Since we visited San Francisco we are regularly asked whether we cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge. If you know us, you will be sure that we were found walking over the Golden Gate Bridge instead. And we are glad we did too. I think you get a better chance to look around you and take it all in. The Golden Gate Bridge is impressively huge so you’ll spend most of the time with your head tilted upwards.
I know it was a year ago and I am just getting around to writing it up, but it has been a fast year and I know you’ll forgive me for my lateness.
Walking over the Golden Gate Bridge
Just to fill you in a little bit, we actually hiked our way to the Golden Gate Bridge via the Presidio of San Francisco. So doing a bit more walking was something that we wanted to do anyway.
The first thing that stood out for me was the sheer amount of traffic crossing the bridge. We have some of the busiest motorway links near us in the North West of England, but the number of cars we saw on the Golden Gate Bridge was crazy! It makes you wonder where they were all going!
Before you can get onto the bridge, you first have to go beneath it. This in itself is a bit of an experience as you hear the cars thudding above you. There is also a bit of engineering information and demonstration pieces. Being over a mile in length and open to the elements, the bridge needed to be constructed in a way that dealt with that. Not to mention earthquakes – they are not a friend to bridges.
Understanding a bit more about the construction and design of the bridge really gives you some perspective. When you’re up there and the wind is battering you, but the bridge feels really stable, you know they did a good job.
Onto the bridge
There are designated lanes for cyclists and walkers which are set aside from the cars. So you are free to look up and around in relative safety. You do need to keep an eye out for the odd cycle tour though as they can be large. There are some bike that come out from nowhere too, so just be aware is my advice!
Of course we had to take the obligatory selfie to show that we were on the bridge. And for some reason it looks like we were the only people on there. We were early, but it was certainly a lot busier than it looks here.
One thing about the bridge being so exposed is that it does get a bit chilly in the wind. We could very well have put our waterproofs on over the top of our fleeces as wind breaks, but we opted for walking faster instead.
Standing next to the upright parts of the bridge you really start to see the scale of the structure. It towers so high above you and must contain enough rivets to fill the Albert Hall (nod to The Beatles for the reference). In the distance you can see glimpses of the John Muir Forest and over the water to Alcatraz.
Although the bridge is only 1.7 miles in length, it takes a while to get over and back again because of all the photos you just have to take. Honestly, I am finding it quite the challenge to choose which ones to share here!
I know I have mentioned it a lot, but the size is astonishing. I find it so hard to believe how they built it in 1933 and how it is still in constant use today. Of course it will have had a lot of maintenance over the years, but that is one feat of engineering.
John Muir Woods
I had originally planned for us to visit the John Muir woods on the other side of the bridge. Unfortunately an 8 hour cycle to get there would have been a bit too much. Our trip to San Francisco was only short so we had to make the most of the time we had. Next time, though, we will get there, we just need the right opportunity to come along…hint, hint!
Back along the bridge we went, grabbing a few more photos en route.
The view over the bay was a nice alternative to playing in the woods, so I made sure to make the most of the view while we walked our way back over the bridge. It was also a good opportunity to see where we could head to next on our adventure in San Francisco. Of course we would be hitting the tourist spots, but we also wanted to discover something a little more offbeat – if we could.
Back on Land
Back on land we headed towards the visitor centre and facilities. Where we snapped a shot of Jit with the trig point (ha ha! We couldn’t help it!)
After hiking and walking for some considerable miles, we stopped for a brew break too. And to do a compare and contrast of the UK and the US KitKat. In case you’re wondering, the UK version won for flavour and crispness. During this break, as well as being surrounded by tourists taking photos, we planned our walk along the coastline. Rather than heading straight into the centre of the city, we wanted to savour the waterfront for as long as possible.
Down by the water
From the water’s edge, the Golden Gate Bridge once again took the huge stature that we saw from Baker Beach on our hike over. Despite it seeming huge when you’re walking over it, it seems even grander and larger from a low-level. I think we spent a good half hour at this point just looking in wonder at the bridge spanning the water and glowing against the bright autumn skies.
It is one of the things that I find with travel. How immense or disappointing things can be from the guide books (think the Mona Lisa!) To really appreciate these places, you have to visit yourself and see it for your own eyes. Whether it is smaller or larger than you imagined, you get to experience it for yourself.
The path turned to sand and the bridge began to shrink into the horizon as we headed further into town. I personally would recommend walking along the beach rather than the road as you do get to see a different side. Rather than hoards of tourists, you see locals running, cycling and enjoying the views themselves.
Wandering past marinas and hilly streets in the distance we spotted a high green hill. The kind that is perfect for a picnic and one that you just know will offer perfect views to accompany a sandwich and brew.
We made our way over and up to join the many workers and locals soaking up the late season sunshine during their lunch breaks. And you know what? The view really was amazing. And gave us the time to enjoy the sunshine ourselves before hitting the tourist spots on Pier 21.
But for now, I will leave you with the view of the Golden Gate Bridge over the greenery. I’ll share the touristy bits in my next blog.
Have you been to San Francisco? Would you like to?
Let me know in the comments below.