Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hill Walking and View Finding

What a fabulous long weekend! There was sun, there was fog, there was fun and there was a lot of exploring San Francisco and checking out some of the awesome sites around here!

On Saturday, we finally went to see the Mosaic Steps of 16th Avenue in Golden Gate Heights.  The Tiled Steps (http://www.tiledsteps.org) were created as a result of a neighborhood effort to beautify the 163 steps located at 16th Street and Moraga in San Francisco.

I had learned of these steps by accident when I was looking to locate the many hidden steps that are tucked in between San Francisco streets. It only took about 5 months to finally get to this part of the city to see this work of art in person.

To get to the steps, we took the N Judah train towards Ocean Beach and got off at 16th Avenue. We walked on 16th for a few blocks and up some steep stairs, keeping the top of the hill in sight. When we reached Moraga Street, we turned left and there were the steps! There were barely any people there and we were able to take our time going up the stairs, turning often enough to enjoy the view of the ocean and of the colorful houses that now cover the once sandy terrain of the Sunset District.

At the top of the stairs, the panoramic view is breathtaking. To the right, another set of 143 wooden steps promise an even better view from the top of Grand View Park, with a 360 degree view of the city, including the downtown area, the south suburbs of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean, the bay, and all of the hills in the city. The name Grand View is well deserved!

After walking around the park, we started making our way down towards Mount Sutro, on Moraga Street, on our way to Twin Peaks, the second planned destination of our Saturday outing.

As we walked towards Mt. Sutro, following the sight of the large tower that adorns its top, we thought about how, while walking around the city, you see tree-covered hills and you can easily think of what the city used to look like before the trees in the lowlands were cut down and people started to settle down here.

Watching these tree-covered, green hills, we imagined being in the wilderness and seeing hills like those. We suddenly realized how big the hills were, and were even more motivated to get to keep walking on, going up and down those hills, until reaching our destination.

After a nice walk, the three of us reached Twin Peaks—yes, Bomber was with us! The view from Twin Peaks is fantastic! Not quite as open as the one from Grand View Park, but what made it special, was the fact that the vanishing point goes down Market Street, all the way to the Ferry Building.

We sat around, took in the view and were appreciative for living in such an awesome city where we can jump on a train, walk a few blocks to go see amazing art on the streets to then go hiking in forested hills, all the way to an amazing overlook from which to appreciate the architectural beauty of the city. Wow… I do love my city!

When we were done, we started making our way down to try to find the nearest train station to catch a train back home. We were surprised at how long the descent was. I guess that in climbing about 3 hills, we slowly got higher and higher, all the way to Twin Peaks.

Back on Church Street, we caught the J Church train and made it back home with one tired puppy on our laps!

On Sunday we went to Point Reyes National Sea Shore. It was foggy. We played in the little bit of sun that managed to make it through the clouds. No pictures came out of that outing, only happy memories!

Monday—Happy Labor Day—we jumped on the N Judah again and headed to the Haight to find more graffiti by Banksy (and to buy more thread for my quilt project!). The destination was 1672 Haight Street, right in the heart of the Haight Ashbury area, where the hippies still stroll around once in a while.

We walked around trying to locate the wall in which the words “This is where I draw the line” were supposed to be painted. To our surprise, the words are now covered by a thick layer of white paint. There is no way of knowing now the words that used to be painted there.

The streets are alive and they are constantly changing, regardless of your artistic and political inclinations.

From here we walked towards Buena Vista Park and this time we ventured in with the intention of exploring it and of making it to the top of the park, to enjoy the views of the city.

Buena Vista is quite large and full of steps and paths leading to the top. On top of the hill, an open grassy field fills with people sunbathing, reading, eating a picnic lunch, or simply hanging out. Absolutely lovely!

We passed the green lawn and walked towards the back of the park, where we found several tree-logs on the ground, all offering an excellent bench from which to enjoy the tall trees, the views that peaked behind them, and the sunshine warming up our skins. We sat for a while before starting our descent towards the Mission.

The red lines show where the Banksy used to be.

We walked on 15th Street, through the Castro and into the Mission. The next stop, 2140 Mission Street, to see another Banksy. Once again, unfortunately, the graffiti had been covered, this time by a new mural. At least, while walking around the Mission, we saw alleys full of colorful murals painted by local artists!

Do you think those who covered the Banksy murals knew they were painting over the work of a famous street artist?

We moved on, saddened by the fact that both our addresses had yielded no results. As a way of lifting ourselves up, we bought burritos at Taqueria Cancun (Mission St. between 18th and 19th Streets) and headed to Dolores Park to eat them.


Not surprisingly, the park was full of people enjoying the gorgeous summer day by playing in the sun.

After catching some more rays, we walked down Dolores Street towards Market St. At some point we turned towards Church Street to wait for a train. Instead, the N Judah came rolling down Duboce Street and we hurried to catch it. With us, once again, we had a tired, but incredibly happy, dog.

Minutes later we got off the train, walked up the hill home and called it a day. The weekend had been successful and it was time for us to just relax. I’m going to continue making mental lists of the many places I want to see in San Francisco. I want to make sure I get everywhere I'm interested in. It is so much fun to be a tourist in your own city!

 Enjoy the photos from this week. For more photos, visit my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/WorldPhotosByPaola.

1 comment:

  1. WOW WOW WOW!! Capital post, Paola! I love how beautifully essayed this is - and the pictures, MAGIC!