Golden Gate Bridge, Redwood trees, Baker Beach

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In contrast to my tight schedule during my previous visit to San Francisco(SF), I had a couple days to explore the bay area this time. My plans involved biking across the famous Golden Gate bridge. I ended up covering more places than I expected and had a wonderful time biking and meeting my friend.

Day 1:  Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) – Old Mill Park – Ferry
I reached Blazing Saddles – bike rental shop at around 12:30 PM and rented their Deluxe Comfort Hybrid bike for the day. At the shop, I expressed my desire to see the Redwood (world’s tallest) trees at Muir woods, but was suggested against it as it was a difficult ride. Instead, I was suggested to visit Old Mill park which had similar trees and easier to get to.

The sheer immensity and the distinct International Orange color of the bridge made it visible from miles away. I had worn my GoPro on my headgear and tried to shoot short videos whenever I got a better view. Fort Point, located near the bottom of southern end of the bridge, was my first stop. People were trying to surf on the waves which were pretty close to some big rocks. After enjoying the expanse of water and shoreline of bay, I made a gentle climb to reach the entrance of the bridge.

It was sunny and numerous other visitors were there too enjoying the experience of walking/biking the bridge. GGB links northern tip of SF (south) to Marin County (north) and is 2,737 m in length. Its clearance above high water averages at about 220 feet (67 m) while its towers are about 746 feet (227 m) above the water. Mountains and cliffs can be seen on the north west, Pacific ocean in the west, Alcatraz island in the far east and SF’s skyline in the south west. It consists of 6 roadway lanes and space to walk/bike on either side of the bridge. I had to be careful while biking there, as I had to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings without bumping into other commuters or falling over.

The two towers and the huge cable running from the towers to base of the bridge looked impressive. Occasionally I stopped to enjoy the view and kept asking others to click my pic with parts of the bridge as background. SF’s skyline seemed to shrink as I biked further north. It felt like crossing any other bridge and I was not spellbound by the beauty of GGB until I saw it from the Baker beach the next day. After spending some time at the Vista point at the north end of the bridge, I started to bike downhill to a small beautiful town called Sausalito. The beautiful town encompasses both steep, wooded hillside and shoreline tidal flats. Due to the limited time I had, I decided against stopping for lunch and continued to Old Mill Park instead.

I found navigating a little challenging as I was hesitant to use Google maps to save my phone battery. Fortunately, I found a couple from Montana who too were headed to Old Mill park and I tagged along for the remainder of the journey. The route to Old Mill park was splendid, with hills and meadows and occasional crossings on wooden bridges. We reached Old Mill Park and started exploring the region by taking the winding paths. This area is one of the homes for Redwood species which contains the largest and tallest trees in the world. Greenery, pure air and the cloudy weather made the place extremely lovely. Aesthetic houses in the woods looked amazing too. We then went to the park itself where we could actually appreciate the magnificence of the huge trees and I felt really good hugging them. I frantically tried to fit the trees in a single pic from my phone. We left the park after a while and planned to take the ferry back to SF from a town called Tiburon.

This route too was pretty, as it ran across fields and along the shoreline. We had to wait for an hour at Tiburon for the next ferry. We boarded the ferry at 5.55 PM which took us across the bay to one of the piers at SF with evening views of GGB and Alcatraz island. I stood out in the open wind to get better views which had turned my head similar to Porcupine. A guy smiled at me when he came out to the open. I was not sure if that was friendly smile these Americans give or was it due to the spikes. I had biked around 30 kms covering GGB, Sausalito, Old Mill Park and Tiburon in a loop. I did not walk the bike this time unlike my last bike trip in India. I returned the bike, had the same ice cream which I had during last visit at Cold Stone Creamery, ate oily fried prawns at Lou fish and returned to hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Day 2: Burmese restaurant – Ghirardelli square – Baker beach
CK(my colleague from Deloitte) and his wife picked me from the hotel at San Mateo in their car and we left for SF. We had a delicious lunch at a Burmese restaurant in Chinatown and then went to Ghirardelli sqaure for chocolate ice cream. The chocolate sauce was quite different and yummy. We then drove to Baker beach, on the western side of the city. It offered excellent views of the water, mountains and the GGB itself. It was here that I fully appreciated the beauty and the majesty of the bridge. I was surprised at how attractive the bridge looked from here. Walking along the beach I enjoyed the picturesque evening. I then headed to the Airport in an Uber.

Biking to the Old Mill Park was one of my most favorite experiences in the Bay area during the two visits.

Here’s a Tip: Start biking early if you would like to cover the woods.

Nikhil Navali

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