Tales of San Francisco
As I admired the sunset from the hill above Golden Gate bridge, the city of San Francisco glittered far away in the dying light. This is one of the great cities that everybody recognize without even visiting it.
The allure of California has been beckoning to people all over the world, as artists such as Scott McKenzie and Mamas & Papas performed hymns about the sunny state.
For me, being a decade younger than that, it probably started with movies such as A View to a Kill, Big Trouble in Little China and Bullit, where the city acts as a vibrant backdrop to the action. The steep slopes and the beautiful bridge are quite eye-catching on cinema, which makes the surroundings appear in a lot of productions.
I have walked through the smelly alleys of Chinatown (luckily without meeting Lo Pan), shaken the bars of Al Capone’s cell on Alcatraz and gazed up at the impossibly tall redwood trees in Muir Woods. But the best part is simply to walk along the streets and feel the atmosphere in the Golden City.
Few places are so steep in cultural history as the area around Columbus Ave. I had a look at the City Lights bookshop at 261 Columbus Ave, which has been a hub for Beat literature for half a decade.
A block north is the Caffe Trieste, another classic institution where Francis Ford Coppola wrote the script to The Godfather (1972). Right across the street from Columbus Ave is the pub where Michael Douglas had a pint in Basic Instinct (1992).
As I walked westbound, I passed the building at 29 Russel St where Jack Kerouac stayed with Neal and Carolyn Cassady while writing on his book On the road. Finally arriving at the crossroad of Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippie culture in 1967.
After checking out the greasy record stores in the area, we spent our last dimes in the cavernous Amoeba Records before heading west into Golden Gate park at sunset.