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Presenter : Justine Shapiro

San Francisco

Justine Shapiro rides into San Francisco on board the Greyhound bus, intent on spending a week discovering the liberal culture of the metropolis by the bay.

For her first night in the city, Justine treats herself to a rooftop penthouse cabin, where she awakes to panoramic views of the cityscape. Cable cars prove to be a novel yet practical way to get about town, and she hangs on all the way to Chinatown where she meets the locals and learns the lingo in Portsmouth Square.
Justine in San Francisco

In the 1920s the Italian quarter was the hangout of the beat poets and Justine encounters one of their number, Laurence Ferlinghetti, browsing the shelves in the bookstore he now runs. That evening she hears a young local poet giving a live reading at Vesuvio, a bar that was frequented by the original beat generation.

The next day Justine takes a trip across the water to the infamous Alcatraz, America’s most secure prison until 1963. She hears about the harsh realities of prison life from former inmate Leon ‘Whitey’ Thompson. Back in town, Justine exercises her liberty by joining the Space Walk,an underground art event staging guerrilla style art attacks all around the city. She calls it a night, however, when local police prove that San Francisco no longer lives up to its liberal reputation and break up the gathering.

A ride on the Green Tortoise Bus, which offers travellers a comfortable communal ride across the continent, takes Justine on a day trip north of the city limits, to Muir Woods. The woods Golden Gate Bridgeare home to the tallest living things on earth: 1000 years old and 230 feet tall, the Giant Redwoods are an awe inspiring sight and a National Monument.
Justine joins the ‘Cruising the Castor’ tour around the gay neighbourhood of Castro, which includes a poignant visit to the Names Project, a memorial to the victims of the AIDS epidemic which devastated the community in the 1980s. Haight Ashbury was the centre of the flower-power movement in the 1960s. Justine is fortunate to find lodgings at the Red Victorian, a hotel run by a genuine ageing hippie and Justine makes herself at home in the Flower Child room.The following day, its ‘on yer bike’ for Justine, s she discovers the highs and lows of cycling in the city. As rush hour draws nigh, Justine finds herself in the midst of Critical Mass, the monthly cycling protest designed to block the city’s arteries and infuriate motorists.In the Mission quarter Justine witnesses the Day of the Dead, a festival in early November when Mexicans connect with their ancestors, remember the dead and parade the streets in ghoulish guise.On her final day in town, Justine heads for Pacifica, the beach for surfing beginners. The sun’s not shining and the water’s freezing, but in just one afternoon Justine masters the art of riding the waves.

Places Mentioned - USA

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