1. Baguette and scrambled eggs at Ashish and Nilu's
  2. Golden Gate Bridge
  3. Mimosa and Margheritas in Sausalito
  4. Missing the ferry and almost missing it again
  5. 4th of July Fireworks
I haven't seen the Lonely Planet USA. But I am sure biking across Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is listed as one of the top 10 travel experiences in United States. When I told Kashyap we could do this, he was keen as ever. He called up a few friends to check if they'd join. We zeroed in on July 4 - a national holiday.

We met at Ashish and Nilu's place for breakfast. While the ladies debated the thickness of baguette slices, the guys were eager to gobble up the eggs and pick up bikes from rental store. Bikes, helmet, route map, all check. 8 miles from San Francisco to Sausalito over the Golden Gate Bridge. Another 8 miles from Sausalito to Tiburon. And a ferry ride back from Tiburon to San Francisco. The plan was pretty simple and easy. Except that most of us hadn't touched a bike in a few years. Some in a couple of decades. One of the ladies suggested the couples should pick up tandem bikes. It was quickly shot down.

Deep breath. Wariness and hesitancy would not prevail that fine morning. We shrugged the inhibitions, picked up the bikes, adjusted the seat heights and strapped our helmets. The start was a bit jerky for some, but a little trial and error and hop and stop eased it off. I felt the steepest inclines from the entire trip presented themselves in the first 4 miles of the trip.

As we biked past expensive cars in beautiful homes along the beach, I thought it is really difficult not be jealous of San Franciscans. They have Napa Valley, Yosemite, Highway 101, Monterey, Los Angeles - all a few hours away. And they have the Golden Gate Bridge right in the city!

Golden Gate is San Francisco's architectural icon. It is the answer to New York's Statue of Liberty and London's Tower Bridge. It is the country's second longest suspension bridge (the longest is in New York City and connects Staten Island to Brooklyn!). The bridge is 2700 m long and has a span of about 1300 m. And when it was completed in 1937, it was definitely an over-achievement. So there we were! We biked across the vermilion orange Golden Gate Bridge. The views were brilliant, the breeze frisky. A few thought - why didn't we do this till now. A few thought - we should do this more often.

Another 4 miles and we reached Sausalito. Sausalito (literally 'small willow grove') is a beautiful quaint touristy town in Marina County with lots of souvenir shops and more restaurants than a town with 7,000 people deserves. We parked ourselves at one of the joints and soon there was Margherita Pizzas and Mimosas on our table. I don't remember now if we actually ordered Mimosas or we were carrying some bubbly and mixed it up with orange juice. Nevertheless, the food was a welcome break.

We were so content with the food, some of us even contemplated skipping Tiburon and taking a ferry back to the city from Sausalito. In the end, I was glad we decided to bike to Tiburon. In the next 8 miles, the landscape changed quite a bit. The roads got narrower and the fields on the side got wider. Further ahead, roads skirted the beautiful blue bay and people soaked up the californian summer sun. It was as lovely a day as it can get!

One brunch, one bridge, some great moments since morning and 16 miles later, we reached Tiburon. There was already a long queue of bikers and visitors waiting for the ferry. We meekly joined them at the end. The ferry, apparently last for the day, was due in an hour. We hung around, had bagels and some hot chocolate, and argued whose PJ was worse. The ferry arrived and the queue ahead of us started to move. We moved closer to the ferry. The queue moved further. A burly gentleman at the gate was keeping a count. Wait-a-minute!

Aren't there limited seats on the ferry? And isn't this the last ferry for the day from Tiburon to San Francisco? What if we don't make it on board before the burly gentleman throws up his hands and says, "Sorry, house full". Ouch.

And that is precisely what happened! Just at the mouth of the ferry, when we were right ahead of everyone else in the queue, he said, "Sorry, house full". The smiles from our faces quickly disappeared. After another hour of anticipation, guess work, plan B and prayers ... we were told an additional ferry will ply from Tiburon to San Francisco today. O sweet lord!

As our ferry cruised towards the city, a tired and burnt sun set in Pacific ocean in the west. Golden Gate Bridge flirted with the breeze and Alcatraz Island sat squatly in the sea. My geek friends on board solved the prisoner-hat puzzle and sea gulls chased our ferry. When we hit the shore, we were looking forward to some hot soup and Independence day fireworks later in the night. A wonderful day well spent.

Tags: North America

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