I love seeing tourists around SF. I'm not being sarcastic- I personally love to travel and appreciate natives who are polite and helpful.
In the past few weeks, I've noticed an abundance of European tourists around the Civic Center Bart Station/ Market&8th. I've also seen tour buses crowding the corner, picking loads and loads of passengers up from that hotel (Ramada I think?) on Market, between 8th and 9th.
The first thing that comes to mind when I see these tourists...why are they staying at this hotel? In this depressed area? I constantly see the tourists' faces when they walk into the many pee puddles around the block or when they get a big whiff of the after-scent of the many homeless folks inhabiting in the area. I see the parents grasping onto their kids whenever a homeless person approaches them. I hear them complaining that there are no places to get breakfast around there except the lone Starbucks. Occasionally, one of them will ask one of us waiting for the company shuttle whether there is anything to see in the area within 30 minutes, before their organized tour begins. Sadly, we have to say "not really, not within this immediate vicinity."
That area is really not the best representation of this beautiful city. Granted, all those city buildings and concert halls on Van Ness are just 4 or 5 blocks away and are absolutely gorgeous, but Market/8th is really not the most tourist-friendly area. Why didn't they stay near Fisherman's Wharf? Union Square? Nob Hill? or even the Financial District where they could take the cable car around easily? Why the Civic Center BART Station?
So why ARE they staying there??!! My guess is they probably didn't do extensive research online and was lured by the hotel rate. Or perhaps they had no choice because the organized tour they arrived with has a deal with this particular Ramada.
I wonder what they must think of the city if what they see around them in between the tours, is this depressed, dirty and sometimes threatening scenery. But then again, after seeing the wharf, bridges and other sites in the Bay Area, I think they will become forgiving of their immediate surroundings.