San Fransisco

Trip Start Apr 20, 2008
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, April 25, 2008

Arrived in San Fransisco about midday Wednesday 23rd of April, yes that is indeed 7 hours before we left Aukland. We decided on the easy option and got an airport shuttle bus straight to our hostel, the green tortoise. On first appearance the place seemed quite dodgy, right in the red light district, daggy old psychedelic carpet and a funky smell. However it did grow on us and we ended up quite loving it.

After checking in and showering we headed straight out to do some sight seeing, slept very badly on the plane so feeling exhausted! Walked around the local area and got some lunch from an Italian restaurant. Our hostel is right where China town meets the Italian quarter so the restaurant choice was quite sensational. This became out first experience of tipping and I find the whole thing quite painful, not knowing how much to tip and how to tip etc. Anyway we walked down to Fisherman's wharf which
is the main tourist area. Went to Pier 39 which is like a theme park... not the rides but the shops and how everything is so over the top and looks like it's been cut out of cardboard. They has some wicked candy shops too but I was soon put off by obese Americans buying pounds of peanut butter chocolate fudge.

San Fransisco  is a crazy city with some crazy crazy hills. There's this street in the Russian quarter which is the "crookedest street in  the world" it has 8 turns and is on a 40 degree slope, there are steps either side for pedestrians. It's a pretty cool city though and not half as busy as I expected it to be, it's also very compact and easy to get around.

Back at the hostel there was free dinner being cooked by one chef and any guests who wanted to help. It turned out to be a really nice Mexican style dinner and was a very social occasion.

Thursday we got up early and headed down to the wharf to hire some bikes. We rode across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to a nice town called Sausalito where we had some lunch. We rode on to a place called Old Mill Park where there are some big old trees similar to the Muir woods which were too far away to ride to. It was a really nice park although it was actually a suburb,
with houses all over the place up on the sides of massive hills, some of which had escalators to get up to them !!?? We rode on to Tiburon which is out on the peninsula opposite San Fran. By this stage we had ridden almost 38kms and I was exhausted, my legs hurt and my butt hurt so badly I could hardly sit on my bike. We caught the ferry back to the city which only took 20mins. From there we rode to the baseball park just to have a peek inside and then finally dropped our bikes back around 7pm!

Got back to the hostel to find the pub crawl we were going to go on had already left. Made some friends in the internet room and decided to go out with them. Despite being in the red light district it felt a lot safer walking around there than other areas, it was good to be in a group though! Went to a really small bar called Saloon which had a live band playing which were really good.. cheap drinks too.

Friday we were up early again and caught a bus out to Golden Gate Park. Walked around there for a bit and then walked down Haight street which has a lot of small funky alternative shops. We then rushed back to the wharf to get on a tour to Alcatraz. It's about a 20 min ferry ride out there and they bring over a ferry full of a couple of hundred tourists every half an hour... it's insane, it was really interesting but what could have been such an amazing experience was somewhat tainted by being one of the masses.

In the afternoon we checked out another side of town and went to Union Square and market street. We caught a cable car there which we discovered are not really used as a form of transportation but exist almost entirely for the benefit of tourists and for taking as much money as possible from them. Despite this I did thoroughly enjoy my ride in the cable car and it took us where we wanted to go. Union Square is where a lot of the exclusive designer brand shops are, and Macy's which we walked in to and yes we did see a lady carrying around her dog in her handbag.

We made out way to Fort Mason YHA where we were to be picked up from for a 2 day tour to Yosemite.

Interesting fact: Alcatraz was the only state penitentiary to have hot water showers so that the inmates would not acclimatise to the cold water.
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