San Francisco

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19th

Today we woke up early to go complete our check-in and also to get on the tour van/bus for our day trip into San Francisco.

Our tour guide was Angela, and she was born in Berlin, Germany but has lived here for 16 years or so.  She was very nice, informative and fun the whole day.  We began by driving back over the golden gate bridge and stopping at the rest area.  It is a nice view of the bridge and also gave us a chance to walk out on the bridge.  We took some time here and got our pictures in then hopped back on the bus.

From there we drove down the west coast (ocean side) of San Francisco and saw part of Presidio, Lincoln Park and Ocean Beach.  We then drove into Golden Gate Park where we again were able to walk around.  Apparently there was nothing but sand dunes in the past, but John McLaren designed this park, and they planted and landscaped it all.  It really is nice.  At the corner of the park is an old dutch-style Windmill, which was interesting to a few people from Holland in our tour group.  We stopped next to the DeYoung Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and the bandshell there.  The park was really pretty.  The DeYoung Museum has an observation level we were able to go up and get a great view of the park and city.  Both the museum buildings, were really interesting designs.  I definitely enjoyed the architecture of the city all day.

From there we drove through Haight Ashbury, which was an area populated by hippies in the 60's.  It was a neat area full of color and tattoo parlors.  This area was full of Victorian style houses that survived the fires and earthquakes of 1906. 

Next was Alamo Square, which is a park adjacent to the painted ladies (the famous Victorian houses).  You may recognize this park from the start up credits of Full House.  I believe it is the scene where they pull up in the red convertible and throw the frisbee around.  Then maybe even have a picnic.  We didn't get to see the house from the show today, but maybe tomorrow.

From there we headed through the civic center and down California St.  This brought us to the San Francisco Bay at Pier 1, then up the coast and we stopped at pier 43 for lunch.  Pier 43, aka Fisherman's Wharf, was a sort of touristy area full of restaurants and gift shops on the pier.

After we had an awesome lunch at Pier No 9. Fisherman's Grotto.  Jen ordered the Halibut linguini and I had a dungeoness crab and clam chowder.  It marks the first time Jen ordered seafood for herself for dinner.

After we met back up with the bus, we drove through Ghirardelli square.  This is an area containing the original Ghirardelli chocolate factory.  Then we drove by the "crookedest street" aka Lombard St on our way to check out the cable cars up close. 

The cars work in a really simple but cool way.  Between the tracks under the ground is a cable that is constantly running. The cable car clamps onto the cable and it just pulls it up the hill.  The driver can control the clamp and the brake. Then basically they can just coast downhill.  At the base there is a turnaround circle that the conductors pull up on and then two people just push it to turn it around.  All simple, but very cool.

From there we drove up to China town.  Here we walked down this alley to a hole in a wall, which was the golden gate fortune cookie company.  We got a free cookie and watched them make some cookies.  We had to pay to take pictures, therefore we have no pictures inside the little shop.  Then we wandered around China town for a little before heading out to Pacific Heights.  Also called the Beverly Hills of San Francisco.  There were some gorgeous houses and mansions up on top of this hill.  It was developed as the ritzy area, mainly because of the view it has over San Francisco.  Which also means it is really steep to get up there.  It was interesting driving it in a big van.  We definitely aren't going to be taking the RV up there tomorrow.

We headed to Fort Mason from there to have another view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Base.  It was our final stop before we headed back to the campground. 

After we got home we blogged, took Nash out and had an excellent "Primanti brothers" style dinner and relaxed

Tomorrow is the Alcatraz tour. 

Friday, May 20th

Today we got up again to take a day trip into San Francisco to see Alcatraz and to do/see some other things we didn't get a chance to yesterday.  Since we only have the RV, we asked our tour guide yesterday what the best way to get into the city would be.  She suggested driving to Larkspur and hopping on the ferry, but the only concern is the parking lot at the ferry doesn’t allow RV’s so we would have to rely on street parking.  So we got up and left early to get to larkspur and hopefully get a spot on the street.  When we got to larkspur there was a ton of street parking right next to the ferry, so we gave Nash his treat and headed on our way.

We bought our tickets and pretty much got right on the ferry.  It was a really nice ferry, mainly because it was newly remodeled. It was only the 3rd day it had been in use.  We got nice window seats and Jen got us a coffee to share on our ride.  On and odd note, we saw Julie’s (my sister) doppelganger while we were waiting for the ferry and she was sitting right behind us then on the ride.  The ride took us into the city, right by Alcatraz Island, it would have been nice if we could have just stopped and hopped off on our way, but alas we couldn’t.

The ferry pretty much arrives at Pier 1, and the Alcatraz ferry leaves from Pier 33, so we hiked it up to Pier 33 and got in line for our 11:30 ferry ride to Alcatraz.  We timed it pretty well and were able to get a spot on the upper level in the front of the ferry giving us some good views of the approach to the island.  We then watched the introductory movie and did the audio tour of the prison and island.  It was really interesting, especially since I just watched "Six against the Rock" the other night.  It must have been filmed in the cell blocks. Also, that movie and “Escape from Alcatraz” were based off real escape attempts.  They say no successful attempts are known, basically the guys from “Escape from Alcatraz” were never heard from again, so they assume they died.  It was also cool because of the many faces the island had.  It began as a fort, and then became a military prison, then a federal penitentiary, then a site for a Native American protest, now a national park.  While the prison was active, many of the guards and their families lived on the island too.  So it was cool to find out when we got to the gift shop, one of those kids that grew up on the island was there doing a book signing/meet and greet.  We purchased one of his many books on Alcatraz that was written by him and his father and we got him to sign it. It was pretty cool to hear him talk a little about living on the island. He said it was pretty awesome, he got to ride a boat to school every day and when he returned home it was a quiet little town, with a great view of San Francisco.  Now as a national park, there are a lot of different birds that have made the island their home.  In addition to new wildlife, there were some beautiful gardens, some from when “the rock” was a prison. After the audio tour we wandered the island then hopped on a ferry back to the city.

We got back to Pier 33 and walked up to Pier 39 to check out the San Francisco harbor sea lions.  They were very entertaining to watch.  Then we walked/hiked into the city, up to the “crookedest street” aka Lombard.  We quickly drove by this yesterday but we wanted to get a better view.  Stupidly we walked in the uphill direction, haha.  But we had to go this route because the cable car we wanted to catch was at the top of the crookedest street.  After we got to the top and caught our breath, a cable car happened to come by and stop.  There was just enough room for Jen and I to hop on the outside, but not next to each other.  The Brake-man we had was pretty funny the whole ride.  The further we went on the line the more room there was, so Jen was eventually able to move to my side of the cable car.  We rode the cable car up and down a bunch of hills until the end of the line at Market Street.  From here we walked back market street with all the business people heading to the ferry.  We got there as they were boarding the ferry, so it worked out nicely for us.  After we got our seats, we decided to have happy hour on the ferry with all the other business people.  Apparently that’s the thing to do on a Friday on your way home.  After we got back to the RV, we drove into Petaluma to check out the downtown, and then headed back to the campground.  We took Nash for a long walk since he was cooped up all day.  I was really in the mood for Chinese or Thai so I decided to make beef and broccoli. It was in our 101 ways to cook ramen, and it hit the spot. 

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Jenny on

Did you see the "Full House?"

Jen on

No we didn't see the house from Full House. We didn't go by it on our tour and it would have been a big walk so we didn't get over to it.

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