Destination Information - San Francisco, California, USA
If Los Angeles is a brash young motor mouth then San Francisco can be considered the quiet, more thoughtful older sibling. America's favourite city destination, this is a place that even moves the most blasé of nations to admiration.
In the attractiveness stakes the city gets a huge helping hand from its geographical position. The bay, when not shrouded in fog, is one of the most dramatic settings for a city anywhere in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge that spans it is a remarkably impressive piece of 20th-century engineering, while crouched in the middle is the grey homunculus of Alcatraz, a fascinating counterpoint of utilitarian ugliness to the graceful functionality of the bridge.
But the geographical impact isn't just in the surroundings, it is imprinted on the city itself. San Francisco's grid of streets is written on one of the steepest urban landscapes found anywhere, and it makes for an impressive canvas upon which the San Franciscans have established one of the world's great cities, not to mention facilitating the best car chase sequences found in the movies.
It is the steep streets that led to the development of San Francisco's famous public transport system - the cable car. These old carriages still ply routes in the city, with a lone brakeman all that stands between the passengers and plummeting down the precipitous thoroughfare unchecked.
If the public transport system is a roller coaster then it is a fitting mode of transport for the inhabitants, the most liberal and diverse population found anywhere in America. A massive and vocal gay community lives side by side with the US's largest Chinese population, and literally hundreds of other nationalities and lifestyles are represented in San Francisco's multi-cultural community. It makes for a heady cocktail of experience for the visitor; move from district to district and you'll see all the facets of life represented, warts and all.
There is truly something for everyone here - Americana in all its glory is tempered with European style and a continental dash of panache that pervades everyone and every thing.