San Francisco

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

For our first day in San Francisco we had a big sleep in (which was very welcome after a few nights of very little sleep) and ended up having breakfast at midday. We then bought a 3 day public transport pass for US$18 (which seemed pretty good value seeing as a single tram ride was $5, and it gets unlimited use of the cable cars, buses, trains and trolley cars for those 3 days) and caught a cable car over to Fisherman's Wharf. After a walk along the waterfront and into an amusement museum, we went back to the hotel before having dinner in Lori's Diner, a 1950s American style diner with planes hanging from the ceiling, classic cars coming out of the wall etc. The food was really good, and I thought the restaurant was a pretty cool place.
Next day, we ate at Lori's Diner again for breakfast (which again was really good), where we had a minor altercation with the girl behind the counter, as she demanded that we provide a bigger tip, as we didn't quite get to the 15% suggested gratuity! She was very demanding and rude about it, so we just walked out...I agree that we should provide a tip there (even though I personally disagree with the idea...but when in Rome and all that) but I still believe that the tip should be what we are prepared to give based on the service we received, not a blindly hand out 15% of every bill.
We then hopped on a bus over to the Golden Gate Bridge. Walking across it took about an hour, including frequent stops to take in the view, and the weather was really nice - hardly any clouds in the sky, fairly good visibility, and the temperature was warm but comfortable. From the bridge we had a great view out over the inner harbour from Sausilito at the north, Angel and Alcatraz islands, and the city. We also saw some seals in the water below (which were really hard to photograph!) and some Pelicans, Canadian Geese and other birds.
Once finished there, we caught the right bus (in the wrong direction...) back to the city, but fortunately we ended up accidentally taking a shorter route! We headed over to Pier 39, and ate at the Hard Rock Café. It was the first time I had eaten at one, but I thought it was a cool place. The walls were covered in rock memorabilia, including a jacket belonging to Jimi Hendrix, a Bowler hat belonging to John Lennon, a hat signed by Michael Jackson, and an electric guitar signed by Nirvana. The food was good (bit expensive, but that was expected) and the drinks were nice too, and we got a couple of souvenir glasses to keep which was an unexpected bonus.
Once done there, we walked to Pier 33 and jumped onto the ferry over to Alcatraz Island. Luckily we were advised to book in advance, as the tours almost always sell out a few days before each trip. We had a really interesting audio tour, saw the moon rise over the Bay Bridge, took some photos and had a good look around. It was quite fascinating to see how the prisoners lived, and it's not hard to see why there were 32 escape attempts. I really enjoyed the tour of the island, and would recommend it to anyone visiting San Fran.
Next day we caught a bus back to LA. Apart from the fruits trees growing alongside the motorway, the countryside we went past was baron and dry. We had a bit of a tour through Hollywood and LA on the way back to the bus depot, then had a slightly hair raising drive in a taxi back to Hermosa the region of 90mph, or around 150kph!
Really enjoyed the trip to San Francisco, and thought it was a nice city. We were surprised to see Pohutukawa trees growing in the middle of the city, and I thought it was quite clean (as far as cities go) and the public transport was very good, especially as it was all integrated so that a single ticket could be used for everything. The only downside was that there was a lot of beggars on the streets, but otherwise I found it to be a nice place to travel to.
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