Trip of Giants - Pier 39

Published: July 29th 2010
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Liam's request first today: The Aquarium On The Bay. We caught the line 47 bus from two blocks up from the Phoenix and found our way to Pier 39. At 10am there weren't many people around. We went straight in to see the nice collection of fish, jellyfish, sharks etc in tanks and two walking tunnels. They specialised in local fish so not much of corals and tropicals, but lots of sea anemones with other fish. I'd say compared to AQWA they had the same range but different types, and AQWA has larger sharks and rays.

We exited to find Pier 39 filling up with people. We collected tickets for the 12:15 on the Blue and Yellow Fleet 1 hour bay cruise., then with an hour to kill went back to Pier 39. Its loaded with shops of all kinds, jewellery, crab theme (stuffed animals and shirts), crazy socks, candy, chocolate, shells etc. I had to resist buying more shells for my collection. One thing I've appreciated about the US shops is they are full, with lots of selection. I've gotten a feeling lately in Australia that shops are low on stock and small in range.

We visited the Candy Barrell store, where we restrained ourselves to ten toffee/candy items each, then Joseph and I caught the end of a magic show run by Jack and the Sparrows (or some similar name). He was dressed like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, and proceeded to disappear his daughter in a large wicker basket, stabbed swords through it, passed a flaming torch through it etc. She reappeared later, unharmed. His jokes were really bad but the magic was good.

We'd bought fruit on the Pier, exhorbitantly priced (to be expected in a so-called tourist trap), and helped it down with 3 for the price of 2 hotdogs, a voucher deal from a booklet obtained by trading a voucher from our Citypass booklet in at the visitor's centre (yes all a little complicated, but saved us $4).

The cruise was ok. The weather wasn't kind, a strong cold wind blew in an overcast day that made poor photos. But the narration was entertaining and amusing, telling us about the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge and a little bit else. I'd usually not bother with this sort of thing, but it was worthwhile. When we'd disembarked, we headed for the USS Pampanito, a World War II submarine. We spent a short time making our way along its innards for family $20. Pretty neat. Joseph tried several valves but was unable to launch any torpedos. Once we were safely on dry land, we also prevented Joseph from going into the old fashioned arcade centre (mainly because we're getting tired of him finding money everywhere).

Then we joined hoards of people thronging the shops along the wharf area, looking for the Ghirardelli chocolate factory. I had some vague idea that there was a factory tour, but no. Seems the factory shut down some time ago and all you get is a factory demonstration in the back of a shop. We lined up to get in the shop, were given a complimentary choccie bar (very nice caramel filling), then admired the $30 price tag on small bags of chocolates that we'd happily pay $5 for. After squeezing our way out of there, we decided we'd had enough of the crowds and caught bus 30 back past Chinatown to the Metreon cinema. But Descpicable Me and the Sorcerer's Apprentice wasn't on there. We were given directions to find floor 5 in Bloomingdales, where Joseph and I saw the S.A., and Ky and Liam saw D Me ($32 all up). They were both really good. Outside we walked up a few blocks and found a Carl Jr. for dinner. Then we caught the 31 back to the hotel, but not before selecting a bus stop at the end of Turk Street. Nothing happened, but it felt pretty risky with large groups of people hanging out further up the street, homeless people scattered around and the place looking generally not nice. Mental note made not to catch the bus from that stop again (although the sponsored graffitti artwork on the opposite side is stunning, and if I'd felt safe enough I'd have taken out the camera to record it).

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