Adventures on the Hills............

Trip Start Mar 10, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Catherines House, City

Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

San Francisco 24th March 2010 Day 14

Bad flight, sat next to a weird man with an old leather jacket and a moustache. Arrived late, 10.30pm, Clare was waiting at the arrivals barriers which was nice to see a smiley face. She had been waiting 7hours so we jumped straight into a hotel shuttle ($17) for our first night at the North Beach hotel two blocks away from Chinatown. The hotel was ok, very smelly reception and over 30 rules to read but the room was clean and we were right next to the bathrooms. Definitely wouldn't want to be staying any longer, it seemed more like a long term stay hotel.

Thursday 25th March 2010 Day 15

Today was Alcatraz. We walked past the departure gate and saw that they had free spaces and just jumped in line. We had heard that it can get booked up quickly especially at weekends so we seized the opportunity. It was amazing, so much to learn with so much to see. We had an audio tour of the cells themselves where they tell you all the history behind the tales and how three men managed to escape one night. They talked about how the water from Alcatraz to San Fran city is too dangerous and an un-swimmable. One of Catherine’s friends though has told us they do an annual event like ironman where one of the challenges is to swim to shore, but first thing in the morning when the currents are not suppose to be as bad. The boat across to Alcatraz was choppy but we got some great views of San Fran. Went for happy hour drinks and meet Catherine. Ended up at one of her friends engagement party. We got ID’ed for buying a coke!! I was more than merry the first night, the coke was for Clare so I can’t really remember much of this night hehe!! Kept on asking Catherine the same questions apparently ah !! Stayed at Catherine’s and her finance Andrew’s apartment on Connecticut Street, about 20minutes drive from the centre. Her flat was huge with a spare room for me and Clare, made me feel all jealous and a wee bit sad knowing I no longer have a flat!! The flat was high up on the hills so there were some great views from her balcony.

Friday 26th March 2010 Day 16

Woke up to find scraps of paper giving us instructions on how to get into the city which I had scribbled last night. Neither me or Clare could work out what I had wrote but we winged it and ran after the first bus we saw, although it was going in the wrong direction the bus driver told us where to stand. There was no bus stop it was plastered on the if we can see that !!

Today was sightseeing day, we walked everywhere, and my calves were burning by the end of the day. We walked around Chinatown which turned out to be the area we had stayed in the first night. We called into the Cable car museum next which was surprising interesting. We learnt all the history and how the cable cars work by attaching themselves to the cables under the street with speeds of up to 9mph. We then hopped on a cable car to see them in action, we got seats thankfully as we didn’t fancy going around a corner hanging off the side on our first trip. Some people do just jumped on and hang there like the movies, scary. It took us to Fishermans wharf where we saw our cable car being placed on a turntable and manually pushed around. Fishermans wharf was lovely, like a seaside resort a lot classier than Blackpool though. Nik nak shops and souvenirs shops everywhere. There was only one amusement arcade which was an old-fashion style museum where they had games machines from years ago, like the scary fortune teller one in the film Big which gives you a little piece of card telling you your fortune and ones where figures move when you put your money in. We also had some black and white photo’s taken in the photo booth where you can change your pose everytime. This was fun !

Next was Pier 39 which was home to the Sea lions. There were hundreds of them just lying on the boardwalks in the harbour. Pier 39 was huge, two floors of entertainment areas, restaurants and a bundle of shops. On the way back on the hunt for food, we came across a crowd of bikers going through the city completing an event called Critical Mass. It was madness, every last Friday of the month all the bikers come out and parade the streets stopping traffic to show that they own the roads!!! It was funny, some naked old men yak, some hippies, some playing music with big drums whilst biking and some with getto blasters. .

Saturday 27th March 2010 Day 17

Catherine was working this weekend so some of her friends had offered to take us bike riding, Will and Jules. Andrew took us to the farmers market first then we went to hire our bikes from blazing saddles, $30 for the day. We started at Pier 39 and went across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito seeing the palace of fine arts on the way and an old army barracks called Parisdo. The day was gorgeous and so hot. We were lucky as apparently they rarely get such good days without fog. It took about 4.5 hours to get across to Sausalito which was a small seaside resort again with some amazing beach front houses. We took the ferry back which was amazing as there must have been 300 people all getting onto ferry with their bikes. A popular choice.

We went to Sally’s after dark for a three course special dinner ($24), it was soooooooo nice!! I have to write about this place so when I go back I can visit again. I had polenta which is a new food for me after Jo Jo making it for me a few weeks before I left and now I love it!!!.

I love San Francisco I really do. It is so easy to get around, public transport is so good. The weather is nice, not too cold, not too warm, although we did have a few hot days. The city is not too busy and everyone is so friendly so far. I could definitely live here.

Sunday 28th March 2010 Day 18

Today we booked with Extranomical tours to go to the Wine country including Napa Valley and Sonoma.  Shaun was our tour guide with his shaggy hair he looked like Fred from Scobby doo. The day didn’t start too and I was thinking this was going to be a flop. The only seats were available were right at the back of this 12 seater van, i felt so clasuster phobic I was panicking about managing the trip. Thankfully at the next hotel stop he said oh we have 6 more people to get on here. Everyone was looking at each other not sure where these 6 people were going to go and with the fear of being squeezed in me and Clare sat separately squashed up at the front but I was sooooooooo much happier. First stop was the Muir woods which were home to the huge red tree and were spectacular to look at but at 10am it was baltic, even Clare was cold !!!! We walked around a bit miserable and hiding in the huge holes on the trees to avoid the winds. I was certainly ready for a wine after. We visited about 4 different winery before lunch including the Chine Cellars having at least 5 tastings at each. We stopped at the sunflower cafe for lunch in Sonoma village. I ordered a spinach salad which in hindsight wasn’t enough to soak up all the wine. The next few winery people started to warm up and to be fair I was trolled. At the last winery everyone was really into it and chatting away merrily and Charlie and his wife Connie bought some red wine and some cheese for everyone. Before we knew it, an hour had passed and Mike from New York and Matt from Florida had also bought more wine. The wine tour was suppose to finish at 5 and we were all still at the last winery. We finally left having all agreed to be dropped off in Mission for one last drink together. On the way back Shaun took us through Sausalito and took us up to the best viewing point in San Fran, not part of the tour but he was so nice.

Mike and his girlfriend/friend (we were working this out while on the tour) aDrena were so much fun. He bought the whole group a drink and I had a long island ice tea yum. Also on the trip was Matt and Jennifer Gallagher were from Florida, Amanda from London, Matt from down south but he was living in San Fran working for, Jim and Anjelina from San Fran, she was going to be working for Extranomical and this research for her.

After a few more long island (apparently the staff are only allowed to serve you two as they are so strong) Connie seemed to loved me, she kept on shouting "I love Emma" it was funny, she was so cute and we had a good boogie together. We ended up staying out until 10ish after eating pizza that Charlie had bought for us all.

Monday 29th March 2010 Day 19

This was our last day in San Fran, which I’m pretty disappointed about. Although we have done everything we have wanted to I just love it here. This was Catherine’s day off so she took us to the curvest street in San Fran, which meant a huge hike up the steepest hill in San Fran for sure, and we drove down the actually curviest street in San Fran. We then went wedding dress shopping for her. It was nice to feel apart of her big day.

Our flight to Vegas was delayed ahhhhhh.

Finally arrived and paid $6 for our hotel shuttle, bargain. Arrived at the Flamingo hotel to find a huge check in queue at 10pm, bizarre. Quite a lot of people that were clearly suppose to be there for the day and had got too drunk and wanted to stay he he!!! Although I have been to Vegas before my first impressions this time was completely different. It was full of drunken larger louts! Drunken loud Americans on spring break. All the prices had been hiked up, great.
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