2nd day in SF
Trip Start Sep 21, 2009
19Trip End Oct 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
Grosvenor House Suites
Finally, we followed the crowds and spotted the 1930s open-sided van we were touring in. We only did the short tour, but 90 minutes was enough to give us a good overview of several districts of the city. The treasures wangled themselves seats next to the driver, who kept up a steady stream of interesting patter as we passed historic cathedrals, tallest buildings, the Italian section, Chinatown, painted ladies (Victorian, attached houses painted in at least three colours) and the most amazing mansions previously owned by silver barons, railroad barons and sugar barons
After the tour, we wandered into the Musee Mechanique, a free museum on Pier 41, which houses hundreds of amusement machines and automatons, some dating from the 1800s. Most can be played for a quarter or two, so we spent a happy hour or so here, spending only a few dollars. T1 was thrilled to find a vending machine where he bought a folder to contain his growing collection of souvenir pressed pennies.
Back at the hotel, we rested for half an hour before dressing in warmer clothes for our night tour of Alcatraz. Our taxi took us to Pier 39, which was a big mistake as we really wanted to be at Pier 41 to buy a warm jacket for FOMC and then Pier 33 for the Alcatraz ferry. Doesn't sound too far you're thinking? US distances/city blocks are huge! Running out of time for dinner, we grabbed takeaway Maccas (I'm sure I warned the treasures we wouldn't be eating burgers and fries every day!) and walked, briskly, to Pier 33 - lucky that ferry was 6.10, not 6.00 as we originally thought.
10 minutes across the bay and we joined the other 296 passengers to walk up the hill (geez, is everything in SF on top of a hill?), to be issued with a headset for the self-guided audio tour. This part of the tour lasts about an hour, and takes you up and down the rows of cells, the library and the dining room on the ground floor. Some of the cells are furnished as they would have been and some you can enter. Both of the treasures enjoyed making their own way through the prison, following the tour. As a bonus on the night tour, the hospital section on the first floor was open and lit atmospherically. The temperature had dropped outside, but the night-time views back to the city were spectacular.