Los Angeles and San Fransisco
Trip Start May 06, 2009
3Trip End May 20, 2009
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A couple of connecting flights and we land in LA and the welcoming joy of Ali´s mum and dad (and for Ali in particular, another complete change of wardrobe!). Tears of happiness, exchanging of recent stories and a cab ride later we are in a fancy hotel on the foot of the Hollywood Hills. We only have a day or so here so decide the best way to see it all is a sightseeing bus - we make our way to Universal Studios and join a hop on/hop off bus to Hollywood boulevard and the sights and sounds of the city. We walk the walk of fame, we cruise Beverly Hills and quickly skip the shopping malls of the rich and famous opting instead for a bite to eat at a bustling farmers market. Posing for the obligatory Hollywood sign photo and mixing with the moviestar look-alikes we make our way to downtown LA. Try as we might we were not spotted by the next big picture director and our lives seem not to be destined for the fame and fortune of cinema, so the day job still beckons... Down town LA is a different storey altogether from the glitz and glam of Hollywood. It is an interesting place in its self, although Chris (Ali´s mum did manage to fall asleep on the open deck of the bus and had to be rescued before the bus drove off with her!
Leaving LA was easy, afterall it´s a city like any other, so we head for the train station and a 12 hour ride to San Fransisco. With a few stops long enough to get off and stretch our legs and catch some fresh air (even passing by the fires of Santa Barbra and seeing the odd impromptu entertainment from local elderly musicians) the trip is pleasant and over suprisingly quickly. We are dropped at the nearest station to SF, although that appears to be a half hour away from SF proper... with confusion as to what we were supposed to do or how we should make our way to SF a tour bus driver offers us a lift for a small tip - job done, we make it to our hotel late evening after, what turns out to be, the first of a number of city walks.
We are not sure what it was but all of us immediately liked SF - maybe it was the mix of architecture, or the jazz clubs, or the friendly atmosphere, or the laid back vibe to the place despite it still being a big busy city. What ever it was, we liked it. A late night complementary glass of wine and we decide to book a trip to Alcatraz (easier said than done as it happens, but all was well in the end). An earlyish start and a city wander (sampling some of the steeper slopes of the area) and a ferry takes us to Alcatraz. It is an interesting place filled with stories a mix of its uses despite its short history. The afternoon sees us to the Fishermans Wharf and a wander around the stalls and the peirs filled with sea lions. We take a tram back to the hotel and head out for a dinner in the city - first proper chance to wear our newly shipped clothes, beleive us when we say wearing jeans for the first time in 10 months really does make you feel dressed to the nines! So where else can you eat when in SF but a jazz bar?!
Our second day in SF is filled with a city wander - well as Lenny (Ali´s dad) will atest, he is the king of wanderers but his was no wander... 12 miles and 8 hours later we have walked the streets offereing mexican influence, elaborate wall murals, negociated numerous busy junctions (despite Chris´s insistance that we J-walk each and every one of them!), headed through a forest park or two, dropped by a $1.5million house for a nosey around, gazed at the Golden Gate bridge and meandered along the sea front back to the wharf. Satisfied and exhausted Ali convinces us all we should sample the sea food in the area as it is famous for it, and as she polishes of half a crab the size of her head we sit back and enjoy the evening disapear.
The next day is a relatively early start as this is the day we pick up our camper - nothing like our beloved ´Humpers´, this thing is a V8 monster of a camper sleeping 5/6 with all the mod cons and sporting the biggest promotional paintjob (we saw a recent Robin Williams film on one of our last bus trips, for those of you in the know, the phrase ´big green rolling turd´ immediately spang to mind! Although that seems unfair as after some of the places we have stayed, this was going to be sheer luxury!).