Published: August 30th 2012August 29th 2012
A somewhat relaxed departure from Pacific Grove - we couldn't just race away from Zeus - and we headed on past Santa Cruz.....with a brief stop at a couple of stores (partly so see if our UK Costco Card really would let us in over here - yes!) before winding our way up to the World Famous Mystery Spot
for an hour in the woods. Okay, I am sure it is all simple optical illusions, but the young lad entertaining us as our guide was amusing enough, and the pictures make for an odd experience....take Ellie's Matrix Impersonation, for example !
Next up was the chance to demonstrate everything Stephen had learned.....of the hidden menu for In'n'Out Burgers
. Yes, a neopolitan shake, protein mustard style, 3x2 extra everything and more were enjoyed, and frankly the quality is absolutely tip-top - everything very freshly made, onions being peeled in the background, a surprisingly good experience !
From there we went on to check on NetApp Corp HQ - yup, even more buildings on Crossman Street - but thankfully I had forgotten to contact anyone or take my pass, so we had to simply take a quick walk around the buildings to
pay our respects & then head on north towards San Francisco.
We were most impressed on arriving at 722 Steiner Street
: The Painted Lady was in fine fettle, and the owner, Michael Shannon, showed us both our spectacular ground floor apartment (with garage !) and also the first floor area - a rather special place! His two doggies, Betty and Milly, were also a hit with us!
We settled in and went for a short walk to get some supplies and relax in the apartment for the evening.
Note, the place is on the market and could be yours for a snip under $4M... Tuesday 28th
Today we had arranged to meet up with some old friends for lunch. I had forgotten it was VMworld (& hence many friends are in town!), but we had a gentle 2 mile hike down towards the Moscone Center to see Steve & June Manley, as well as Friea Berg, for a lovely lunch at Amber India.
Another chance to do a little shopping as well on the way, so all were happy.....
After that, we stood in line and took the classic cable car ride up
and down across the City. A fabulous view from the front of the car, and a nice easy way to deal with the gradients!
At the bottom we walked on to the coastline and headed directly into Musee Mechanique: a delightful collection of old arcade machines. All in working order, and many over 100 years old. We spent some time playing them before taking a look outside at the submarine.
A wander up to Pier 39 for the full *ahem* tourist experience was punctuated with a lens purchase for Ellie's camera, and a few other gifts were bought on to the end of the pier, where the famous sea lions slept or yawned in the afternoon sun.
We picked up our tickets for tomorrow's Alcatraz Trip before heading on the old F-line Streetcar for a ride back up the hill. Quite bizarre, as the lady driving it didn't want our money ("got no receipts so pay at next stop") and then got so engrossed in ringing her bell & berating other bad drivers, we ended up taking that for free.
A quick snack in a cafe and the evening spent tidying up our gear before an
early night. Weds 29th
An early start to drive down to Pier 33 for our day on the islands - Alcatraz and Angel Island. A bit of a battle to get everyone up, but c'mon, this is our last full day !
We got down bright and early & managed to take a route that meant we drove down a beautifully quiet Lombard Street ("The Crookedest Little Street In The World"!). Quick photo opportunity, then on down to park up and enjoy a last large breakfast (IHOP - I know, a duplicate visit, but we were hungry and the choice nearby was....er...non-existent !)
Then on to the ferry terminal for the obligatory "stand in front of this so we can photoshop you in front of some other picture that you won't want to pay $22 for later today", and onto our ferry, the Hornblower Hybrid - yes, the first multi-hull hybrid vessal in the USA......and our Captain showed how well it worked by parking like an old lady with the wrong glasses backing into a tight spot.......numpty !
We landed at Angel Island and were welcomed by a park ranger and invited to board
one of the tram tours. A very pleasant way to spend an hour there in the heat - the Island has had a few uses, including as an Immigration Station ("the Ellis Island of the West") and also for housing POW during WWII.....but now rests peacefully as a California State Park, with it's own unique mole (well, everything needs a USP !)
Views across the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) and the main City were very spectacular, especially as the sea fog was actually rolling in a little and covering underneath the Bridge, but not the top !
After a couple of hours there, we headed back to our Hybrid - El Capitan appeared to be learning better on his parking manoevres - and over to the US Devil's Island we headed.....The Rock beckoned !
Alcatraz is a bit of a cliched tour that everyone does for San Francisco, but the headset tour really is
good - very atmospheric, well told by former inmates & warders, and truly fascinating.
The one piece I did not like was in the big Dining Hall- they had a huge display about 5 murderers and how they had
effectively rehabilitated their lives. Lovely for them, but not a word for the victims or the lives of the families of those victims - I found it all rather shameful. They had a "post-it" board for people to put their comments, and I was relieved to see my perspective was not alone...
Anyway, the tour done, we headed back to the 3:45 ferry outta there.....making it a pretty full day, almost 7 hours, but well worthwhile.
We headed across to take a look at Fort Point, under the GGB, but sadly my hope that it was open until 6pm was wrong, and we only had 10 minutes before they shut.....the warden chased us around, and kindly took a picture of the 4 of us....
.....& then we drove up the hill to take a look at the Bridge from the top. They had a new shop with some nice gifts in - it being the 75th anniversary of it's opening this year & all !
By now, all the earlier fog had completely cleared away, and we had some excellent views across it.....so lots of pictures followed.....
.....but everyone was a bit tired and a
bit hungry, so we headed onwards along a bit of the "49-mile Scenic Drive" to take a look at the coast: weird how they have a spectacular beach, but not really much in the way of beach cafe's, etc.....so we headed inland and found somewhere with a bit of sushi and salad to fill the gap before heading 'home' to blog & pack........
There are more photos below