Monday, July 28, 2008

Loads more catch up and tieing up ends


Its so hot I have really not felt like sitting on the computer blogging. So I have not been keeping my blog 'diary that up to date. Thank goodness for cameras! Mind - mine has been through the mill a little lately, but I will come to that later.

As well as all the every day stuff I still have two days of our USA trip - so long ago now - to record. Lets get that out the way first.

Thursday 4th June 2008
Still in San Francisco

This morning we chose the ihop for breakfast as we had seen the new pancakes advertised on the telly the night before. We hadn't realised that they actually came free with a main cooked, so with more bottomless coffee cups we came out fully stuffed again.

It was our last full day so time to mop up all the sights we hadn't seen. A bus took us to Pier 39, which on first sight seemed nothing more than a tourist trap, full of souvenir shops and restaurants.
Then, as we were looking out to sea at the island of Alcatraz we heard this strange noise. Following our ears around the corner we saw ......

This is what comes of not reading the tour book - well lets face it, the thing had led us wrong several times. These darling treasures are a landmark of the city and we were totally ignorant of the fact.

We stood for quite a while watching their antics, the males were very territorial and there was lots of fun as each pushed other males off each platoon to gain the upper footing in the colony.

Surprisingly San Fran is a very windy city and even though it was our final day, I didn't want to go home not having bought anything at all, so we walked back to Fisherman's Wharf where we bought a (pink) fleece for me complete with matching (pink) baseball cap. Martin got a hat too, and I am glad we did because we ended up out in the sun all day and would have been very burnt without them.

We finally got to walk round Boudin's and enjoyed a pleasant time looking round some of the small art galleries too - not really our scene but it was out of the wind and sun and very restful.

We realised that we could use the F line bus route on our Muni cards as well as the street and cable cars, and overhearing someone say that the shopping was good on the Haight, grabbed one to take the long trip out there. The trouble was you had to change buses and as we stood at the bus stop waiting for the final leg bus to arrive we both remembered something that had happened in the square a couple of days before.

We had been on our way back to the hotel and were changing cable cars. As we stood on the corner deciding which way to go a lovely black guy called Lamont had started to chat to us. At first we thought he was drunk or selling stuff but it turns out that he had come to SF from New Orleans after loosing his home and every thing else in Hurricane Katrina. He had come to live here as he had a lady friend living here, but that had not worked out (he told us) so he was making a living 'selling' information to tourists - I have to say there was no hard sell, he gave us all the info and only asked that if we thought the info worth anything it was up to us to decide. Anyway through out the talk, he had insisted that we didn't go further in 'that' direction as it was a bad place. Lamont was a lovely guy and he didn't steer us wrong. Guess where the bus change point was? Yes, and I tell you standing there was pretty scary. Consequently we grabbed the bus going back the other way, just enjoying the sights from the window.

We got off to take a look at this building though -
in sharp contrast to the refugees, unemployed and homeless only a couple of blocks away, San Francisco city hall is very imposing and opulent.

Back safe in Union Square we enjoyed a drink before going back to our hotel to finish up the last of any goodies we had bought (muffins, coke, crisps etc), and an afternoon nap in the hopes of being awake enough to see some nightlife.

It didnt work though. After a steak in Jack's bar we were still tired and ended up returning early still worn out from sun and touring.

Friday 5th June

Determined not to go home empty handed I asked Martin if we could go find some shops on our way out to the airport. Our plane did not leave until 5 so we had quite a while to do this, it was just a case of finding where the shops I wanted were. Our room contained a telephone book and although I had not found any listed I was undetered.

So another huge brekkie in ihop again (pancakes still free as a side) and then took a leisurly time to pack and book out. We set off finding our way out and then managed to find ourselves on the I-101 again, this time heading south. It wasnt a bit we had travelled on before, and finally we got to see some of the beautiful coast line. No shops, but some lovely little villages and sweeping beaches.

Of course I could see Martin had abandoned all idea of any shopping, and the further he explored the coast line the further from the airport (and any chance of a road going in that direction) became. After a few heated words, he turned inland and we eventually ended up at the airport waaaay too early. A lovely Texan lady showed us how to ignore all the one way signs and get to the checking in taking only half the time and distance. As we had found throughout our trip, our accent made Americans stop and talk to us.

Although it had seemed like we had arrived way too early for our plane it passed quickly and soon we were taking our final look out the plane window as we left USA behind.

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