Just over two hours flight down the coast and the climate is totally different. For the humid obsessed amongst us (n=1), it is actually more pleasant than the dryness of Vancouver; the skies are clear and it is a very pleasant 16-18C (packing exam failed with too many jumpers and no sun cream). And not a rain drop in sight. HEAVEN.
Home of the Golden Gate Bridge and the huge bay, cable cars (brilliant invention on the steepest of hills - the cables are changed every 2-3 months as they wear out), Alcatraz (vastly inferior to Robben Island), the second largest Chinatown town in the States after NYC with amazing dim sum to name but a few attractions and of course the HIV epidemic where in the 1980s a third of the gay male population were infected.
It is a really lovely city; cities and water go together like gin and tonic. It feels a little edgy with an interesting melting pot of cultures, people and (importantly) cuisine. Not too much of America to sour the taste. Good discovery of a happy hour in this recession ridden country (with a headline the other day announcing unemployment at a new record high of over 10%) was 1$ oysters!
Anything goes here. It really is a uniquely distorted place.