Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
23Trip End Nov 28, 2012
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So whilst on the bus en-route to SF, I thought if try out Hotwire.com and book a hotel. I got to book a room at the Sheraton in Fisherman's Wharf Hotel for $100. Location, Location, Location! so I arrived at the Greyhound station at round 4:30am yesterday. But like I mentioned, a really big black African (Senegal) American man, who was on the same bus, appeared - when the lights on the bus came on - and started chatting to me. At this point I wasn't afraid in the least coz I had finally arrived in SF and was very excited. He gave me his number and offered to take me around that day if I wanted to. He also helped me hail a cab and for $7 I was dropped off at the Sheraton
Unfortunately at this hour, I wasn't able to book in, but the desk clerk unlocked the dining room's restroom (they are not called toilets or ladies rooms or bathrooms - I tried) and here I managed to buff - or at least brush my hair, teeth and splash a bit of water on my slits (that would be my eyes). I was allowed to also hand my backpack in for safekeeping and then I sat in the firepit outside and waited till the sun came up - and then I took to the streets.
I just ambered along Fisherman's Wharf with the aim of seeing Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and to get my bearings. It was breathtaking. I sat on Pier 39 for a long time watching the seals and taking in the view and also just to reflect at how lucky I am. I've been doing this a lot.
I had pre-booked my trip to Alcatraz and the hop on hop off sightseeing tours so at 9am I found my way down to their departure point and hopped on their double decker and went for a tour. I took loads of pics and learnt heaps of useful and useless stuff up until the point where I hopped off the Downtown Tour at Union Square in order to hop on the Golden Gate Park tour. Firstly, I was one of the last to get on so ended up sitting downstairs - where you can see squat through those pixel-covered windows - so my initial thought was to just listen carefully to the tour guide and come back on my own to places I found interesting. That is until he started talking... Ok granted, I was a bit bushed but this guy fancied himself as a comedian, singer, politician etc! So after the first failed joke and first few bars to something, he'd lost me (and a few others too as I could tell from the fleeting glances passed between friends and families). What I did remember and what captivated me (minus the tour guide) was the Haight Ashbury area - the home to the hippies. There are loads of hippies that live in an area of Golden Gate Park in tents or under blankets. Men and women who are hippies! They're not like our homeless people though, in fact there is an incredible feeling of peace in this area. The old Victorian houses are unbelievably beautiful and many are decorated in colours and styles representing the hippie era. There is one particular bush on the edge of the park which has been trimmed into the peace sign. The shops are very arty and ethereal. Yes, Haight Ashbury was special but the rest in between that was blank.
Then at 1:20 I got onboard the Alcatraz Express boat and headed off to The Rock. I posted a lot on FB yesterday about Alcatraz and rather than go into a lot of detail again, I can honestly say that this was a very moving experience and will definitely be up there with one of my gazillion highlights. I also bought myself one of those prisoner-issued denim shirts (been looking for a Levi one for ages) which has a small penitentiary label at the bottom. I love it! The National Parks use all the donations and sales and throw it back into the restoration of Alcatraz. They recently finished restoring the old water tower and their next project is the guard house so a shirt well bought.
Oh Yes, I bought a corn dog from a street vendor for lunch yesterday. At my daughter's request. It was the strangest tasting thing - sweet mixed with savoury. It's not that filling and the jury is still out as to whether Ill buy another.
By the time I got back to the hotel at around 4:30pm, I was absolutely shattered and my feet hurt like hell. So I checked in and went to the room to sit for a bit. Ooh, they have this perculator in the room with pods of coffee. Duh... of course a coffee is going to be just perfect right now!!! And it was after that, that I took to the streets and came back with 2 pairs of fabulous fitting Levi's. Yes, Daphne the little Chinese lady who looked and acted like she was on speed, was really lovely and probably has a family of 12 to feed - and at $70 for both - what a bargain! I think I fell asleep midway through updating a Facebook message round 9:30. I know this coz thankfully I had not posted it - those who have fallen victim to my sleeping tablet texts will know what I'm referring to!
Then I was wide awake again at 3, fell asleep and was woken at 5 by the travel agent regarding my ticket. More on that later..
After a lavishly long bath and re-packing my bags, I checked out at 8 and headed off to do some more sightseeing. I took the tram up to Lombard Street, walked down and all the way back down to Beach road. That was also quite surreal seeing that. Then I watched while the filming crew offloaded the Ford Fairlane near the Cannery and then decided to resist all temptation and go to Starbucks. Grande Vanilla Latte and an egg, bacon and Gouda (pronounced goooda) sandwhich and sat on the pavement with that until my scheduled Golden Gate Bridge tour.
I was one of not very many who decided to get off the bus and walk and this was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was actually quite emotional and had to stop a good couple of times to pinch myself. I posted many pics of my walk across and it honestly felt like I had all of you with me the whole way - another of my gazillion highlights. Then we went off to Sausalito which is home to the stinking rich and some famous. Incidentally Otis Redding used to stay on a houseboat here and this is what he is referring to in "I'm sitting on the dock of the bay..." Then there was one last stop for a view like many will never have the privilege of seeing and that is at the top of Marin Headlands overlooking SF.
And that, my friends, is my day thus far. I need to rush off now to the Greyhound Station to apparently get my ticket although I've been told if I don't go and pick up a ticket this afternoon, and only go tonight, then I may not get on if the bus is full. I'm only scheduled to leave at 11:30pm which means I must now pay $7 for a taxi to take me to fetch a ticket and $7 back coz it seems all Greyhound stations are scaly so I'm certainly not going to sit there till 11 something. I may as well sit here where I have free wifi and a charger. I may even go for another stroll somewhere.Note to self: If I don't come back to SA thin and fit then I must go and see a geneticist.