Day 9 in San Francisco
06.07.2014 - 06.07.2014
Today was my last day in the San Francisco hostel in which I had made so many friends. I loaded up on raisin toast and bagels again and went on my way to catch the number F tram down to Castro – an area well known for gay rights activism in the 70s – to be reunited with Declan and his family because I would spend the next couple of days with them. Hitched my pack on my back and went for a casual stroll down Jones Street towards Market street to catch the tram. Being engrossed in my phone and looking at directions another traveller whom I expect was Canadian runs up to me at the pedestrian crosses and says; “Miss, as a fellow traveller I feel like I need to warn you that you shouldn’t walk down this street. It’s the ghetto area, it’s not very safe. You’re best off to walk all the way to the left until you get to Taylor Street, it’s much safer. With your phone out you would be a massive target, I’ve been chased down this street before”. With a lot of gratuity I thanked the fellow traveller for warning me – I would have most likely been mugged or have my belongings stolen from me – I will be sure to research dangerous surroundings before I go walking with my bright red backpack through the ghetto area. Having done this in a large group the night before to get back to the hostel, it is quite confronting. At night many prostitutes line the street corners in the freezing cold of San Francisco’s wind, wearing nothing but skimpy tops, mini skirts and high heeled boots – I was rugged up in every layer I could find so I felt a strange respect for these women who brave the cold yet at the same time felt rather sad at their predicament.
Managed to only pay $1 instead of $2 for my tram ride – only had to flash a smile and use my Australian accent to have this minor win of the day. Walking through the hills of Castro I accidently stubbed my toe on uneven pavement and since I was walking downhill I tripped and almost smashed my face against the pavement! Lucky enough I spared my face and my nose and only had a sore toe and foot – I begrudgingly continued to stalk up the hill cursing SF’s crazy elevation.
Having heard so much about the Castro and its role in gay rights activism, we went for a walk through Castro street to visit Harvey Milk’s old camera shop and apartment. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay supervisor in the whole of United States– his story is quite remarkable, I highly recommend watching the movie Milk or googling his story. A very friendly Castro resident gave Declan and I a personal tour of the Castro – he must have noticed our accents and he gave us almost 30 minutes of his time to tell us more about gay rights activism and the history of the Castro – the locals are very friendly. In America at the moment, a lot of America live and work in different states which may have different laws on gay marriage – this means that if you married in a state where it is legal and work in a different state where it is not recognised and you have an accident then your married partner has no legal right to make decisions for you or be included in any legal proceedings. A story of one man was that he was not allowed to attend the funeral of his partner whom he had married because the state in which his partner passed away in did not legally recognise their union. In other states if children have two mums (one the biological and the other the partner) and the biological mother passes away the kids are sent to foster care because the state does not recognise that children may have two parents of the same gender even if the kids were raised by both mothers – it’s the modern day version of what happened to Aboriginal mothers in Australia as well as illegitimate pregnancy. I was outraged that homosexual people aren’t treated as equal. In a country which claims equality for all in their apparent ‘great nation’ it is shocking that they can deny people basic human rights. I will be sure to follow gay marriage legislation more closely at home. We also visited the Castro museum where we saw the suit Harvey Milk was assassinated in.
Following this Declan and I popped into a local grocery store (which was very upmarket – OMG it had the best deli and fresh produce I was SO impressed!) to pick up bread and chicken for lunch and hiked up one of the high vantage points to have an afternoon looking at the San Francisco skyline – it was quite the hike! Travelled back through the hills to the airBnB Buns and Co were staying at and caught a tram back into the city to watch the new Transformers movie. The movie seats were terrible because they were almost like reclining chairs so this heavy guy sat in front of me and the chair got pushed back squishing my legs because he was so fat he made the chair move backwards. First world problems.
A very insightful day today – thoroughly enjoyed the outspoken nature of Castro. The Levi’s jean shop had two male dummies in an embrace, with homosexual couples strolling through the streets looking very much in love – it was very touching.
- the Castro ( I would love to live here for a period one day!)
- Upmarket grocery stores (although expensive)
- All the hills give you great vantage points for a great shot of the skyline
- the amount of sweet food is starting to get to me and I’ve only been here for almost 2 weeks!)
- Americans seems to be very friendly and always happy to help tourists
- Their toilet seats are strange. They look a bit like fish bowls that are filled with a lot of water, not to mention most of them flush via sensor! So when you stand up it automatically flushes, had quite the shock when I first used one!