Sunday, 7 August 2011

Day 17: Journey's End!!

Up and off to the Exploratorium again.  Hopefully there won’t be a special day today at it. 

Nope we’re fine and use the Citypass to get in.  I love this hands’ on science place.  It’s great.  If they had one in Edinburgh, I would work there!

We play for with the exhibits for a few hours and as it’s getting busy we head off.  Now the Exploratorium is moving in 2013 to its new home on Pier 15-17. 
Playing about.

Like Alice in Wonderland!
Palace Of Fine Arts


So iconic in San Francisco.
Drive round to Crissy Field and have a walk to the pier. 

City from Crissy Fields.

Holding up the bridge.

Nice clear day.

You taking my picture!


Playing in the water.

On the way back to collect our luggage from the hotel we stop to have lunch at Taco Bell for the last time.  Much prefer this to McD’s back home.  Need them back home.

We drive up and over Lombard Street and onto Coit Tower.  Find a parking place up at the tower, but the queue for it was too long to go up. 
Lombard St on Sally Sat-Nav.

Going down.

At the bottom.
From a distance.
Coit Tower.

Said to be modelled on a firemans hose!

The Bay Bridge.
Head off to finally get our luggage and squeeze it all into the car and depart for the airport.

Drop the girls off at the airport with the luggage before I head back to drop the car off at the returns.  The car safely booked back in, I grab the monorail back to the airport to find the girls and check-in.  It’s not open yet, so wait for nearly an hour.  Checked in and off to the lounge to have our tea as it’s a night flight and I just sleep to try and adjust right away, plus we’re driving back from Heathrow. 

On the plane we find all the weirdo’s are in our part of the cabin.  Strange American lady, first time Upper Class flyers who take photos of everything and laugh and shout all night.  Strange bloke next to me who appears to be having nightmares and screams out during the night.  He also strips down to just his PJ bottoms!  Strange American Lady exercises during the night too!

Fast forward to Heathrow where one of our bags never arrives and we find out a bag had been tagged twice, so it’s off up the motorway system to West Lothian minus a bag.  The bag has arrived at Heathrow on Sunday and making its way up North soon.

Day 16: More Sightseeing.

It’s Monday and we have planned to go to the Exploratorium this morning, so get the car and drive over to the Palace Of Fine Arts.  Arrive and find it’s closed to the public on Mondays. 
Should have read the back of the tickets!!

Back in the car and drive off to Twin Peaks to get a view of the city. 
Market Street

Golden Gate

 After some photo’s, it’s off to Fisherman’s Wharf again to go to the Aquarium on the Bay.  This is also part of the CityPass.  We look at the exhibits upstairs and then off down to the tunnels, but wait, there’s a hitch.  Only lifts down, so Denise can’t come, but we get a text to say staff have taken her down the stairs and we meet up with her. 
We go round the two tunnels, but the moving walkway is not working :-(
It’s back up the lift for two of us and the stairs for the other. 
Nice sunny wharf area.

We have really nice fish and chips for lunch down on the wharf and it's all tastes better as it's lovely and sunny.

Back to the car and off to the hotel.

Off to see The Smurfs at the cinema this afternoon.  Walk down to the Embarcadero for the pictures.
Much cheaper than the UK again.  Only $50 for 3 for 3D and juice and sweets.

After the moves, predictable, but all good fun we head back to base.

For tea we walk up to Chinatown again and get a take-away.  Chinese in cardboard boxes!!  No foil or plastic tubs for America.  Nice rice and Sesame Chicken and Chow-Mein.

Watch a bit of TV after our tea and then  off to bed.

Day 15: San Francisco More Sight-Seeing

Up early again and have breakfast the the room.  We head off over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. 

Park the car and go for a walk along the shore.  We grab a tea from a Starbucks.  Whilst sitting watching the bay, we notice a father and son fishing.  The son is trying to land a fish he has caught.  It turns out to be a small shark!  It looks like a Dogfish to me.
A bit overcast today.

Looking back over the bay.

Surf's up!!


Off to the car and onto John Muir National Park.  It’s heaving as it’s a Sunday.  The nearest parking space is nearly two miles away, so we give this up as a bad idea and head back to San Francisco. 

More of the bridge.

Just like a smaller version of the Forth Bridge, but in red!

 Stop at iHop on the way back to have lunch.  Yummy!

Back to the hotel and have a bit of shopping round Union Square. 

Off to Alcatraz for the night tour.  We were advised to be there an hour early as the marathon had been on, but arrive and find no diversions, so have ages to wait on the ferry. 

The ferry does a quick tour of the island and then it docks.  The boat is split into 3 groups and we are in the middle one.  Our guide takes us up the hill stopping on the way to give us some information, but really it’s just to stall us for the audio tour.  At the top we get our audio tour and start it.  It’s busy going round the jail.  Because it’s summer it’s not dark and as scary as we thought the tour would be.  The audio tour has changed since our last visit.  It does miss a few things out now though.  The exercise yard is closed.  We finish the tour and have a wander and purchase a few items in the shop before walking down to the dock to wait of the ferry home.  10 mins later we’re back on land and walk to the car and back home to the hotel.
Getting closer.

Alcatraz Lighthouse.

I see lots of cells.

The morgue.

Shower room!

Typical cell.

Bad Boy wing & Solitary.

Gun tower at the dock.

Reminants of the Indian Occupation.

Looks very run down for a major tourist attraction.

Looking back to the city.

Day 14: San Francisco Sight-Seeing

Up early today. 
We have forgotten just how noisy it is in the heart of San Francisco. 
At 2am a club appears to empty onto the street below. 
At 4am the first lot of rubbish bins are emptied. 
At 5am the next bins are emptied. 
At 6am hotel Doormen start using their whistle for taxi cabs!!

So, we head off for the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park for it opening at 9am.
Call down to the valet to have the car readied whilst the last bits and pieces are organised for our outings today. 
Sally Sat-Nav is switched on and it appears that she's working better today.  It must be due to the fact that it's only 72°C this morning and she's nice and chilled. She's even taking a charge and not just running off the car power!
I have a good idea of how to get to Golden Gate Park and notice Sally is guiding me correctly!

We park the car in the underground car park and head up to the Academy of Sciences.

We have to exchange our City-Pass voucher for our booklets which the assistant on the desk doesn't know how to so, so a supervisor is called.  Within a minute we have 3 San Francisco City-Pass booklets in our hands and exchange the Academy one for entrance.  It's fairly busy outside today, so we enter and as we've never been here before just wander about the first level and have breakfast at the cafe.  Ouch.  Very dear for banana cake and teas!

I get us tickets for the 10;30am showing at the Planetarium.  This is a new show for the weekends that is to show the universe in it's context of size.  It always blows my mind to think how big and old the universe is! 

After the show, we go up to the Living Roof to see the views from it and the roof its self.

De Young Museum

Part of the Living Roof.
Back down stairs to visit the rest of the exhibits and then down to the basement to the aquarium.
Entrance Area.

Exhibit beside the Biodome.

We have a wander round the aquarium area and then leave the Academy to go over to the Japanese Tea Garden.
Wedding Party Photos

Bride & Groom.

California Academy Of Sciences

Japanese Tea Garden Entrance
There is now an entrance charge for this.  Never paid before!  We were just going to have a wander, so not willing to pay $30 for this privilege.  We grab a hot dog and watch an Asian wedding party having their photos taken.  Always seem to see weddings here.  Must be good luck to get them taken at the Tea Garden.

Jump back into the car and off to the hotel to drop it off before heading up to Chinatown.
Chinatown entrance.

We wander through Chinatown buying a few knick knacks.  When we reach Little Italy we wait on a bus to take us down to Fisherman's Wharf.

As its a Saturday the Wharf and area is heaving.  We purchase the dearest ice cream cones ever and sit down at the back of the pier in a nice quiet spot to eat them. 
Marina view whilst eating ice cream
Have a walk around the wharf, buying some gifts. 

Alcatraz from Pier

The Sealions are back!!

We walk along the front toward Ripley's Believe It Or Not as Meghan wants to see it.  Denise gets caught by the Living Tree yet again.  Three visits in a row!!
Ripley's in good.  So much cheaper than the one in London.

Meg did the tongue rolling bit and later found out the true meaning of it.  Not happy!!

After Ripley's we walk along to Ghirardelli Square.
Meg seven years after the last time.

We have a walk back along the other side of the front back to the wharf.  We wait on the bus to go back to Union Square, get on it, but get off near Chinatown as they are playing sardines in a can with us.  We walk back through real Chinatown, with shops selling live fish and every part of an animal.  The smells are a bit intense at some parts.

We arrive back at the hotel and drop off our purchases and head out for tea.  We buy some pizza and salad and take this back to our room to eat and relax.