San Francisco, CA
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
31Trip End Apr 06, 2013
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Check in was really easy and our first impressions of the hostel were pretty good, its a very unique hostel. Parking is really difficult in SF but the hostel helped us park a short distance away at a private car park and we came back to the hostel $20 lighter! We were shown around the hostel and by the time we got downstairs dinner was being prepared so we got stuck into helping prepare tea (well AK did, best to keep SJ out of the kitchen)
On the Tuesday we headed to Mission Street to browse the thrift shops. SJ got some great bargains and spent about $20 in total and came away with loads of stuff. AK was not too impressed being dragged around the shops but he suffered it fairly well. This part of town seems to be a bit poorer as there were a lot of homeless people. We got talking to a nice guy in Walgreens who advised us where to go for the best thrift shops. He had a fab Afro and was dressed really smart, in his own unique way. He had a flared pair of smart checked trousers, a shirt and jacket which was definitely vintage and maybe from the 70s. He topped it all of with a little cap and looked very cool. We think he does most of his shopping in the thrift stores and looks damn good on it.
In the evening we went for Indian food for $5 with a big group from the hostel
On Wednesday we took a bus to Haight/Ashbury street to check out the hippy shops and vintage shops. It was pretty cool and SJ was gutted she couldn't go mad in the vintage shops, they are so much better than the shops back home. We walked right down Haight St. past the Amoeba music shop to Golden Gate park. There are some characters that hang around the park, guys with massive dreadlocks and the longest flared jeans. We were not sure if they were homeless or just spent their time hanging out at the park. We got offered 'stuff', 'herb', 'weed' or basically anything you want from the class A menu! They were smoking hashish pipes in broad day light on the park. It was interesting and AK got a little bit excited. Obviously we didn't stop to sample the goods.
We had free food for tea again and AK went on a pub crawl with a load of people from the hostel. SJ enjoyed some 'me' time and chilled and did some laundry, typical SJ.
We booked tickets for Alcatraz for Thursday afternoon
We went across the bay on a packed boat and as we were approaching the island we seen a dolphin just in front of the boat. This made SJ very happy. As you approach the island you get a sense of the isolation and hopelessness the prisoners must have felt as it is quite far from the shore and really is just a big rock! Hence the nick name 'The Rock'.
The island has been many things in the past, a lighthouse, a fort to protect the city of San Francisco and a military prison but it is it's time as a federal prison that people think about when you mention Alcatraz. We explored a bit of the island and then took the audio tour around the prison. It's smaller than you imagine, both the corridors and the cells but the level of care was surprisingly good. They had good meals and reading material, exercise time etc. they also had access to health care if required. It doesn't sound much but this was a prison for hard core criminals of their day!
In the evening we took part in hermit crab racing at the hostel....yes hermit crab racing
SJ's team crab won the first race and lost every other one! AK's crab did pretty much the same. It was good fun though and SJ is considering getting pet hermit crabs when she gets home. After the race we sat around drinking beer and then AK and SJ went upstairs to sleep as Friday was a big day....preparing for the green tortoise Canyons of the west tour.
We got up nice and early on Friday and went into town to buy SJ a day back pack and to get some bits and bobs for the tour. We had the whole afternoon to get ready, chill and get some of the blog done....it wasn't to be! AK and SJ got talking to a really nice man who was about 70 (ish) and although we couldn't get a word in edge ways he was really sweet and had lots of interesting things to say. Before we knew it, it was tea time so we decided to help out with tea again. We thought we would just have time to eat some but unfortunately we had to leave to catch the bus so we missed tea.
We got to the bus stop where a big green bus awaited and after introductions to the drivers and filling in some forms (and a quick dash over the road for some tea!) we were on the bus and getting settled for our first night of our trip on the hippy bus!