Clang clang clang goes the trolley
Trip Start Sep 18, 2011
25Trip End Oct 31, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Within 10 minutes our hop on / off bus arrived and we headed through Chinatown and Little Italy to Fisherman's Wharf beginning at Pier 33. The whole area was very busy with tourists looking at all kinds of activities including the sea lions at Pier 39 and ferry trips out to Alcatraz Island. We are looking forward to a trip to Alcatraz tomorrow.
We diverted from our walk along the bay to find Lombard St. Lombard St is the crookedest street in the world with 8 hairpin turns. The walk up hill was quite gruelling particularly with the increasing sunshine beating down on us.
Following our diversion to Lombard St we found our way back towards the bay and headed towards the marina. Our mission, or should I say Don's mission was to find Star Trek headquarters and to find some locations featured in the movie “The Voyage Home”, he tells me it is the one with the whales.
There were a lot of people out and about enjoying the sunshine and watching all of the people pass by added to the enjoyment of the walk. We stopped off at Safeway to buy a sandwich for lunch before resuming our walk along the bayside.
Don was constantly referencing his phone to find the movie location he wanted. Eventually he found it and was very excited to be able to get a photo in just about the same position as the movie.
Onward we trekked closer to the Golden Gate Bridge, and found a few more scenic lookouts featured in the Star Trek movie and we were able to get some more shots in almost the same positions much to Don's pleasure.
Eventually we reached the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and hiked up a trail to try and find our bus stop. By this stage I was feeling pretty worn out as I'm sure we would have walked at least 10km including some very steep climbs. Google Maps won't let me accurately calculate the exact distance, but it gives us a pretty good indication.
The bus eventually came and we were lucky to be able to get on board as it was so full. The bus took us past the "painted ladies" which is a set of Victorian style houses that have been featured in many movies and TV shows including Full House (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), and the Color Purple.
Once the bus made it back to Union Square we did some night shopping at Bloomingdale's - "the nanny" Fran Fine's shopping destination of choice when in New York .
The shops were closing and we were getting tired and hungry, so we made our way to a dinner for a quick bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. We are both a bit sunburnt today since we weren’t really expecting it to be so warm and sunny today. I suppose we'll need to be more prepared for the sunshine expected tomorrow.
Up at a reasonable time we got ready to head out into another beautiful day of sunshine. This time we made sure we put plenty of sunscreen on before heading to our bus at Union Square. The bus came after about 15 minutes and everybody boarded and our tour quickly commenced. The bus driver gave a very entertaining commentary and we would have like to have stayed on the bus longer but we had to get of at Pier 33 to get exchange our voucher for real tickets to Alcatraz. The ticket for our sunset cruise was at pier 43.5 do we strolled down there to exchange that voucher as well for later this evening. We wandered back to Pier 33 and stopped off at Pier 39 for some lunch. Don followed his lunch with what he says was a delicious chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Personally I think the taste is just too overwhelming and is just like drinking liquid peanut butter. I like peanut butter on toast but I don't think I’m quite yet ready to consume my meals in liquid form.
Our ferry to Alcatraz was boarding soon so we joined the queue and we were soon crowing across to Alcatraz which was just over 10 minutes away, a distance of about 1600 meters.
Once we arrived on Alcatraz were given a quick orientation by the ranger before picking up our audio guides and doing a self guide tour of the cell block. Alcatraz was originally built as a fortress during the gold rush in the late 1830s to protect San Francisco bay. It was not until 1934 that Alcatraz was turned into a Federal prison that became the most notorious maximum security prison in the country and housed some of the most dangerous and volatile prisoners.
The audio tour was very good as it walked us through the main cell area pointing out all of the various types of cells. This included the solitary confinement cells in D block known as the hole. Prisoners were put in these tiny cells with no light for up to 24 hours a day for a maximum of two weeks. To keep themselves occupied some if the prisoners would pull a button off their clothing and throw it somewhere in the darkened cell then hunt around on their hands and knees looking for it as a kind of game. The cell was very small and the conditions were terrible.
We also got to see where the prisoners could speak to visitors through glass windows near the administration offices. The prisoners were always quite overwhelmed to be face to face with a family member since they were living in such harsh surroundings.
The audio guide also showed us the cells where the 3 prisoners escaped from in 1962. The air vents that they each dug through were so small and they did it with spoons and metal ladels. The authorities estimate it would have taken them more than a year to dig through to the device tunnel behind each cell. From the service tunnel they climbed to the roof and then down to a landing. After that the story is unclear if the escapees managed to survive the trip to the mainland on a raft made of rain coats or not.
Once we returned to the mainland from Alcatraz we wandered the tourist area at Pier 39 through to Fisherman's wharf window shopping and having a light snack before heading to our sunset cruise.
The sun seemed low in the sky by the time we boarded the boat and set sail. The cruise took us back towards Alcatraz and Angel Island. The sun was setting quickly behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the sky was a paint pallet of beautiful colours. The San Franciscan skyline was starting to twinkle with all the lights and it was just a lovely night for a cruise. They served us a few sandwiches which staved off hunger until we made it back to shore. There was also an entertainer on board that looked like a cowboy including hat and rattleskin snake boots. He sang and played guitar to an enthusiastic audience.
Upon disembarking we headed towards the trolley for our ride back into the city. It was an exciting ride. When the trolley arrived we jumped on the front and hung on for our ride back towards Union Square. San Francisco is very hilly and we seemed to fly up the hills and the stop man pulled hard on the break as we shoot down the other side. I giggled and squealed a little bit and had white knuckles from hanging in so tightly. I tried to take video, bit I don't know how successful it will be.
Conveniently the trolley stop is just at the end of our street so we only had a short walk home to our hotel. Once we were back in the hotel we relaxed before starting to think about packing our bags for our final destination tomorrow.
A previous hotel guest was kind enough to have left an alarm set at 6.30 am and we could hear it through the wall. It drove Don crazy to the point that he called reception and someone came and switched the alarm off. By this stage what was supposed to be a little sleep in for us was over.
After showering and finalizing our packing we left our bags at reception and headed to the Union Square shopping area for some retail therapy. Our first stop Macy's followed by Ross for less. If you are planning a trip to the USA you need to check out Ross for less - Joe and Cheryl put us onto this store last year when we were in Las Vegas and there are heaps of discounted brand name gear.
We continued to wander the shops, but it was getting a bit tiring particularly since we knew we did not have too much room in our cases so we had to restrain ourselves.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at a luggage store and I got a backpack with wheels. I know it's a bit late in the trip to be getting it, but we have been looking at them since Venice and this one has a laptop slot which should be handy back home.
At the hotel I packed my new backpack and put the other one away in our luggage.
Our airport shuttle picked us up right on time and we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We checked in at the curb and my case weighed 49.9 pounds. The limit is 50 pounds which is around 23 kgs.
Once inside the airport we went through security and grabbed something to eat before boarding the plane. We flew United and you have to pay for the food service on the plane, so we were glad we ate before hand.
The flight was fairly uneventful and we landed on time. We were greeted by a lady with our name in a board (Lewis plus 1) and she gave us s beautiful Hawaiian Lei of purple orchids. It was quite exciting and there were only a few other people around that got the full service. We were quickly whisked to our hotel and pretty much went straight to bed since the time difference if 2 hours meant ghat it was already after 2am to us.