More photos of San Francisco

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I’ve got a blog post brewing about Yosemite, but I’m tired and don’t have a lot of time, so here’s some more shots of the very photogenic San Francisco. Advertisements

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Across the Golden Gate

I’ve been doing a lot of walking around San Francisco. The city is so different from Los Angeles, it’s hard to believe I’m in the same state. LA’s wide streets, barren terrain and urban sprawl have been replaced with cosy cafés, lush parks and tramways, making it feel much more like a European city. Despite how famously hilly it is, it’s surprising cycle-friendly. I hired a bike and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge, the city’s most iconic landmark.


The Golden Gate Bridge


San Francisco’s numerous hills provide ample vista opportunities, and it’s not hard to come across stunning views across the city. The most spectacular has to be from the dual summits of Twin Peaks, which I hiked up from the colourful Castro district, following many steep streets and stairs. It was so windy up top I could barely stand upright.


The view of downtown from Twin Peaks

I haven’t felt any earthquakes, and I’m not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed about that. Apart from the ever-present threat of the next big quake, I could see myself living here.

My camera’s had plenty of use – I took about a million photos of the bridge, and other areas like the Embercadero and the Golden Gate Park are highly photogenic.

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Travelling to San Francisco in style

I was supposed to be getting a lift up to San Francisco from someone on Couchsurfing but I never heard from them, so I took the train instead. I’m glad I did – though the drive would have been great, the train goes places the road doesn’t. They call it the Coast Starlight, and it runs all the way from LA to Seattle. My leg of the journey took 11 hours, but the time flew by. I’ve always loved train travel, but none I have taken has felt quite as sophisticated as this. This was LA to San Francisco in style.

The route took us right along the coast between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and I was lucky enough to catch a guided tour along this section, narrated by volunteers from Trails and Rails. This is program co-sponsored by Amtrak and the National Park Service educating rail passengers about the natural heritage of the area. I learnt all about the local fauna and history of the area.

We followed Highway 101 for much of the way – the route I would have taken by car – but then the routes diverged and we entered Vandenburg Air Force Base – where the road is not allowed. How come the train is allowed? Because it was here first! It costs a lot of money to relocate a train route, and evidently the US military wasn’t willing to foot the bill. Trains are stopped during missile tests, but there were none scheduled for this day. The base is home to multiple NASA launch sites, and also SpaceX, Elon Musk’s commercial space programme.

After San Luis Obispo, the tour guides departed and we descended into the mountains. Later that evening, dinner was served in the dining car and I was sat with fellow solo travellers, each with a unique story to tell. It was a good day considering I spent the entire time travelling.

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Under the Californian sun

I’m behind on my blogging schedule already. I’d been staying in Santa Monica a few days and decided to hire a bike and go cycling down the beach. A cycle track snakes its way along the sand and even though Americans don’t seem to understand the concept of ‘bikes only’, it’s by far the best way to see the beach. Venice is not really the right place if you want to actually go bathing, but it’s a fine place to walk or bike, or just sit in the cafes and watch the weird world go by. Freaks, musicians and muscle men show off their stuff while skaters and rollerbladers zip by. One place I sat at had a man who’d brought his parrot along, much to the delight of passers-by.

This is how I imagined California to be, the laid-back beach life under the sun and the palm-trees. Are you jealous yet? I took my bike all the way down Venice Beach and around the marina to Manhattan Beach. It took a couple of hours because I kept stopping to take pictures or sit in the shade. The route took me right past LAX airport, where aircraft flew right over my head. Manhattan is a much quieter beach, without the chain of cafes and bars lining the road, but I saw plenty of barbecue parties gathering in the evening sun. I got the feeling this is where the real locals come.

I made it back to Venice before sunset (nervously as my bike had no lights) and had dinner along the beachfront. I then took the opportunity for some night photography on the pier before turning in for the night.

Before I left town I was able to meet up with an old friend who by amazing coincidence was in LA on business, and went out drinking by the pier with his colleagues while lunatic daredevils thew themselves off the steps on skateboards. It was a great way to round off my short stay here. Santa Monica has managed to maintain a seaside town feel even though it’s part of the LA metro area, and has left an impression on me.

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Photos from the Los Angeles coast

I’ve been exploring the LA area. I’m staying in Santa Monica, an attractive coastal town, but yesterday I met someone with a car and we drove up to Malibu. The weather’s been mostly cloudy – this must be the ‘June Gloom’ I’ve heard about – but it’s a very pleasant climate. I’m too lazy to blog right now so here’s some photos.

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California is having a primary!

I’m in Hollywood. It’s not really my sort of place to be honest. I don’t go in for celebrity culture and kitsch. I do like movies though, and it’s fascinating to walk around the place that defined what movies are today, even if it’s a shadow of its former self. Today Hollywood has more of a spiritual association with filmmaking than a practical one – most films are made elsewhere, and only one studio, Paramount, still has its headquarters here. Even though many stars still live in LA, here you’ll see the people who didn’t make it; brought in by the allure of a fast path to stardom only to have reality hit hard. Strolling down Hollywood Boulevard I overheard a homeless man talking about stage fright, which about sums it up for me. It’s a place of broken dreams. Perhaps that’s what Green Day were really singing about?


My first full day here happens to be the day of the California presidential primary (I can’t help but read that in Kiefer Sutherland’s voice). I haven’t seen much evidence of this. I saw one Hillary sign and one Bernie sign and that was it, although I did find the Hollywood Heritage Museum closed to me when it turned out to be a polling station.


As I write this, the polls are still open for half an hour, and the latest polls have the Democratic candidates neck and neck (Not to get too political, but go Bernie!). Even if Sanders wins here though, the nomination lies pretty securely in Clinton’s hands. The less said about the nominee on the other side the better, I think. I decided earlier that I wouldn’t bring him up unless others do. I think most Americans are a bit embarrassed by him.

After wandering around Hollywood I found an awesome little cafe in the park called the Trails Cafe, which serves very good quiche, and hiked the eponymous trails up to the Griffith Observatory and back. The hilltop offers a stunning panoramic view of the LA skyline, not to mention the famous Hollywood sign. At the observatory a planetarium showed a 360 degree film about water in space. I rather enjoyed it, though it’s hard to be impressed by the technology when you’ve tried an HTC Vive (the dangers of being a tech enthusiast).


I’ve never seen a city as big as Los Angeles in my life. The urban sprawl seemed to spread to the horizon in every direction, and I could barely even make out the coast from my vantage point. Tomorrow though I’m planning to head west, to check out Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

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Due West

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. It’s not for a lack of travelling – since my last entry I’ve moved to Sweden, toured around Scandinavia, and gone hiking in England and Germany – but for a lack of motivation. I found the blog-posts were taking a lot of time out of my day to get just right. But when I said I was going to the US and Canada, a lot of people asked if I was going to blog – so I thought why not? I might try to do some shorter posts and not focus too much on getting a ‘story’ in each one to make it easier. That said, this might be the only post I write the whole trip, we’ll see!

My journey begins in Los Angeles, and will encompass the whole west coast up to Vancouver. Stay tuned to find out what happens.

Or not. This might be it. In the meantime though, enjoy this shot of LA coming in from the plane:


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