Thommo and Garret
The journey from Vancouver was ok but long, 26 hours!, customs was fine, in fact all the officer said to me was where are you going, I replied 'San Francisco' and he said 'go on then'! He didn’t even look at my passport that well! Not complaining though as it was a relief to get through quickly. Three people on the bus had to have their bags and everything searched though! I would be gutted if that happened to me, takes so long to get it all back in! We also met two girls who we had seen in Chicago, Faye and Elana, on the bus.
Anyway, I had heard so many high reviews of San Fran from people we had met along the way so I was a little bit worried that it would not live up to my expectations that have formed. How wrong was I. I absolutely loved this city! And I think Thommo did too. How lucky are we to go from one great city to the next!
We all set off from the bus terminal in search of our hostels. It turns out we were not staying far form each other at all, about
Golden Gate Park
Relaxing= Marcy, Garret, Thommo and Rob
a five minute walk. Thommo and I walked down the same street a few times until we found our hostel, the sign is small and as the owner does not want people that are not staying there hanging around outside. Once we got inside we had to climb four flights of steps!! What a killer with the bags! But it was worth it as the hostel was brilliant! It as quite small but the atmosphere was like none other we have stayed in. The staff were really helpful and friendly and there was a great mix of people staying there. The hostel was right on the edge of China Town, this China Town was the most impressive one I have seen in the States and we were told that this is the first of all of them.
After dumping our bags we headed out in search of a super market. The kitchen in the hostel was really good to cook in and I hoped that we would save some money. On the way out we met a fellow Brit , Gareth, and planned to meet up with him later. We had arranged to meet the girls we met on
the bus at their hostel for a few drinks. They had a live mic night and it was very entertaining! After seeing a few acts we headed to a bar around the corner which had a fantastic drinks promotion on. It is so expensive to drink so we were very glad of the cheap night!
The following day we walked around the piers and got our bearings of the city, the weather was great so we enjoyed a nice cold lemonade in a café at pier 23. Fisherman’s Wharf is very busy with people doing the same as we were. Lots of shops there and street entertainers etc. I brought some very expensive but delicious strawberries from one of the stalls. I did not expect the piers to be quite so geared towards tourists but it was nice to walk around and watch everyone enjoying the lovely weather. That evening the girls came to our hostel for a few drinks, we stayed there to save some money while most of the hostel went out. Girls I hope you had fun with everyone from the hostel, and also hope you enjoy Mexico!
In the morning we got up early
and ventured on a ferry to Alcatraz. This place was an experience. We did an audio tour around the prison and walked around some of the other buildings on the Island. The tour was very informative and we learnt about all of the attempted escapes and heard some accounts from the former inmates. It must have been so hard to be in there and see the wonderful views of San Fran just across the bay! We went to watch a short film about the place and then went into the book store. Darwin Coon was there signing his books, had to crab the opportunity for a photo with him. He is a former bank robber who spent about four years inside Alcatraz. I have yet to actually read the book though!! Plenty of time for that in Fiji.
After returning to the piers we had lunch in a Wipe-out café , nice fish. Then we climbed the steep streets up to Coit Tower and saw some amazing views of San Fran. I know it is cheesy going up lots of tall buildings but you really do get to see some amazing views over cities. We walked down the steep
hills and then up steep winding Lombard street. This street is crazy and unlike any I have ever seen before. But it makes a good attraction to see and many people were there taking photos. That evening we just stayed in again after I cooked dinner. We needed to save some energy for the next day!
We got up early again and went in search of some bikes to hire. We had heard that the best way to see the Golden Gate Bridge and the surroundings was to bike over it. So this is what we did. I have not ridden a bike for close to ten years so it was great fun trying not to wobble in front of cars! However saying that San Fran is a very bike friendly place with lots of bike lanes. But the exercise was very appreciated and my back managed to cope with it. It was so windy on the bridge, we were lucky it was a hot day though. Once we got to the other side of the bridge the journey was all down hill to the lovely sea side town of Sausalito. This town is very picturesque and reminded me
Garret, Jeremey and Thommo at the carnaval
quite a bit of England. We stopped for a drink in one of the pubs (Thommo managed to catch some sport on the TV) then chilled out on a large grassy area until it was time to catch the ferry back to San Fran. Was so glad we didn’t bike back up the hills, would have done me in for sure. I reckon we must have got up to about 30miles per hour on the way down them! Glad the brakes worked well!
We were very lucky to be in the city at the same time as the Carnaval! So the next morning we went to check it out. We being Thommo and I, Rob an Irish guy, Garret an American and Jeremy an Aussie and Charlie another American. We had a good time walking past all of the different stalls they had and watching a few performances of dance and song. Afterwards we walked for quite a while until we found a bus (Jeremy got us all on for free! Such charm) to take us to the famous area known as Haight Ashbury. This place was really nice, it is just near the Golden Gate Park and has
a very relaxed atmosphere. The guys went into the biggest record store I have ever seen. Amoeba Records houses every kind of music you can think of! We did make it to the park that day but we just sat in the sun for a while and then returned to the hostel to have dinner and chill out a bit.
The next day we (Thommo, me, Garret, Rob, Marcy and Fiona) headed back to the Carnaval to see the parade. This was great but a very hot day! There were 81 floats but we only stayed for half of that was it was taking a long time and we wanted to go back to the park to actually go inside and see some more of what it offers. So we walked to the bus again and after having lunch in Haight Ashbury we ventured further into the park. This place was awesome! We played a bit of Frisbee than found a large open part of the park where people were just jamming with lots of drums, a sitar and many other instruments. It appeared as though people were just walking up with the instruments and joining in. So we
watched for a good half and hour. I wanted to see the Japanese Tea gardens so we set of in search of this. On the way we came across an area with lots of people roller skating like it was a roller disco! We were later informed that this part of the park is known as Hippy Hill. It was great to watch though. After walking through the amazing Japanese Tea gardens we hopped on a bus to the beach. Golden Gate Park is massive!! And we only scratched the surface of it. The beach was fabulous however somewhat cold and windy! After walking around for a while and getting cold we returned via bus to the area we were staying in. Half way along our bus journey the drive just stopped and told us all to get off! We were not sure what bus to then get on but we just got on the next one that came along. This turned out really well actually as it took us closer to where we wanted to be!
I would love to return to this city one day and see lots of the things that we didn’t have time to
Amazing art work on the walls in the Misson area of San Fran
see this time around. We missed out on riding a cable car! But I gather it is just like a bus really.
We really enjoyed our time here and it was made special by all the people we met, thank you everyone that we spent time with.
Onwards to the bright lights of Las Vegas ……
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