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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sausalito, California

Sausalito is the perfect day trip from San Francisco. And I just really love the name.  It sounds European and just so quaint, doesn't it? Oh you know, just spending the day walking around Sausalito.  Okay, and I digress. 

A trip to Sausalito is the perfect way to see San Francisco from a far, and to see whats on the "other side" of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Sausalito is the little town located at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is a popular attraction to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Sausalito, and take the ferry back, but more on that later. 

 Let's talk a little bit about the town. 
Thank you Wikipedia. 

"Fishing village and sybaritic enclave"

"In the post-Gold Rush era, Sausalito's unusual location became a key factor in its formation as a community. It was San Francisco's nearest neighbor, less than two miles (3 km) away at the nearest point and easily seen from city streets, yet transportation factors rendered it effectively isolated. A boat could sail there in under half an hour, but wagons and carriages required an arduous skirting of the entire bay, a journey that could well exceed a hundred miles. As a result, the region was largely dominated by two disparate classes of people, both with ready access to boats: commercial fishermen and wealthy yachting enthusiasts".  Source

Transit hub

"In the 1870s, the North Pacific Coast Railroad (NPC) extended its tracks southward to a new terminus in Sausalito, where a rail yard andferry to San Francisco were established. The NPC was acquired by the North Shore Railroad in 1902, which in turn was absorbed in 1907 by the Southern Pacific affiliate, the Northwestern Pacific."  Source

"By 1926, a major auto ferry across the Golden Gate was established, running to the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco.[16] This ferry was an integral part of old U.S. Highway 101, and a large influx of automobile traffic, often parked or idling in long queues, became a dominant characteristic of the town. Northwestern Pacific commuter train service also expanded to serve the increased traffic volume, and Sausalito became known primarily as a transportation hub".  Source

"This era came to an end in May 1937, with the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge made large-scale ferry operations redundant, and since the new route of Highway 101 bypassed Sausalito entirely, in-town traffic was quickly reduced to a trickle. Car ferry service ended in March 1941 (passenger ferry service, however, continues to this day, linking downtown Sausalito with both the Ferry Building in San Francisco's Embarcadero, and Pier 39 in the Fisherman's Wharf district). Northwestern Pacific also closed its Sausalito terminal in March 1941, although some tracks remained in use as "spur tracks" for freight trains as late as 1971. Source

Bootlegging and Rum Runners

"Sausalito was a center for bootlegging during the era of Prohibition in the United States. Because of its location facing the Golden Gate and isolated from San Francisco by the same waterway, it was also a favorite landing spot for rum runners.[17] The 1942 film China Girl has some footage of Sally Stanford's Valhalla restaurant on the waterfront. The scene shows the docks and illustrates rum running".  Source

Sausalito today is quite different.  
Today, you will find expensive hotels, boutiques, quaint shops, adorable sidewalk restaurants, and most of all, a ton of bikers.

 If you are looking for a luxury hotel, The Inn Above Tide was located right in the heart of the action, by the ferry pier and the busy corner of town.  This lovely hotel extended into the pier with these gorgeous balconies overlooking the water.  we were just here for the day but oh how I wish I could have spent an evening sipping wine on one of those decks. This 4 star hotel has a daily rate ranging from $350 to $1200 and with the luxury hotel and panoramic views, I can see why.  Check out their website in the link above and lets put this place on our list for when we hit the lotto or are in the mood to splurge. 

If you are a budget traveler like myself (womp womp) you can try to find a cheaper hotel somewhere in San Francisco, or even cheaper, Oakland on the other side of the bay.  San Francisco does not have really friendly hotel prices so again, if you are pinching pennies (like this poor graduate student is) look to spend the night in Oakland.  

One thing you will notice when walking around Sausalito (and very quickly) is all of the bicycles.  Bicycles EVERYWHERE.  And a lot of people riding bicycles that A:  Look like they barely fit on their bike or B:  Look like they havent ridden a bike in 20 years.  It can be a little nerve wrecking drive alongside these jerky bicycle riders (and there are a lot of hills- sorry guys). 

There is a bicycle valet virtually on every corner so if you do have your bike, no fears, you will be among friends and have plenty of "parking options".

Blazing Saddles was the company name we saw on almost every bike.  I have always heard of biking over the bridge, but I was appalled by how many people were out there.  But then again, what a wonderful way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The trip advisor page has all the information you need on different bike rentals, routes, and any details you need.  If you are thinking about biking over the bridge, this is a great resource! We were short on time and had the dog, so we decided to drive over the bridge.
(I still need to find out how to pay for that toll- it said no stopping... confusing! I will find out before my San Fran post!)

The last thing we noticed about Sausalito (well, kind of California in general) was all the foreigners.  SO many foreign tourists, none of which spoke english, all of which walked reallllly slow taking pictures of the weirdest things.  Like art sculptures INSIDE bulidings through windows and other odd things.   It could get a little frustrating trying to get around crowds of European families spewing off another language and taking up the entire sidewalk, but I suppose that is bound to happen when you are traveling in popular well known areas.  

Patience Katie, Patience. 

The culture of this little town was really cute and is what I really love about a place.  Small town (important for me!) seaside restaurants, docks, boats galore, sidewalk cafes and bicycles everywhere.  A lovely little stop whether you are renting a bike and riding the bridge, or just passing through on your way to San Francisco.  Sausalito also offers gorgeous views of San Francisco and Alcatraz across the water.  Another popular attraction but again, we had a little bit of time and the pooch. 

I told you it was cute-- A charming coastal town with an upside-down boat for a bus stop bench.  And the little fishy markers around all the storm drains.  The little details of a city or a town really make me smile.  I hope to be back to stay at a beautiful hotel, and maybe even bike over the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge.  If you are going to be a tourist, may as well go full monte right?  Rent bikes over the bridge with a selfie stick in hand and I will fit right in with the crowd ;)
Check back in tomorrow as we talk about The Golden Gate Bridge and Baker Beach.
And I will share my details on how you pay the darn toll for the GG Bridge (You can't pay it on the bridge!)

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