Today we left the beautiful Yosemite National Park behind and headed for San Francisco. The last destination on our Contiki Tour. Took us about 5 hrs to hit the city, where we headed down to the Pier Precinct for Lunch. My group ate at this really cool Sourdough bakery restaurant. Big beautiful restaurant inside the factory that freshly bakes a variety of breads and sourdough.
Following lunch it was back to the bus for a city tour. Within minutes I totally fell in love with San Francisco. Much like I did in San Diego. The pier precinct was great, markets, café, restaurants and of course the harbour with the infamous Alcatraz just offshore. But that is just the beginning of San Francisco. Those huge steep hills you see on the movies, are 100% real. They are massive and go for miles. Many of them having the famous cable cars running up the centre of them. All the buildings and houses throughout San Francisco have so much character. Old Victorian seemed to be the common theme. Just townhouses jammed in next to each other. But so big and tall and each with its own individual flair. Beautiful to see.
Within all this there is all these amazing little pockets creating their own style. Little Italy, Chinatown, an Alternative/Hippy/Urban culture block and of course the proud gay community in San Francisco.
We then left the city towards the bay to cross the Famous Golden Gate Bridge. Super impressive site. Leaves the Sydney Harbour bridge for dead!
As we neared the end of our tour we headed for our hotel in the heart of the city passing by Union Square. Which again just breathtaking architecture, a real beauty.
Then, like a baseball bat to the face our contiki tour was over. We pulled up out front of the hotel at 330pm and told we were free to go our separate ways. This had to be the 1 instance where I seriously questioned the contiki organization and planning. Because there was no real ending or goodbye. Some people were staying at the contiki hotel overnight, some people were staying at other hotels in the city, some people flew out that night, some the next morning and some stayed on in the city for extra days. So it was messy and disjointed and no real memorable goodbye. We all agreed it would have been much better to continue touring the city in detail for the whole afternoon, then check everyone into the same hotel. Go out that night for a final celebrations and farewell. Then the next morning people can go their own ways.
Either way, despite only seeing it through a bus window, San Francisco went to the top of my To Do list for places to return. So full of character and so much to see and do. Cant wait to get back there.
All in all I really enjoyed my Contiki Tour. I met some great people and had some crazy fun. In 10 days I was able to cover a hell of a lot of ground and see a wide variety of American landscapes and culture. All on a reasonable budget.
Contiki like every other whirl wind tour has its pros and cons. But accept it for what it is with the idea it is a taste test and you can always go back to places that you really fancied. On a budget like mine im definitely looking to do another 1 or 2 on my trip.