Our flight path into the airpost at San Francisco took us over the bay with its islands and bridges and, of course, the icon of this part of the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. Was I impressed? I don’t know – you see something many times on the television, in films and pictures but there’s nothing quite like seeing it for yourself and it was to feature very much in the following day’s tours.
The flight outward was 9 ½ / 10 hours – we left at 2 p.m. our time and arrived at about 4.30 p.m. their time – so we were thankful for our excellent hotel, a freshen up before a quick meal and an early night.
The hotel served breakfast of course but our tour guide, Joanne, suggested we visit a little café in a street behind the hotel where a Chinese family served excellent breakfasts, better and much cheaper than the hotel, so a 9 o’clock start the next saw about ten of us sitting down around 8 a.m. to juice, lovely crispy bacon with eggs easy over, toast ,coffee and all the trimmings for around £4 our money. Then it was onto a San Francisco coach for a tour of the city. We had a special tour guide who told us a great deal about the city, so much that I can’t possibly remember it all, but the parts I most enjoyed were the older parts with the beautiful houses owned by celebrities, such as Danielle Steel. There were streets in this section where tour buses were not allowed to go but the totally varied architecture of the houses, leafy avenues and, of course, those spectacular hills made it one city I really enjoyed. The coach grounded at one junction. I’m not a city person really, much prefer the wide open spaces, but this was one city I loved and would enjoy exploring it more should we ever be lucky enough to go back again. (If we had had another day there we would have travelled the trams but later, when we tried to get on one from Fisherman’s Wharf, the queues were so long we gave up.)
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (Djokovic is out of Paris! Beaten in 2 sets by Llodra! – been watching while I write this and revive holiday memories!) We stopped at a viewpoint on the other side for inevitable photos of the bay, the bridge and the skyline of San Francisco. Then it was back across the bridge and up to the Golden Gate Park to stretch our legs a bit more. It is a delightful park and there are many features but the one we were closest to was the Japanese Tea Garden, very beautiful, and similar to one we went into on Darling Harbour, Sydney. Then it was on to Twin Peaks which stand above the city and, it is said, that the city was planned so that from Twin Peaks you could look straight up the Main Street. The weather was beautiful – no San Francisco fog – they say the autumn is the best time here. In fact it was warm, sunny and clear for most of our holiday. Then the coach took us to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’s waterfront and quite extensive. The photograph is of one of the boats which tour the Bay and we spent an hour or so here for lunch, although we were still full from breakfast and all we had was a delicious Ben & Jerry’s berry fruit sorbet. Then it was time for our tour of the Bay, an excellent way to see SF from a different view point and of course the bridges and Alcatraz Island. It was a thoroughly enjoyable tour and of course we had all the history of Alcatraz as we went round it. It is possible to land on some of the tours but I certainly not have wanted to walk all over it. Walking any distance is a problem for me as I have to keep stopping because my hips ache so, but I did manage to do quite a bit and, of course, Os went off on his own sometimes for short spells to take photos and seek out the places I might want to get to. I certainly enjoyed the boat trip and it was a chance to get to know a few of our coach companions and they were all a very companionable lot on this tour and increased our enjoyment of the whole experience.
Then it was back to Fisherman’s Wharf to spend the rest of the day as we pleased. Close by the boat wharf was Pier 39, a delightful collection of shops and restaurants on 3 levels which overlooked the famous sea lions, although these animals seem to be a feature up and down the coast here. These were a smelly lot too but well worth watching for a while. We enjoyed browsing round the shops on Pier 39, having a drink at a café and buying fruit at the fruit market.
We decided on a fairly early dinner and it was about 5.30 p.m. when we went into Neptune’s, a reasonably priced restaurant on the end of the pier which overlooked the bay. Our meal was delicious. Os had a seafood pasta and I had a medley of fish in very light breadcrumbs which seemed to hold every ounce of moisture, salmon, shrimps and a white fish and tasty chips plus a side salad. American meals are very generous and they usually offer you a bag to put in all you can’t eat. We overlooked a breakwater at the end of the pier and were well entertained by the pelicans diving off the breakwater and coming up with a beakfull of fish. We had seen that trams ran from the end of the pier and we thought we would make our way back to the hotel via a tram or two but the queue was lengthy and we sat and watched the comings and goings for a while and then decided on a taxi from the nearby rank. Enjoying yourself is a very tiring way of spending a day, it was 7.30 p.m. when we got back to the hotel and it was feet up on the enormous bed the Americans delight in in hotels and a spot of watching American TV. We were to be up at 6 the following morning, cases outside the door at 7 a.m. to leave at 8 a.m. after breakfast at the café.