Thursday 2 February 2012

San Francisco-Cable Cars, Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge

The triad of Cable Car System, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz have made San Francisco one of the best places to travel in the world with tourists from all over the world coming to personally experience and see the tourist places. San Francisco is also referred to by the name Frisco.

San Francisco cable car
San Francisco Cable Car

The Cable Car System of San Francisco is the only surviving  manually operated Cable Car System in the world. The sight of Cable Cars gliding on steel tracks in the middle of the streets  without any electrical overhead cables or engine noise and smoke makes one curiously wonder as to how the thing moves.Early models had 2 carriages,one having the grip and the brakes and the trailor for passengers.They were built by companies familiar with horse drawn carriages and the front car replaced the horse.
Frisco Cable Car , San Francisco
 The cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters but, their small service area and premium fares  make them more of a tourist attraction.It is the only transportation system listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the only moving National Monument. Cable Car system is one of the most popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, which is the third most visited city of the US.
San Francisco cable car Tracks
San Francisco Cable Car Tracks and Cable, San Francisco
The Cable cars which are built on 4 wheel trucks run on 2 steel tracks in the middle of the streets and in the middle of the tracks runs a steel cable below the ground surface.Every cable car is pulled along it's hilly track by the underground cable. The cable is gripped with a vise-like mechanism that is operated via the grip lever in the front of the car.The operator  called Gripman needs a lot of upper body strength to operate the grip and brakes. Also acute coordination is needed to navigate over crossing cables and the traffic , and only about 25% of the applicants actually make it to be Gripmen. There have been a couple of Gripwomen also. 
Hilly Tracks of the cable cars, San francisco
Hilly Tracks of the Cable Cars, San Francisco
San Francisco is located on the San Andreas fault which is responsible for the earthquakes and also which created the hills. The creator of the cable car system saw five horses struggle up a hilly track  with a heavy load, slip and get dragged down to the bottom and to their deaths.Even when the electric trolleys came ,The Cable car system was the only one which could work on the really steep hills.The diesel buses could  of course take care of all steep hills  and but for the determined efforts of the citizens, the cable cars would have disappeared by now. The two main tracks end at the Fisherman's wharf but at 2 different points.
Fisherman's Wharf Eateries
Eateries At the Fisherman's Wharf ,San Francisco
The Fisherman's Wharf was so named because of the resident fishing fleet which used to go out into the bay to get fish and crabs.The opening of the fishing season was an festive affair and  was marked with a lot of religious processions and priestly blessings. San Francisco is famous for its  Dungeness crab.The eateries at the Fisherman's Wharf still serve the same dishes like Clam Chowder and Crab Meat Cocktails in paper cups as they did three generations ago.
Franciscan Crab Restaurant,San Francisco
Franciscan Crab Restaurant, San Francisco
Sea food is the flavour in San Francisco all around, from the cluster of small eateries to the  fine dining restaurants like the Franciscan Crab Restaurant.
Ferry To Alcatraz, San Francisco
 The ferry to Alcatraz-The Rock- leaves from Pier 33 at the Fisherman's Wharf. Alcatraz is an island 1.5 Km into the ocean and can be reached only by Boat.It was till 1963 a prison, but is now a highly developed recreational area. A Hollywood movie by the name The Rock ,starring Sean Connery is set in Alcatraz and San Francisco in which the cable cars are also involved in a particular carnage scene. An Indian Bollywood movie Qayamat,set in Mumbai -starring Ajay Devgan-is based on the same premise,but with a few twists in the plot.

Submarine USS Pampanito, San Francisco
A WWII Submarine is also anchored at Fisherman's wharf ,which the tourists can enter to see and experience the Submariner's world and life.
Submarine Torpedo Room, San Francisco
Submarine Torpedo Room, San Francisco
The yellow and black cylindrical object is the torpedo.It was a relief  to know there  was no amatol-explosive-in the torpedo.
Submarine Antiaircraft Gun,San Francisco
The Boy Scouts were going to spend the whole night that day locked up inside the submarine for 12 hours so that they could have some feel of being a submariner.

The Rainforest Cafe, San Francisco
Dinner at the The Rain Forest Cafe at the Fisherman's Wharf was quite an adventurous affair and the restaurant chain is quite popular among children. The retaurant has green plants with colorful flowers ,water sprinklers, flashing lights, robotic animals and insects, a large aquarium, ceiling  having optical illusions of a rain forest with a thunderstorm coming every thirty minutes accompanied by a lot of sudden commotion.
Aquarium at Rain Forest Cafe,San Francisco
Aquarium at Rainforest Cafe, San Francisco
The food served ranges from Beef,Chicken, Fish but the most favoured  is the Crab Dip.The most popular dessert at the Rainforest Cafe is the Sparkling Volcano Dessert.
Sparkling Volcano Sundae Dessert
Sparkling Volcano Sundae Dessert,Rainforest Cafe, Frisco
The Sparkling Volcano Sundae  Dessert makes a very dramatic entry with sparks flying from a sparkler and the staff yelling Volcano-Volcano. I believe this is a tradition.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate is the opening of the San Francisco Bay and the bridge over the opening is called the Golden Gate Bridge. It has been the symbol of San Francisco from the time it has been built. It is also the most visitd and most photgraphed bridge in the world. The roadway is hung from two cables that pass through the two gigantic main towers and are fixed in concrete at each end. Each cable is made of 28000 strands of wire and each wire was stung starnd by strand using a bicycle type of contraption  being ridden by an operator at the top most height of the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge Exit, san Francisco
Exit of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge is acclaimed as one of the  most beautiful bridges. With its gigantic towers, sweeping main cables, and great span, it is a feast for the eyes featuring color, sound, and light. Besides the daily commuter traffic more than nine million visitors come to have a look at the bridge annually i.e average of 25000 tourists per day. 

Pylon Anchoring,Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The photograph shows the procedure adopted for anchoring the ends of the suspension cables.The toal load is finally transmitted to the concrete structure shown here. The Fog and the Wind are integral to the Golden Gate and were one of the biggest obstacles in the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Matters Seem More Serious Then They Actually Are.,Golden gate,Frisco
 There are more suicides at Golden Gate Bridge than at any other place in the world. The annual number is about 1500 ,approx 4 per day. The police is able to prevent about 700 suicides every year by catching and the person in the nick of time and subsequent counselling. 
San Francisco From The Top Of  a Hill
San Francisco has several hills, most of them very steep, but  only seven  of them are original and popular among tourists e.g Telegraph Hill, Rincon Hill, Twin peaks, Mount Sutro and Nob Hill (sometimes called Snob Hill, beause of its affluent  resident's attitude). One hill has  Lombard  Street  ,which with its 8 hairpin turns is known as the crooked street. Vermont Street is much more steep,has 7 hairpin turns, and is known as the crookedest in the world.
In the evening a short train ride took us to the Berkeley University and after exploring the campus, rounded it off with dinner at China Village, a Chinese food restaurant with some strict regulations and rules, and  a take it or leave it attitude. The food was better than excellent.
All the above attractions make San Francisco the top destination for tourism and ranks 3rd amongst the tourist places of the US interms of numbers.


  1. I so wish you had written this post earlier. Would have been so much more fun and more goodies to enjoy and eat. Next time! :D

  2. San Francisco was also the home for the sitcom 'Full House' and you should post the picture of the house where the series was shot. Not to forget the garlic restaurant called 'The Stinking Rose' where they served everything in garlic flavor including Garlic ice-cream Yuck!! :p
    Not to forget, Frisco has one of the highest gay population.

  3. The cable car ride through San Francisco was fun! No wonder it is one of the top destinations for tourists. You've made it come alive and it makes me want to pack my bags and savour all the excitement of the crooked street, the Golden Gate bridge, the sparkling volcano sundae dessert, the sea food and even the garlic flavoured ice cream!

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