San Francisco - our first West Coast destination

Trip Start Jun 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, July 15, 2010

San Francisco (SF) – a city that was sold to us as one of the best in the world – we both have to agree that so far SF ranks 3rd on our places to live.

We arrived into SF on a bus as the Amtrak railroad goes no further than Emeryville. This transfer was a good opportunity to see the city and get our bearings as our stop was the last drop off of 4 stops.  We stayed in the USA Hostel – about a block from Union Square.  This was Kate's first hostel experience – we had a private double room with shared bathroom and toilet.  The hostel itself was quite nice: free wifi, free pancakes in the morning and very friendly staff.  The room itself was mmmmm, habitable but definitely not a place that you would walk around barefoot in or let your parents stay in!!!

Our first day in SF had us walking in a very posh neighbourhood called Nob Hill – amazing homes and views of the city.  We then descended into Fisherman’s Wharf.  Now I know that we are tourists but this was a hellish experience – especially as it is holiday season in the states and it was a Saturday.  It was worse that oxford street at Christmas.  Feeling a little out of place (having been spoilt in Toronto and Chicago) we escaped the madness into the aquarium at pier 39.  Good choice although full of kids!!  We managed to see some sea lions in the bay at pier 39 and catch a tram home – those were the highlights of our day.

The next two days saw the temperature drop to around 14 degrees with the famous fog hitting the city.  It almost felt like we were back in the UK.  We walked though Japan town and then though to Alamo square known as postcard row because of its colourful Victorian Houses.  On Monday we walked through Golden Gate Park and went to the California Academy of Science (Ivor was in his element).

Tuesday turned out to be a perfect day so we walked along the coastal 'Lands End Trail’ from the end of Golden Gate Park, through Eagle point and onto the Golden Gate Bridge.  Luckily for us the weather held out and we were treated to a clear sky and a stunning view of the bridge.  After walking across the bridge we tried to get public transport back – no luck – so Ivor managed to persuade a tour operator to take us on his open air tour bus back to our hostel..... for free (our first honeymoon story that worked).  That was a great experience as the tour took us through places that we had not seen and the tour operator himself was a character.

Wednesday was even hotter than the previous day which was great for us as this was our ‘Alcatraz Tour’ day.  A Ferry took us to the island where we spent 3 hours wandering around the prison, listening to the world famous audio tour.  Alcatraz is an incredible yet completely daunting place – not sure how the prisoners lived under such harsh conditions but there was a successful breakout – 3 escapees and they have still yet to be found!

So SF wasn’t the place we thought it would be but still it was a great place to visit.  One thing that does sell this place, however, is that it was the first place in California to legalise cannabis.  Yep, you can smoke a joint right in front of a policeman and there is nothing they can do about........... the caveat being that smoking weed is only prohibited for health reasons and as our tour guide said – the day that weed was legalised was the day that a lot of people in San Francisco became ‘sick’.

Our next journey takes us to Muir woods and then through to Napa Valley – Wine country – Kate is very excited as Ivor is the designated driver!!!! 

Until then – we hope that you are all well.  When you are not busy – send us some news.

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Hilary on

Wow - Not jealous much! I'm loving reading all your news especially from SF. USA hostels is where Ivan and I were staying when we met... Now we're wondering if you stayed in the same room we ended up in...

You'll have a great time in the Muir woods (REALY big trees) and wine tour. enjoy the drive Ivor.

xx Hils & Ivan

CAK (Cool Aunt Karen ) on

SF looks good to me but it's a shame that guy stole your beer sign Ivor!
The scary thing is you don't look out of place in that cell, ha ha!
We shall have a salad ready on Xmas day after all that drinking and eating.......suppose Ivor's beard will be even longer by then.
A wine tour, why didn't you tell me? look behind I might be there....

Bruce @ Annie on

Have a ball email me me when in Singapore I need land line number in Zim
for Maude @ Clive

Mike M on

wow, it seems that youtr trip is fantasctic.. I'm very jealous..

I gather the 1st place to live is Putney.. LoL...

keep us updated on your fantastic journey..

Dan on

looks like so much fun. So which had better accommodations, Alcatraz or your Hostel? Kate did you want to leave Ivor in the Alcatraz cell for a little bit? ha ha jk
miss ya & Enjoy the rest of your west coast visit!

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