San Francisco

Published: April 19th 2012
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We had a good flight to San Francisco and were greeted by Kathleen, who is Anton's mum's cousin's wife (have you got that!!!) She took us back to Malia's house, who is also Anton's mum's cousin, although she was at work so Kathleen let us in and showed us around. Kathleen left us to go and collect her husband, Fred, and bring us back some dinner. We settled ourselves in Malia's lovely 1930's (ish) house. Kathleen and Fred returned with some ravioli and salad for dinner and then Malia came home and we had a lovely evening with them all.

After a good sleep in an extremely comfortable bed, Kathleen and Fred took us on a tour of San Francisco. We drove around and stopped at The Palace of Fine Arts and also at The Golden Gate Bridge for some pictures. We then drove to a beach and had a fabulous lunch overlooking the sea, a treat from Fred and Kathleen. After lunch we drove up to Twin Peaks to look out over San Francisco but it was very foggy so we couldn't see much! They then dropped us in town for us to have a look around and then navigate our way back to Malia's. We were very pleased with ourselves when we managed to catch the correct underground train back to the correct station and walk the correct way back to Malia's! We spent the evening planning our week in San Francisco.

The following day we headed out and caught the train into the city to visit the information centre, where we purchased a city pass which gave us travel on all transport and entry into a few attractions. Next we visited the Apple store to see if they could fix our phone, as it has completely lost its sound, but they didn't have an appointment until the next day. We then caught the bus to China Town. It was very big and busy - not really for us but we're glad we saw it. We tried to ask a Chinese man where the best place to eat was but he didn't speak English! We found a restaurant that was full of Chinese people, so figured it must be good and went in for lunch. We ordered what we normally order for take-away in England and it was very nice, although we noticed that all the Chinese ate noodle soup for lunch, not beef and black bean sauce or chicken and cashew nuts!! After lunch we walked down to Fisherman's Wharf and headed to pier 33 to purchase our tickets to visit Alcatraz. It was fully booked until Tuesday, it was only Friday!! We booked in for Tuesday and then walked up to pier 39, which is full of shops and restaurants. We found a left handed shop and with us both being left handed, we loved seeing all the gadgets we could get. When we walked around the side of the pier, we saw loads of sea-lions basking in the sun on floating rafts. It was so funny to watch them fighting for space on the centre rafts, when there were lots of free rafts around the outside! Ben and Jerry's ice-cream was next on the agenda! Anton ordered a waffle cone for each of us but what we didn't realise was the waffle cone was actually huge and it was the sugar cone that was normal. Needless to say, some ended up in the bin when we both couldn't force anymore down. We then walked to the cable car stop but the queue was huge! It was 5pm and we had to be back to Malia's for 6:30pm as some of the family were coming for dinner. We decided to join the queue as it would have taken us longer to walk down to the station, but it actually took an hour to make it to the front. The cable car ride was fun though, we stood and hung on to the sides like they do in the films! By the time we caught the train and made it back to Malia's, it was 7pm! When we walked in the door, everyone was already there and waiting to eat - we felt so bad but they didn't mind. We had a lovely evening with Kathleen, Fred, Wayne (Del's cousin and brother of Malia and Fred), Wayne's wife Carolyn and their children Todd and Wayne.

On Saturday 31st March we went into town for our appointment with Apple. He looked at the phone and said he would have to restore it to its factory settings to see if that would restore the sound but that would wipe all our memory, so we decided against it and bought an IPAD instead!!! An extravegance we know, especially when we have very little money but it was a lot cheaper than buying it in England! We spent the afternoon in the Aqurium, which was one of our free tickets with our city pass. It was good but we felt like it was a smaller version of what we had already seen. That evening we sat and watched a French film, called Bon Voyage, with Malia. It was one of only films we had seen with subtitles but we both found it good.

On Sunday morning Malia took us for a walk to a place called Noe, where she treated us to breakfast in a great cafe. There is a real cafe culture in San Francisco and it seemed like everyone was out for breakfast! Next we walked up and down some huge hills to Castro, which is the gay district. Anton had fun taking pictures of all the double entendre shop names and we even saw a naked man just casually walking down the road. It was a pretty cold day but it didn't seem to affect him!!! ;-) and he had a lovely bum! We then walked through Dolores Park and back to Malia's. That afternoon we went to Kathleen and Fred's to write our last blog about Fiji and had a pretty quiet evening.

The next day we caught the bus to the Exploratorium, which is like a hands on science centre. We had found the correct buses to catch on our ipad! And were so pleased with ourselves when we actually arrived. However, our grins very quickly turned to frowns when we saw a big notice saying that the Exploratorium was closed on Monday's! Our great luck strikes again! After a short-lived disappointment we picked ourselvesup, search how to get to the Museum of Science and headed there instead. It was a great museum with a mixture of stuffed and live animals; they had a live albino alligator! They also had a planetarium but it had a system malfunction which meant we could only see the show on a small screen. We went into their rainforest dome which was full of butterflies; very beautiful. When we were finished we caught the bus back into town to meet Malia for a trip to the cinema. Malia had bought us tickets to see John Carter in the IMAX but when we got into the theatre, they said that the system had failed and they couldn't show the film. They gave Malia a refund and three free IMAX tickets and also three free tickets for any other show that evening. We decided to see John Carter on the normal screen, although it wasn't in 3D as Malia wanted. We had to wait an hour so we went for dinner in a sushi restaurant. The waitress asked Anton if he wanted "wega wice or bwown wice", she meant regular or brown rice. Anton didn't realise this and thought "wega" rice was a rice he'd never had before, so asked the waitress for "wega rice"! The waitress looked a little comfused until we said regular rice!!Malia and I were laughing so much. It was our first experience of a real sushi restaurant and we loved it! The film was a sci-fi/fantasy, not really my thing but it was quite good.

Alcatraz day! In the morning we went on a cruise around the bay, which took us under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island; the weather was lovely so we were able to take some good pictures! After a quick lunch we boarded another boat bound for Alcatraz. When we landed on the island we took a tour up to the cell block. On the way up a large hill, our guide told us about all the people that had tried to escape from Alcatraz. 36 people had tried to escape and all but 5 were caught and accounted for. The 5 that were never accounted for either made it or perished in the cold sea and dragged out with the tide. Once at the cell block we took a self-guided audio tour. It was narrated by past prisoners and prison officers of Alcatraz and had sound effects to make you feel like you were actually there with them when the prison was in use. We learnt what life was like in the prison and how the prisoners gained privileges for spending time out of their cells; otherwise they spent 23hrs a day locked up in a 5x9x7 foot cell! After the tour we had a look around the rest of the island before heading back to San Francisco on the boat. Back at Malia's we had a curry night with Wayne, Carolyn, Todd, Kathleen, Fred, Shanti (Fred's daughter from his first marriage), her partner Aaron and Shanti's mum, Shipra. It was a great evening with all the family.

Our last day in San Francisco! We decided to have a second attempt at the Exploratorium in the morning. It opened at 10am and we were there at 10am to find a humongous queue! When we looked at the entrance, it said 'free Wednesday', now we knew the reason for the queue. We had free tickets from our city pass, so after waiting in the queue for a while, Anton went and found out that we could just walk in without having to queue. Once we were in it was a child's dream playroom! There was so much to do and play on and all linked to science. The only problem was that it was so packed we couldn't get to any of the activities!!! We spent a couple of hours playing before it got so busy that we weren't really enjoying ourselves, so we left. Carolyn and Todd picked us up and took us over the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped at a lookout for photos and then went on to a beach for a walk. It was pretty windy and cold but we embraced it! Next we went to a decommissioned nuclear missile launching station. We were just going to have a look around by ourselves but noticed a small group with a guide, who asked if we wanted to join them. We went into area where they kept a missile and then went in a hydrolic lift down underground to where they kept all the other missiles. Apparently, when it was still in use, no-one knew it existed and if people worked there, they weren't even allowed to tell their families! It wasn't really something we'd normally do but we both found it really interesting. Next we drove to Marin Headlands which looked out over all of San Francisco, it was amazing! Finally we drove to Sausalito, which was like a posh seaside town, a bit like Salcombe or St Ives. I loved all the shops and wish we had lots of space in our bags to buy things! Carolyn treated us to dinner, courtesy of Wayne's credit card! I tried the famous San Francisco clam chowder which was delicious and Anton had a blue cheese beef burger. We went back to Carolyn's to say goodbye to Wayne and then went back to Malia's. That night we packed ready for our departure in the morning.

The next morning we said our goodbyes to Malia and then Kathleen and Fred took us to the airport. We had such a lovely time in San Francisco and were grateful to all the family for their hospitality.

Last stop....Vegas!!!!

Lots of love from Kate and Anton xxxxxx

Xxxxxxxxx for our special little ones

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