The Heady

, the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, the infamous island of Alcatraz - all

San Francisco, immortalised and

embedded in our imagination by a

however, captures and exceeds any

San Francisco is the buzz and the

attractions which are not to missed. A jaunt up to the Haight-Ashbury


perception of San 1 Francisco, you'll find it's

5 actually go there. . Words: Helen Monaghan

Haights Of San Francisco

Whatever your

exceeded when you

The streets of San Francisco, the dock of the bay, Haight-Ashbury,

are synonymous with the fabled

plethora of books, films and songs. The reality of San Francisco,

of our preconceived romantic notions. The first thing that hits you about

excitement which puts you on a natural high as you speed off to look at all the major tourist

area, the former residency of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and a bunch of old hippies, is now home to exclusive boutiques and retro shops, though the odd pipe shop still evokes the era of free love, albeit in a modern form.

Off the beaten but still steep track, San Francisco's

1 neighbourhoods are an essential part of the whole experience, with each district retaining a strong, cultural

and ethnic identity. The Mission district with its Latino

charm lined with Mexican taquerias; the picturesque Castro, the core of the city's gay community; the hustle

and bustle of Chinatown; the melange of bars, restaurants and sex shops of North Beach (Little Italy), the place where the Beatniks used to hang out. Here,

In Golden times: San Francisco

have a beer at Vesuvio Cafe, a former watering-hole of Jack Kerouac and Dylan Thomas, or browse around the City Lights Bookshop, a treasure trove of books from the Beatnik era.

For a bit of culture, visit the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art which houses an impressive collection of photography (Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, William

Hip destinations in 2000

In the quest to find unspoilt and ’off

the beaten track’ destinations, STA

offer next year’s essential destinations for the independent

traveller. Cambodia Now more modish than

Vietnam to visit in South East Asia, at first sight Cambodia is quiet and tranquil - a welcome relief after the madness of Bangkok and Hanoi. But watch out, the nightlife in Phnom Penh is among the craziest you'll encounter anywhere. STA offer fares from £689.

Kerala This southern Indian state is 3 set to become the new Goa, so visit

before it’s overdeveloped. It’s got a brilliant climate, beautiful empty

beaches, seafood galore and exciting 1 cities. STA offer fares from £399.

Cuba Cocktails, cigars, sun, sand,

1 Fidel and fabulous music Cuba's

got the lot and it’s set to grow as the Caribbean’s most alternative destination. Package tourism has made inroads into just a few isolated

I localities, leaving most of the

country free for independent travellers. STA offer fares from £489.

Las Vegas The world capital of kitsch (both retro and contemporary)

which makes it a Mecca for writers,

Klein) and major works by Jackson Pollock and Clyfford

Still. For retail therapy, downtown Union Square serves as the city's shopping mecca.

But a word of warning if you're going to San Francisco, be sure to take plenty of cash.

intellectuals, gamblers, drinkers, party goers and those who generally like to go a little mental. Forget about gangsters, this town is very law abiding; be careful, the legal drinking age is 21 and the drug laws are draconian. STA offer fares from £205.

Stating the obvious

this equally impressive building,

Escape to Alcatraz

Alcatraz Former inmates describe what life was like on ’The Rock', as this eerie audio tour takes you round the cells of Al Capone and Robert ’the birdman of Alcatraz’ Shroud.

Cable Cars Enjoy the city’s infamous steep streets on these unique cable cars.

Golden Gate Bridge Often shrouded in fog, the bridge offers superb vistas of the City skyline on a clear day. Haight-Ashbury Victorian architecture lines the pathway to the former hippy haven.

SFMOMA The Museum Of Modern Art's impressive collection is housed in

designed by architect Mario Botta.

The List Alternative

C Bobby's Owl Tree This peculiar pub acts as a shrine to owls with stuffed and ceramic varieties adorning the interior.

Castro Check out the magnificent Castro Theatre fora classic double bill at one of San Francisco’s few remaining traditional movie palaces. Cab rides Bite the Bull/tr and ask a cabbie to speedily take you down Nob Hill. Sometimes, you don’t even have to ask.

The Edinburgh Castle Don’t entirely dismiss the troubled Tenderloin area

and pay a visit to this pub whose owner hails from Edinburgh.

North Beach So much to see City Lights Bookstore, Tosca Cafe, Fuse Bar, Vesuvio Cafe and The Stinking Rose a restaurant whose staple ingredient is garlic.

South of Market The area wuth the largest concentration of clubs including 1015 Folsom, The Sound Factory and Bangkok Lounge. Check out the free newspapers Bay Guardian and SF Weekly for up-to-date listings.

Getting there

STA offer return fares to San Francisco from Glasgow and Edinburgh for £199 (incl tax).

STA Travel are at 184 Byres Road and The University of Strathclyde, 90 John Street Glasgow. Tel: 0141 338 6000

27 Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 226 7747 o 30 Upperkirkgate, Aberdeen. Tel 01224 658222 - www.statrave|

118 THE “81' 7—21 Oct 1999

l l !