31st July - 4th August 2009
It was a real shock for us arriving in San Francisco. It seemed so cold after Asia even though it was summer and everything of course seemed so big. We arrived late at the hotel that Nikki's Aunt Jane organized for us but unfortunately she couldn't be there to join us.
After a good night's sleep we went for a walk and were grateful for a nice clear footpath to walk down after Vietnam. There weren't even hawkers constantly hassling us, but they were replaced with the homeless asking for change. We wandered the streets for a while looking for a jumper each as we were lacking warm clothes after Asia so Nikki wore her sarong as a blanket whilst in search for something warmer. We struggled as it was hard to find anything that didn't have 'San Francisco' blazoned across it. We weren't interested in the usual tourist garb as we were soon to head to Central and Sth America and didn't want to increase our 'stand-out' factor. We didn't find anything suitable before our tour to Alcatrez so we spent a lot of the time there freezing our butts off. Fortunately Sammy found a really nice inconspicuous jacket at the Alcatrez souvenir shop so he was sorted. Alcatrez was a great tour and luckily we were switched on enough to buy our tickets in advance as there was a one week waiting period when we got there.
We caught the ferry across and after watching a short film on the history of Alcatrez we joined a tour that discussed Al Capone and how Alcatraz broke his cheeky smile. It was quite interesting. Next we collected our audio tours and went through the prison. It was really great and we learnt a lot about how the prison was run and the events, including attempted escapes that happened whilst the prison was running. It was so cold and windy though.
The next day we took a long walk around the city and to the famed Lombard Street - the crookedest street in the world which was pretty cool to see. After finding a suitable jacket for Nikki (thanks to the advice from Aunt Jane to head to Old Navy) we were lucky enough to stumble across a 4 million dollar open house. It was really beautiful and well designed. There was another open house a couple of doors down and we went into that one too. It was a lot cheaper (600k) and had a great roof terrace with amazing views of the city. If we lived in San Fran we think this is where we would live. We had a great chat with the realtor about property and other things while we were there so it was such a nice thing to come across. We were originally on our way to the Coit Tower which is meant to have great views however after taking a look at the lines to get up the tower we considered ourselves lucky for what we'd seen and didn't bother going up. On the way back to our hotel we stopped at a diner and had a couple of beers without asking the price. We were shocked when the bill came to over 20US for two beers. That would have got us 20 beers in Asia!
On our last day in San Francisco we hired some mountain bikes and decided to head across the Golden Gate Bridge and to the Muir Woods which would be a 54km round trip. We didn't realize it would be so hilly but we managed it very well and were so pleased with our efforts. Sammy had to push me up a couple of the hills but I think I did all right considering my lack of biking experience. We had a lovely lunch at a nice cottage and checked out the local beach. When we made it to the Muir Woods we didn't have a whole lot of time but were able to take a look at the trees before riding off up another hill. Some of the trees are 260ft high and more than 1000 years old.
We were really hoping a big truck would come by and offer us a lift but it never happened. So glad we did it as it's such an achievement. We had a quick dinner at Pier 39 which is a great place to people watch and then headed off to the airport to catch our late flight to Guatemala. We could have easily done with a couple more days in San Fran as it has so much to offer but we managed to fit a whole lot into the few days we were there which is something to be proud of. It was so great having a stay in a decent hotel too so many thanks Aunt Jane from both of us, we're really looking forward to seeing you at the end of the trip in Vegas and LA. Wahoo!