San Francisco

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, December 16, 2007

29th November - 2nd December 2007.

We both had been looking forward to visiting San Francisco since we decided to add it to our trip. The flight up from Vegas took only one hour and we were sitting next to a San Fran local who gave us the insiders guide to the city. Armed with our newly acquired knowledge we set off for an action packed weekend.

We stayed at the Hotel Union Square, right in the heart of the shopping district. The streets were packed with Christmas shoppers, and we could take in the atmosphere from the fire escape outside our window. The cable cars ran right below our window towards Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown while trams ran from the bottom of our street in another direction towards the waterfront. We bought a three day transport pass which covers all the crazy forms of transport this city offers, which was good value at $18, considering one ride on the cable car costs $5.

The weather was perfect for our first day so we took advantage of it and caught a cable car to the waterfront then the ferry to Alcatraz for the tour. The third level of the ferry produced the best views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges and the "Rock", the small island on which they built Alcatraz. Our tour started with some history and tales of escape attempts, before we climbed the hill to the prison grounds. We were each given headsets through which a commentary from an ex-warden and several prisoners describing the different areas of the jail and some of the things that went down there complete with sound effects. Later we caught a tram "home" before tucking into our first American hotdog with ketchup and mustard.

Saturday was cooler and a bit overcast but we would not be deterred. We jumped back on the cable car and rode up to the top of the hill then turned right and walked down to Chinatown. The streets were buzzing with the small market stalls overflowing. With sights and smells it was easy to imagine we had left San Francisco for the orient. We walked two blocks down towards the waterfront and were transported back to familiar territory. Our path took us to a cross roads, where to turn right would have taken us to the city centre or left would take us up the steepest hill we'd seen so far. We chose the steep option as it promised a great view from the top. We weren't disappointed with sweeping views of the bay and city. The road on the other side down had been replaced with gardens and a staircase that wound its way down to the next block. From there we walked back down to the waterfront to explore Fisherman's Wharf and find some of the "locals" that lived there that we had heard about. Pier 39 is home to a family of sea lions that have lived there for a number of years and become a tourist attraction in their right. We ate really bad fish and chips for lunch, which was disappointing. Catfish is the wrongest fish in the world.

We hired a car for the next two weeks for our road trip down the coast to LA, but first we took our PT Cruiser over the Golden Gate Bridge to the north of San Francisco to explore the coastline and visit Muir Wood forest. Muir Wood is home to an ancient redwood forest with trees several hundred feet high and three metres across at their base. The beaches looked OK from the car but with the temp hovering at 14 degrees with 30 knot southerly winds blowing a swim was not on the cards.

Next, we take off down the coast.... Road Trip!!!
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