It took us forever to get into San Francisco. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was warm, and sunny, and then we looked in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Whe we knew it should be there was dense fog. I’ve heard all about this phenomena, but when I came last time, I just remember being able to see it. This time there was no such luck, so we walked the long walk, via McDonalds and a wrong turn to Union Square, to our hotel and dumped our bags.
Unlike in Vegas, we didn’t over commit to doing much on the first evening. We stayed in and watched Hart of Dixie whilst planning potential routes to Florida. Balancing transport options and hotel costs isn’t the easiest thing I have ever done. We’re getting there though.
Our first full day in San Francisco really was a tourist bonanza. We walked from our hotel down to Lombard to see the crooked street, and after climbing the impossible steep roads, took pictures in front of it. Then we walked down to the wharf to Ghiradelli square – they weren’t giving out free samples :(b It wa sa bit of a walk from ghiradellia Square to pier 33, the launch platform for Alcatraz, so we wandered past Fisherman’s wharf, pier 39, and Boudins (where they were making bread teddy bears and crocodiles) to collect our tickets and ait for our cruise.
Alcatraz was about the only thing I didn’t get to do last time, so I was really excited to go. The audio tour was pretty cool, with the noises imitating prison life in the background, and input from both guards and prisoners from the island. It provided a unique insight into the prison, and it was really interesting, but I’m not sure I preferred it to the tour of Fremantle Prison that we did with Dale and Manny. There were so many people in Alcatraz that I don’t think I could fully appreciate everything we saw, and the absence of a tour guide meant that we couldn’t ask the quesitons that we were able to ask while we were at Freo prison. That said, it was still a really cool thing to have done.
The strangest thing to me about Alcatraz came in the shop. There were numerous autobiographies from former inmates, but one was in the shop signing his book. In theory, I have no issue with it, and had it been cheaper to buy I probably would have got a copy, but having read the foreward, the guy didn’t sound remorseful at all. Having ‘retired as the worl’d best counterfeit cash checker’, I thought it was perhaps sending the wrong message, but it was still interesting. There are still signs of the Indian occupation post prison exposure too.
I was dead set on having chowder in a bread bowl from Boudins in Macy’s, so we set off for Union Square. The whole thing was as good as I remembered it being, and I got a deal where they gave me half a sandwich too, so had food sorted for the next day. Jade bought a pizza that is as close to her favourite pizza that was discontinued a while back as she has found anywhere; it’s a shame it’s made so far away from home. That night, we finally committed to our Amtrak journey, all 53hours on the California Zephyr to Chicago, and sorted our all bus journeys from Chicago to New Orleans.
When we woke up the following morning we sorted another night’s accommodation, and discovered that the 61st annual North Beach festival was going on right outside out hotel door. It meant we changed our plans to go and see the bridge and opted to go round the festival obtaining as much free food and free samples as possible, and exploring what the festival had to offer. It was a pretty cool thing to go to, and we found out that it was on both weekend days, which meant more free food. After, we went to see the Trans America Pyramid, and then went back to Boudin. The sandwich would be useful for the train, and the food is that filling that it was a good choice.
The next morning,m we got up early and managed to get breakfast from the festival stalls. We had a look round to get more goodies, before going to get the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. For the first time since we arrived in San Francisco we could actually see the bridge; the whole bridge. We walked pout a little way, and took pictures from the viewpoint. It was nice to know I hadn’t imagine dit last time, and was the best time we could have gone.
We got the bus back to Fort Mason, and did a decent shop in a supermarket in preparation of the train journey.The bags were heavy to carry to pier 41 and then home, but we had all the postcards we needed, I had the card I needed to send, and we were ready(ish) to leave for Chicago the next morning. We bought macaroni cheese in disposable pots to make use of the microwave in the room, and then washed them to use for our remaining porridge the next morning. We finally finished Hart of Dixie, which had a very annoying musical ending, and sort of packed to survive for 53 hours on a train.
I think San Francisco had gone straight to number 1 of cities we have visited in America so far. I wonder where else will impress as much?!