So, I am a little (LOT) behind on my blogging. Well, online anyway. I have been keeping a personal journal so I can fill in the blanks after my trip and write a more in depth account of what we've been getting up to out here.
But for now, I wanted to fill in some of the blanks for August, as this was a pretty exciting month for us. We were offered a job in Canmore for Bellstar hotels/resorts, which we were excited about as we were starting to dislike our job in Jasper for several reasons. I will explain these in another blog. But we were also pleased because the pay was far more appealing and the accommodation on offer was in fact a condo that they normally rent out to guests, so we knew it had to be decent. Feeling happy with the idea of working in a new location, we handed in our notice at our Jasper job, with our last working day being 27th August.
With a new part of our adventure to look forward to, we also had more exiciting plans in store. San Francisco! On 20th August, we left work early to drive to Calgary. The drive was very beautiful, particularly around Banff and Lake Louise, and we stopped in Canmore for some dinner, to get a taste of what we had to look forward to. The road entering Calgary went on for miles, surrounded by sloping farmland and fields, which looked salient against the pink skies and the sun setting ahead of us. I don't think I'll ever get used to how far the roads stretch ahead of you. A girl we worked with had a funny way of describing the journey to Calgary. She said that 'you could be chasing your dog for days with it still in sight'. After 7 hours of driving, we eventually arrived at our hotel, where we looked forward to resting.
We had an early start on 21st. We checked out early and made our way to the airport shuttle car park. It was a short, 5 minute bus journey to the airport. We checked in our baggage and ourselves, then headed to departures where we had a longer wait than anticipated. Eventually, we were called to our gate and boarded the plane for San Francisco!
At 2pm, we landed, collected our luggage and hailed a taxi, which took about 15 minutes. The journey to the hotel was so interesting, my eyes couldn't keep up with the surroundings. I was mesmerized by the gradients of the streets; watching the traffic racing around at great speeds, dodging in and out of eachother to get through the traffic lights before they changed again.
When we arrived at the Huntington Hotel, we were greeted by a doorman, looking very smart in his black uniform and cap, with gold trim. Upon checking in, the receptionist gave us a free upgrade to a 'room with a view' as it was Jacob's birthday. We were happy to accept and made our way to floor 7, in the vintage elevator.
The suite was magnificent. It had a spacious living area, with a small kitchen, hallway and a reasonably sized bathroom and bedroom. After dropping off our luggage, we were itching to explore, with our first stop being Union Square. The streets were steep and we watched the street cars whizz by, ringing the bell to warn traffic of its presence. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the bottom of the very steep, Nob Hill.
We were welcomed with the smell of hot dogs from a street stand, and couldn't resist grabbing one to try. As we were waiting in line, we were pestered by a black homeless man who was clearly irritated by the fact that we didn't want to give him any change, and demonstrated so by pretending to shoot us with a rolled up newspaper. Ignoring his unpleasant gestures, we proceeded to make our order, then nestled to the edge of the sidewalk to enjoy our 'snack'. After our tummies were filled, we continued to explore the city, dodging the heavy flow of pedestrians along the way. We spent several hours exploring, then retreated back to the hotel, where we found a bottle of champagne on ice awaiting us! A very nice surprise for Jacob.
After freshening up, we got a taxi to Bi-Rite Bakery on 18th Street, where we picked up the cake I ordered for Jacob. It was midnight chocolate cake, with mint chocolate chip icecream. Delicious! I chose it because the bakery was ranked number 6 of 4000+ places to eat in the city, so I knew it had to be good.
The next day, we got up early for Jacob's birthday and were picked up at 9:30am for our city tour. The first stop was Golden Gate bridge. We drove over it and stopped the other side, where we had the chance to walk across the bridge and take some photos of the beautiful bay views. Our coach driver told us that the navy wanted the bridge to be painted yellow and black, and apparently McDonalds wanted it to be painted as the 'golden arches'. He also pointed out the tunnels in the distance that were named the 'rainbow tunnels' because in the 1900's, the hippies used to paint rainbows above them - so the name has stuck ever since.
Next, we drove to the two peaks, where we were faced with an amazing view overlooking the city skyline. We were very lucky as the weather was perfect. On the drive down from the peaks, we spotted a red tail hawk hovering and learnt that the house prices in the city are extremely expensive, and that the majority of people in San Fran are single. The next attraction to see was the 'Painted Ladies'. These Victorian houses are so beautifully designed. We were lucky to drive by them, as in the up and coming months, tour buses will be banned from passing them due to complaints.
Another stop was at Lands End, home to the salt baths, and an incredible view over the Pacific ocean; made more enjoyable with a delicious goats cheese and caramlised onion wrap. After our lunch stop, we drove by Lombard Street; the windiest street in the city, then went onto Fishermans Wharf. We made our way to Pier 39 where we queued for our boat to take a bay cruise. The boat ride was a great opportunity to see the cityscape from a different angle. Venturing out, we passed sealions basking in the sun, looking as though they were loving life. The tour took us under Golden Gate bridge, and with the sun rays beaming in the sky, it looked a lovely silhouette. Returning inland, we passed Acatraz. The prison looked very eerie and it was fascinating to see the isolated buildings, still holding their cold and mysterious character, making it so easy to imagine it as it may have been when it was home to hundreds of prisoners.
After arriving back at the pier, we took a stroll around the Wharf and Jacob chose to eat at the Rainforest Cafe. It was a fun experience eating in the middle of a jungle (without getting eaten ourselves), with the animals coming to life every 10 minutes and the sounds of tropical storms around us. After feeling incredibly full and barely being able to finish our meals, we returned to the hotel to freshen up for a Giants baseball game. The game was pretty interesting and the atmosphere was lively, but not as good as ice hockey (in my opinion). It was nice to see San Fran lit up on the drive home, and certainly an enjoyable jam-packed final day of our trip to the very cultured city of San Francisco.