The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and lots and lots of walking up hills!
23.10.2012 - 30.10.2012 21 °C
The Greyhound bus journey from L.A. to San Francisco was about 8 ½ hours so it took most of the day. We got to San Francisco in the evening and stood outside at the taxi rank to get a taxi but for some reason there weren’t any to be seen! A few other people were waiting too and then one turned up but the driver very rudely told us that we had to phone to book one so we all went back inside and the lady on reception in the bus station called some taxi companies for us. 20 minutes later we were all still standing there and it was starting to get cold! We ended up giving up and walking a few blocks to try and flag one down instead, which luckily we managed to do. So after almost an hour after arriving in the city we managed to get to the Marina Motel where we were staying and checked in. Our room is more like a studio apartment because we also have a full kitchen which is great because it means we can save a lot of money by cooking all our own food for the week. It's also situated in a beautiful courtyard. We popped out to a supermarket and stocked up and then I cooked us up some pasta with bacon, vegetables, sauce and cheese – it felt nice to cook again!
We had a lie in the next day and we didn’t really do much, just chilled out and did some research on the things we wanted to see and do in San Francisco and also sorted out photos and went to a Laundromat to get our washing done. We also had a couple of skype sessions with people back home.
The next morning I spoke to my Mum and Dad on skype and then we headed out for the day. We are staying in the Marina district so it’s only a few blocks up to the shore where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and we walked along towards Fisherman’s Wharf where all the piers are. It was a bit of a gloomy morning and quite cold but by the time we got to the “crookedest” part of Lombard Street the sun had come out. To get there we had to walk up some 45% grade hills and I was not happy, it nearly killed me! The hills in San Francisco are just crazy, they’re so steep, you need legs of steel to walk around all the time! After seeing the famous part of the street we continued up (and I mean UP!) Lombard Street all the way to Coit Tower where we had to climb the steps of Telegraph Hill to get to it – I was about ready to collapse at this point I am so disgustingly unfit! The views from the tower were pretty good and the skies had certainly brightened up. When we came down I point blank refused to walk any more hills so we caught a bus back to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked back to the motel from there (it’s nice and flat near the shore!).
The next day we had a lie in again and didn’t really get going until about noon. We decided to head in the other direction to the Golden Gate Bridge to get some up close photos of it. It was a beautiful day and we sat by the beach for a little while on the way watching lots of people playing with their dogs! There seem to be a lot of runners and cyclists in this city and the strangest part is that it was the middle of the day on a week day and yet really busy with people exercising and dog walking, shouldn’t they be at work or something?! Anyway we made it to the bridge but the next part was more difficult – we wanted to get a bus to the Golden Gate Park and it looked simple on the map we had but we couldn’t find this bloody bus stop anywhere and wandered around aimlessly for about half an hour before finally finding it (we had to go up a hill urgh!). When we got off the bus we went through a rose garden towards the park but again it was a little confusing as to which way to go, the place is huge! We ended up in a pretty area with lots of benches and a fountain and then looked at a map and decided to head towards the Japanese Tea Garden. We found it but to our disappointment realised that you have to pay a $7 entry fee each to get in! It seemed quite a rip off so we took a few sneaky photos in the entrance and turned around to head for the Botanical Gardens instead. Now you’d think they’d be free but oh no apparently that costs $7 each to see too! We were not impressed by this so called park that cost lots of money to see any greenery whatsoever so we got on the bus and went back to the motel!
The next couple of days were incredibly lazy and relaxed and the only time we really went out was to go and see the house that was used in Mrs Doubtfire! It was only several blocks away from where we were staying but is situated in Pacific Heights so yes you guessed it, it was all uphill!
On Monday we walked to Pier 33 just past Fisherman’s Wharf to catch the Ferry to Alcatraz Island and see the famous cellblock that held the worst of all the prisoners in America! There was a sign inside that said “If you break the rules you go to prison. If you break the prison rules then you go to Alcatraz”. We took the walking tour on the way up to the cellblock and learned some interesting facts about the island that we didn’t know such as: years after the prison closed American Indians occupied the island as part of a protest against the way their people were treated and they built a whole community there and lived there for 19 months before the government kicked them off but in exchange gave them a public apology for the way they had been treated and gave them back lots of land for their reservations. Inside the prison cellblock it was an audio tour which was really interesting as it was narrated by former officers and inmates of Alcatraz. It was quite a creepy and eerie place and it was horrible trying to imagine what it must have been like being there in those times. After spending a couple of hours there we headed back down to the docks to catch the ferry back and then walked all the way back to the motel.
We’ve spent a week in San Francisco but the reason this is called Part 1 is because we aren’t finished with this city yet! Basically our flight to New Zealand isn’t until 10th November so we have quite a bit of time to kill. We discussed lots of options; originally we were going to hire a car and drive the coastal road from San Francisco back down to L.A. but originally we thought that was going to be the only chance we’d get of having some sort of American road trip – but plans changed and we hired a car in Texas, Las Vegas, and L.A. and drove part of Route 66 so we felt we had already fulfilled the road trip side of things and we knew it would be crazy expensive to do the coastal road so we decided to leave that out. We also thought about maybe going to another city that we hadn’t planned on such as San Diego but again it’s the expense of getting there and back to L.A. and we weren’t all that interested in seeing that city so what’s the point? In the end we decided that we would chill out and take our time in San Francisco for a week and then go to Yosemite National Park for a few days before coming back to San Francisco for another 4 or 5 days. We’ve decided that we’ll stay in a hostel downtown and explore that area of the city that we haven’t seen yet and that will be San Francisco Part 2!
So the next stop is Yosemite National Park!