San Francisco - As easy as 1-2-3 (part I)

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September 16th 2018
Published: September 20th 2018
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Seattle to San Francisco

After leaving Ketchikan at 2pm we weren’t due to arrive in our final port of call, Victoria until 7pm the following day. During our final day at sea, word got around that whales have been spotted. There was a mad rush to catch a glimpse of these graceful marine mammals. I strolled over to the railing of the promenade deck to see what the fuss was about. I saw, in the distance a spurt of water and a small dot far out to sea break the surface of the water for a few seconds. That didn’t deter our would-be David Bailey’s who were freely snapping away with their camera phones and compact digitals eager to post to Facebook and other social media sites to share their speck (It would probably look more like dirt on the camera lens than the profile of a hump back whale!!) with friends and family.

This afternoon, we took part in a game show called ‘who’s the cuckoo?’. Three of the Entertainment’s team give a statement about themselves. The audience are then invited to ask questions in order to determine who, if anyone, is not telling the truth. Natalie, one of the Entertainment’s team from Australia claimed that she once played a nun in a Bollywood movie. I asked the question, ‘What was the name of the movie….in Hindi!!!’ She ignored the last part of my question and advised it was a sequel called: ‘The return of Jafal’. Wait a minute, wasn’t he the baddie in Aladdin?? I was starting to think too much. Was this a bluff or a double bluff? It was only a game show. A bit of fun. Just go with your gut. My gut said Natalie was telling us porkies!! She wasn’t!! It turns out that, in this instance Natalie was telling the truth and auditioned for a role when Bollywood came to Sydney. They offered her the role of a nun!! The most interesting fact to come out of this game show is that Duke Christopher, the Cruise Director, won Stars in their Eyes where he impersonated Gerry Lee Lewis. He won a chance to perform live on stage with the great man himself as well as the legendary Chuck Berry.

We arrived in Victoria on schedule. We wandered out on deck to assess the situation. It was getting dark, it was windy and it was wet. We had no specific plans in Victoria so it would be a case of wandering the streets!! Victoria is the capital of British Colombia, Canada and that’s all I’m going to say on the matter as we made the executive decision to remain on board. We had seen what we came to see. We headed back inside and ventured down to Explorer’s lounge.

It was no surprise that we won the final trivia of the cruise. This was a game show called: I’ll take trivia for 100. This was hosted by Brenna. She started by explaining that this trivia was based on a real TV game show but they have had to change the name because if they didn’t their jobs would be in Jeopardy!! This was slightly amusing the first time she used it earlier in the cruise but I always thought the golden rule of comedy was don’t repeat a joke to the same audience. The trivia works like this: Each team receives a sheet of paper with a grid. Along the top are categories and down the side are monetary values so, for example, a question may be Inventors for $200. The higher the value, the more difficult the question. One of the categories, this time, was cocktails. It was no surprise that we scored poorly although Bonnie managed to identify two out of the five cocktail questions. What’s a Fuzzy Navel, for Pete’s sake? I always thought it’s just somewhere to keep your spare fluff!!! Luckily, Flags was another category. Occasionally, the question is worth double money. The $400 flag was Bermuda and double money. We were the only team to get it right. This got us out of jail for those incorrect cocktail questions

We said our goodbyes to Bonnie leaving her with the bottle of Champagne to share with her family when they board next week.

Disembarkation was straight forward. We booked on the Princess shuttle direct to Seattle airport, purely for convenience. The cost of the shuttle each was $28 each. This seems a bit extreme but as we had some on board credit left, the shuttle actually cost us $28 between us which was slightly less than taking an Uber direct and a lot less hassle than making our own way via taxi and train. The next leg of our journey, to San Francisco was uneventful even though we were travelling DELTA. They say this is an acronym for Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive!! They almost lived up to their unenviable initials as all suitcases had been dispatched to the carousel but we were still waiting for Roisin’s. Panic over, the case had turned over and neither of us recognised it at first from its under carriage.

From the airport we took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and is a train system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The nearest stop to our accommodation was a thirty-minute ride from the airport to Mission and 16th. From there, we snapped our fingers and an Uber appeared a la Mr Benn. 10 minutes later we were walking up the wooden steps of our home for the next four nights. We retrieved the keys from the key box and entered. This was another place we had booked through Air BnB. We had entered someone’s home. This was a completely different experience from our time in Seattle. The beauty with Air BnB is that one day you can be in a converted outhouse in someone’s back yard. The next day a dark, and dismal bedroom on the ground floor of a private residence, for that is what we had signed up to on this occasion. The bedroom was situated on the ground floor of the dwelling adjacent to a bathroom for our exclusive use. The bedroom was painted a dark purple (as described on the web site so no great shock.) The single light bulb gave off a luminescence slightly brighter than a homemade candle! (but only slightly) There were two small nightstands either side of the double bed with a portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin watching over us. This, I believe to be a Warhol take on the Russian founder of the Communist party. I think he is better suited to cans of soup!! (Warhol not Lenin!!)

On entering the house, the hallway runs from the front down to the kitchen situated at the rear. There were two lounges on the right-hand side connected by a sliding door. An electric guitar stood on its stand in one corner facing several book cases crammed with novels and reference books. The books seemed to have some sort of order as the rows were coordinated according to the colour of their spine!!

The owners lived upstairs and whilst we were advised that we could use the facilities downstairs, we were asked to respect their privacy as the upstairs quarters were out of bounds. On arrival, the owners were away at Lake Tahoe. They will be home tomorrow evening, overnight, before jetting off somewhere else! Don’t you just hate these people who swan off here, there and everywhere and are no sooner home than they are away again!!??

San Francisco is one of Roisin and my favourite cities. There is so much to see and do and it is so easy to get around despite the famous steep inclines. Among other things, here is The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, riding a Cable Car, The Painted Ladies, Twin Peaks, Muir Woods, the wiggly road that is Lombard Street and the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. We’ve seen and done all the above so will not be visiting these attractions on this trip. Please refer to earlier blogs for additional photos of San Francisco. Our cruise over, we had a few days to chill out and relax. We planned on seeing some of the city we have not had the pleasure of getting to know but it was at our own pace with only a loose agenda.

Our first item on the agenda was a trip to AT & T Park, home of San Francisco Giants base ball team. They were playing against the Colorado Rockies. We have seen the Giants in action twice before. Once in 2010 and once in 2012. Both games ended in victory for the home team and in both seasons they went on to lift the World Series. This time however, they’re season is beyond redemption. We have come too late. They won yesterday but on the back of ten straight losses, their season was effectively over. Today at the ball park was Star Wars day. Free baseball caps were given away inside the stadium. Lou Seal, the Giant’s mascot had dressed up as Darth Vadar for the occasion. He was joined by several other characters from the Star Wars franchise lending a carnival atmosphere to the whole occasion.

On a scoreboard at the far side of the outfield is the number of recorded splash hits. AT & T Park lies on the edge of McCovey Cove. Any ball that is hit out of the park will likely end up in the water, hence the title: Splash Hits. In 2010, when we first visited, the number of Splash hits was 54. Today it stood at 78. That’s 22 in eight years yet canoeists are there during every game in the hope of retrieving one of these sought after trophies. The Splash Count started in 2000 at the start of the new millennium. Today, the Giants lost 3-2 but not to anyone’s surprise!!

We had arranged to meet our friends William and Simon after the game. I rang William to make final arrangements. He had forgotten how distinct the Liverpool accent was. He said it was like talking to a Beatle!!

Simon and William live in a small apartment on the top floor of block in the Guerrero neighbourhood of the city on the edge of the Mission district. We first met Simon and William in 2012 on the Royal Princess’s inaugural Trans-Atlantic crossing (through trivia, of course) and have kept in touch ever since. We took a bus directly from near the ball park and were greeted by William as we alighted at 24th & Mission.

After refreshments at their home where we caught up on events since we last met in Liverpool twelve months earlier, William and Simon took us on a whistle-stop tour of the surrounding area. It was Sunday evening yet we couldn’t help being amazed at the exuberant atmosphere and hipster vibe. Despite, technology-based businesses sweeping the area in recent years, including a cryospa (I like to chill as much as the next person but that’s taking the meaning to the next level!!), there is still an eclectic mix of restaurants and hang outs.

Mission is renowned for its alleys full of vibrant murals of which our tour wouldn’t have been complete without seeking out the most photographed attraction in the area. The murals change from time to time and range from the comical, the thought provoking, surrealism, lots of anti-Government satire and my favourite, the vivacious colours of the murals promoting enlightenment.

One alley had a whole row of footwear strung twenty feet up across overhead cables. This is supposed to be a sign of gang activity. Wait, was that Airs Jordans I could see? That’s a very expensive way to make a statement!! Oh, no hold on. They’re only Hotter shoes, panic over!!

We ventured in to the rather quirky taxidermy store. Here you could buy anything from a stuffed cockroach for a few dollars to the head and neck of an $8,000 giraffe. There were spiders, beautifully mounted small rodents, blowfish exoskeletons, turtle shells, animal bones and exotic sea shells. I was reliably informed that none of these creatures were on the endangered species list (yet!!)

The day was nicely rounded off with a visit to a Mexican diner. I chose the quesadilla. All I know is that it contained chicken and other stuff but the important thing was that it was very tasty. It had been a long day. After arranging to meet up tomorrow for a special treat, we said our goodbyes as we clambered in to our Uber. $5.50 by bus then a fifteen-minute walk or $9.08 by Uber, door-to-door. No contest really!!

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21st September 2018

The message of your mural is quite clearly 'Don't Smoke in Bed !'

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