I’m struggling a bit with the public transport here in San Fransisco. I have been relying on Google, who have a habit of getting me somewhere to change buses, but then the second bus doesn’t exist, has changed route or changed number or something.
This happened the other day when I was trying to get to Golden Gate Bridge. I asked the driver whether he went there and got the reply:
“lady, I’m not giving out information here; I’m just driving the bus”.
I got on the bus anyway, but it turned out he wasn’t going there and I ended up with a long walk and blisters all over my feet. Lesson learned: don’t ask bus drivers where they are going. Even though I wanted to suggest to him that a simple ‘no’ was equally rude, quicker to say and would have saved me a lot of aggravation.
Anyway, next day I thought I’d save my blistered feet from any more potential trouble, and spend the day riding the number 33, because it leaves from right outside my door, I know exactly where it goes and it meant I got to take in both Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighbourhoods without needing to venture far from the bus route.
The Castro was a one time largely working-class area known as Eureka Valley and now it is San Fransisco’s main gaybourhood.
During the 1940s many servicemen were given dishonourable discharges from the services, due to their sexuality. Often these men didn’t want to go back home to families who may disown them or places where they had nothing waiting for them, so instead they settled in San Fransisco.
Then when the hippie/anti war movement started in neighbouring Haight, Castro residents started to organise themselves politically and the San Fransisco gay rights movement emerged out of that.
Meanwhile, a lot of the working-class Americans who had previously lived in the Castro chose to move out to suburbia, living the American dream with their little patch of land and white picket fence, thus helping to shape the Castro into the gaybourhood it is today.
After having a late lunch in the Castro, I headed on to Haight Ashbury, centre of the hippies and the ‘summer of love’ in 1967.
It is quite touristy now, and really an hour or so is enough for it, but good to see all the same. The place does still have a hippie vibe about it, full of small boutiques selling tie-die, incense and similar, plenty of Asian-influenced stores, and a few buskers.
In another life, one where I was born 20 years earlier (and in America) I could see myself living here in the 60s.