It’s phenomenal how many songs have been written about San Francisco. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Lights” by Journey, “California on my mind” by Wildlights and the Tony Bennet classic, “I left my heart in San Fransisco.” My personal favorite might be the self-titled “San Fransisco” cover by the Mamas and the Papas.
Not only has the city inspired many songwriters but it has also been the inspiration for dozens of iconic bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, Carlos Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and the punk-rock group, Dead Kennedys.
Something about this quirky city calls to the artistic, creative, misfits of the world. It is a city who welcomes weird and different ideas, spins them around with magic pixie dust and controversy and spits them back out into the world as a picture of innovation and originality. That is the version of San Fransisco that made me so desperately want to visit it’s interior.
I spent six weeks reading “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot. The thick paperback is full of San Fransisco history, beginning with my all-time favorite story setting — The Summer of Love. But my interest in San Fransisco goes back way before I read this book. I’ve held a fascination with the counterculture of the flower power generation for many years and always I am pointed back to the San Franciscan roots of this movement. For this reason I was desperate to visit the city by the bay.
My first day in San Fransisco was spent largely by wandering through Golden Gate Park. It is here that the Human Be-in took place in January of 1967. Many culture-shaping minds attended this be-in such as Timothy Leary, who made famous on that day, the phrase “turn on, tune in and drop out.” American poet Allen Ginsberg and philosopher Alan Watts were also in attendance. Most believe that this event is what started the countercultural movement that lead into the summer of 1967, the Summer of Love.
Aside from its historical significance, I found Golden Gate Park to be the most beautiful park I’ve ever visited, and that includes many famous parks in Australia and Europe.
The variety of flora and vegetation was remarkable. The trees were gorgeous and the grass was vastly well-kept. Throughout the park my nostrils were greeted with the scents of lilies and pines. There were beautiful landscapes and refreshing shade trees everywhere I looked.
I couldn’t help but to imagine myself a resident of the city, giving myself unlimited access to the park for means of inspiration and relaxation.
There were several museums and gardens inside of the park that made for an interesting stroll. My boyfriend and I decided on the botanical gardens. The small entrance fee was money well spent. Two hours and three miles was hardly enough time to soak in all the beauty around us. Slowly and intently we walked around the exhibits of Japanese, Australian, New Zealand and Californian foliage. Giant succulents and delicious ferns captivated us as well.
While we could have easily spent the entire day walking through the park, we decided time was short and there were many other things on my list. Fortunately, Haight & Ashbury was first on my list and also right around the corner.