 6916;
Going to SF on a fairly tight budget, you can't beat renting a bike for a day (eg. at Blazing Saddles on Fisherman's Wharf). Very easy ride across the bridge, and down to Sausalito or Tiburon. Amazing views and a sense of achievement, all for $35 each including ferry ride back across the bay.
If it is a sunny evening, have a drink at Medjool's "sky terrace", the only rooftop bar in the city. Beautiful panoramas, beautiful people. The drinks and food are slightly less beautiful, but you come here for the 360 degree drop dead gorgeous views.
2522 Mission St (nearest intersection is 21st Street);
tel: (415) 550 9055;
If you and your kids like walking and don't mind a bit of a climb the Saturn Steps will take you up from the Castro to the Randall Museum and Corona Heights Park with rocky outcrops and breathtaking views. Surprisingly underused. Walk back via the Vulcan Steps into the Haight Ashbury
The Randall Museum: 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114;
tel: (415) 554 9600;
Get the bus out along Geary Blvd to The Cliff House - which is reputably fantastic if you are not on a budget ;-) we ate at the diner just up the hill for a tenth of the price. But the views from the Cliff House over Ocean Beach on the Pacific are pretty special. Then head down to the old Sutro Baths to check out where the San Franners used to come for their r n' r.
A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools of various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. Together the pools held 1.7 million gallons of water and could be filled in one hour by high tides. There were 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.
Balmy temperatures and abundant plants enhanced "California’s Tropical Winter Garden." The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time. Now all that remains are the ruins.
From here you can head through the little tunnel down by the baths and up the hill to the trail which leads along the coast all the way around to Chinia Beach via an increasingly impressive panorama of the GG.
Surfers take on the Pacific swells just below you at the base of the cliffs. You re-enter civilisation at China Beach and could probably walk up to the Palace of the Legion of Honor about half way around if you had time.
Walk through China Beach past the millionaires row of ab fab homes and if you still feel spritely, you can continue along the coast path to the GG or if not, grab a bus on Lincoln Blvd into the city - a lovely untouristy gem of a walk that is pretty easy to reach via public transport and not too strenuous (I did it with a 1yr old on my back!)
Get a 360º view of San Francisco hills and neighbourhoods, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It beats going to the top floor of a skyscraper.
Look at Coit Tower's vibrant frescos of life in California during the 1930s Great Depression that was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to employ local artists. Then walk down the Filbert Steps. Telegraph Hill is so steep that Filbert St. is a stairway, part of it is still wooden. It has a quasi-park feel with homes clinging to the side of Telegraph Hill. You might want to watch the documentary film, "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill."
Halfway down at 1360 Montgomery St. is an Art Deco apartment building that was used as Lauren Bacall's home in the 1947 Humphrey Bogart movie, "Dark Passage."
When you reach the bottom of the Filbert Steps, you can walk up the Greenwich Steps back to Coit Tower or continue walking through Levi’s Plaza (Levi Strauss HQ) to the Embarcadero and walk, or ride a Muni F/Market-Embarcadero streetcar, to the Ferry Building or Fisherman's Wharf.
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
1 (415) 362-0808
Walk to the top of Telegraph Hill or ride Muni #39 Coit bus.
Cafe located in the SF Art Insitute...but open to the public. Fresh-made decent food, relaxed environment, self-serve...but it is the view that is the thing. College is on the same hill as the Crooked Street (Lombard) and has a fantastic view of Fisherman's Wharf, the Bay, North Beach. There's also a wonderful Diego Rivera mural, usually a student art show going on...street parking only..sort of an Old California (before the gringos came) feel to the original building..patio, fountain...
800 Chestnut Street between Jones & Leavenworth
www.sfai.edu--look under Facilities for hours.
Closest bus line is #15 which goes near the Wharf.
Lencois is, to all intents and purposes, the hub of the Chapada Diamantina highlands. It is a sleepy (for now, at least) town which is reached from Salvador da Bahia in around six hours bus ride. From there, you can arrange day excursions on walks and/or to places of astounding beauty, including grottoes and caves some of which allow visitors to snorkel in, as well as longer treks through the hills to the 'Fumaca' Falls (pronounced 'Foo-Massa' = 'Smoke').
The town itself is a wonderfully relaxed place to go to either after the tropical buzz of Salvador or, if you're coming in from Brasilia or another place in the interior, it's a great point to stop off before hitting Bahia's state capital. One of the walks to Fumaca allows walkers to stop at the 'Escorregadeira', an exhilarating natural rock waterslide which may or may not make your local osteopath a few quid in years to come, as well as some stunning pools that precede an under-reported classic experience of travel in Brazil: showering under a waterfall.
The land is known as Chapada Diamantina because it used to be a hunting ground for diamonds. The boom is over, with eco-tourism now a main source of wealth for the region; diamonds aren't forever, but my memories of walking up to Fumaca will be with me for a lot longer.
Bahia state, six hours inland.
This new attraction located within the D-Wing of the former prison, is a fantastic introduction to the history of Oxford - (the city not the University) - and the stories of some of the Prison's former inmates.
As you walk through the tiny cells and atmospheric prison corridors, you hear all about the real people and events from the site’s turbulent past: the first Oxford teachings, the owners, visionaries, activists and inmates.
People like Marshall William Smith, the King’s prison keeper, who in the 1600s made Oxford Prison as feared and as notorious as Colditz; Mary Blandy a convicted murderess, who became an 18th-century celebrity; Jack Ketch, the public executioner and the man on which the Punch & Judy hangman character was modelled; and Anne Green, who survived her own hanging and narrowly escaped being anatomised by an Oxford medical student in 1650!
After your tour of the Prison there is the chance to climb the 101 narrow steps of the Saxon St George's Tower and enjoy the spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the Oxford skyline.
Oxford Castle, (off New Road), Oxford, OX1 1AY
T: 01865 260666
One of the best views in San Francisco is to be found in the financial district, at the top of the Bank of America building (of Towering Inferno fame). Its bar/restaurant (Carnelian Room) is open to the public after three in the afternoon and has some breathtaking views of the bay.
Bank of America Building
555 California St. (Kearny St.)
San Francisco, CA 94104
The Golden Gate Bridge is very impressive. Walk along it (it takes about an hour), then either walk back or go on to Sausalito (all pretty houses and greenery) and take the ferry back to San Francisco from there.
Golden Gate Park – you could literally spend days there. A good idea is walking from the Eastern to the Western end, stopping off on the way to check out a few highlights, like the flower conservatory, Japanese Tea Garden (as featured in Memoirs of a Geisha) and the De Young museum. Your reward at the end: the waves of the Pacific and the Beach Chalet, a restaurant/brewery where, if you time it right, you can have dinner with lovely sunset views over the ocean.
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