Foggy Frisco

Guidebooks are designed to be helpful and, while I’ve not made massive use of my Dorling Kindersley Guide to San Francisco (other guidebooks available), owing to other adventures, it has given me one very valuable piece of advice: “Never refer to San Francisco as ‘San Fran’ or ‘Frisco’. To locals it is ‘The City’ and anything else is offensive.”

Eddie Izzard helpfully explains this cultural nicety in this video, during which he also reflects upon another San Franciscan phenomenon: fog.

We were moved to watch this clip on Sunday night while driving back to our ocean view base. Almost as soon as the words “We could drink a glass of wine while watching the sunset over the ocean” had been uttered, fingers of fog began to creep over the hills adjacent to the freeway. Actually, they didn’t creep – to quote Eddie Izzard, the fog really ‘shifted it’. Within minutes visibility was minimal – there was absolutely no possibility of watching the sunset.

The fog in the San Francisco area is unlike anything I’ve ever known before. On my very first night, my view of the city en route from the airport was obscured by fog – on Monday, the iconic Golden Gate bridge was barely visible through the clouds. Goodness only knows how the Americas Cup yachtsmen manage to sail in it. Oh, and the weirdest thing is fog during daylight hours when it can be hot too. Hot in fog? That’s virtually unheard of in British meteorological conditions!

Over the weekend, we spent four nights staying in a friend’s holiday home in Pacifica – a town on the coast that adjoins the Pacific. (Could you have guessed that?) Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed (most of the most beautiful are connected in that they involve the Pacific), and the view out of the bedroom window was simply incredible.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to the sight of the ocean, with what seemed to be black seals frolicking amongst the waves. On closer inspection, I realised they were surfers…

Saturday morning surfers, Pacifica

But on Monday morning, the view was a little different:

Pacifica fog

Somewhere in amidst the fog is the beach (and probably more surfers). It was seriously bizarre because the temperature was just as high as it was on Saturday when I’d even braved the ocean for a swim! Obviously, because we are British (or because 2 out of the 3 of us are British and the 3rd has lived there for nearly a decade) we have developed an obsession with the fog, and can give you a rundown of what the temperature has been on each of the days we’ve been here (in both Celsius and Fahrenheit). But it’s ok, because we fit in with the locals – like the British, they are also obsessed with the weather, because it can change so dramatically between different parts of the region. Today, for example, it’s a full 10C difference between Concord (where we’re currently based) and ‘the city’. In the Bay Area, everyone instructs you to take a cardigan with you…

But don’t go thinking that it’s a negative thing – the fog of San Francisco is in many ways a positive. What else would give the city its mysterious quality? Who wouldn’t want to cross the bay and watch wisps of fog rush in? And quite frankly, Just Like Heaven wouldn’t have been half the film it was without it…

Golden Gate disappearing into fogGolden Gate Bridge beginning to disappear into the clouds. 

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