United States
Fisherman's Wharf

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    • Day 17

      All Around San Fran

      September 15, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      This has been our final day in San Francisco and we attempted to cover just a few high points of the city. A difficult feat, when in truth you would need to be here a month to come close. Getting around is reasonably easy, as there are a multitude of public transport options. We started off with a trolley bus to market street, which is the main commercial street, walked two blocks north to Union Square. Here you have Saks Fifth Avenue on one side, Macy’s opposite, Tiffany’s to the left and The Francis Hotel on the only side left. Window shopping is by far the best option! We picked up a bus to the Golden Gate Park. This a huge green space bigger than and based on Central Park in New York. This part of the city was originally sand dunes, before being reclaimed and stabilised with natural flora. With in its bounds are the California Academy of Science, the deYoung Museum, a Bison paddock, yes with real bison in it, a large Kew style conservatory, the Botanic Gardens the Japanese Tea Gardens. We neither had the time or energy to explore all, but did our best to cover a small section! Being garden lovers, I suppose it was inevitable that we would eventually gravitate towards the Japanese Tea Garden. It is a legacy from the Midwinter Fair of 1894. It was beautifully landscaped by the Hagiwara family, who looked after the garden until the advent of World War 11, when like all Japanese Americans they were interned and after the war the city would not let them return. Fortunately, their beautiful creation has continued to be be nurtured and has matured into the largest such garden outside of Japan.
      Tired out, we caught the Big Red Bus back towards Fisherman’s Wharf via downtown. ‘Oh look’ says Peter ‘a shop called Good Vibrations-
      after the blog!’ ‘Not a total surprise’ says I, ‘this is California and being a Beach Boys fan, I named it after one of their songs that would set the scene’. It was only as we drew closer that I thought the window display seemed rather odd and on closer examination the wording over the door became readable. Here was the San Francisco Museum of Vibrators! You will probably not be surprised to hear that we did not jump off the bus to investigate further. A final supper at Scoma (very good seafood restaurant in the fishing marina) beckoned and somehow seemed more appealing. A quirky place San Fran, as stated in an earlier episode!!
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    • Day 16


      September 14, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      A mile out into San Francisco Bay lies a rocky outcrop known the world over as Alcatraz Island. It has a long and notorious history and began life as a civil war fort in the 1850s, built by the US Army as part of its western defence plan against Confederate raiders. By the 1900s the civil war was long gone and it’s defences had become obsolete, so it was decommissioned, but Alcatraz has been a prison since those early days both for Confederate soldiers, Yankee deserters and Native American warriors captured during the the various Indian Wars. It was not until the Great Depression of the 1930s that the Department of Justice took over responsibility for Alcatraz, opening it as a Federal Penitentiary
      In 1934. Of the 1545 men who did time on Alcatraz, only a handful were notorious, among them Al ‘Scarface’ Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis and Robert Stroud ‘ the Birdman of Alcatraz’. The vast majority of the inmates had been escape risks and troublemakers in other prison populations. Possibly because of its isolation, few visitors and secrecy, Alcatraz earned the reputation of being tough and with miserable living conditions. Certainly the routine was hard and the building stark and bleak, this being a maximum security facility, but it was clean and the food good. Only 14 prisoners ever attempted to escape and none succeeded. Prisoners arrived in chains and were issued with a blue uniform after showering and taken to their 9’ by 5’ cell. On the bed were the rules and regulations of the prison and
      No 5 stated “You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege.” This was the reality of life within the toughest of US Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island.
      The island is now a National Park and managed accordingly. There are over a million visitors annually. Your journey begins at Pier 33 along with a boat full of visitors and the journey across the bay takes approximately 10 minutes. The crossing is choppy, currents vicious, the water cold and the island is foreboding on approach. The concrete cell block sits high on the citadel of the island with a variety of facilities placed around it. There are electrical sheds, the guardhouse, military chapel, a morgue, a lighthouse, the warden’s house, a general store and officers club, barracks and apartments for the guards and their families and perhaps most surprising of all gardens, planted by the families who lived here in a tight, small, village like community. Most of these are now in quite a dilapidated condition and as you make your way up the long steep walk to the cell block, it is hard to imagine children playing and normal life continuing around this Penitentiary, so far removed from everyday living. As part of your visit you are given an audio guide which is first class in the picture it paints of life here and the inmates incarcerated within.
      I was reminded of our visit to Robyn Island off Cape Town, although there the conditions were undoubtedly harsher, but the principle is the same. In each cell is a lavatory, a rudimentary bed, blankets and pillow, a metal stool attached to the wall and a similar small ledge like table.
      No personal belongings were allowed unless you complied and behaved, when some privileges were then introduced. Two communal showers were allowed per week and meals were taken leg shackled in the dining room, where you had 20 minutes to eat your meal. The wind whistles through the building at all times and bad behaviour resulted in solitary confinement or even locking up in one of the six hell holes permanently in the dark. It is chilling, but men found ways to survive and cope. Surprisingly, bridge was a popular occupation and those men allowed to do so, would spend hours outside in the cold quadrangle playing.
      In many ways, I think one of the most difficult aspects of being imprisoned here would have been the close proximity to one of the liveliest and attractive cities in the USA. The views across to the mainland, the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge are beautiful and it is said that on New Years Eve after lights out at 9.30, the inmates could hear the revelry onshore, voices and laughter carried out on the wind, only reminding them of their isolation. The prison was closed in 1963 by the then Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, due to increasing costs and maintenance. This was a fascinating visit, well worth making and we arrived back on the Wharf perhaps rather more thoughtful than we had left. In search of a restorative cup of coffee we came across the latest dog episode. A seemingly normal couple pushing a largish brown bull dog type dog in a candy pink pushchair, with matching harness and frilly headpiece. If I had had the nerve, I would have asked if I could have taken a photograph, but feared I would have been unable to keep a straight face!
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    • Day 15

      San Francisco an Overview

      September 13, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

      Rome is built on seven hills, goodness knows how many make up San Francisco and they are seriously steep. In particular The Lombard St crooked street of Steve McQueen car chase fame! We have had the bad luck to be here in the week that the cable cars are out of commission for an overhaul, so sadly no cable car ride. As a consequence we took the Big Bus tour to give us an overview of the city, which did the job, but was excruciatingly hot (in the 90s today) on the top deck and filled with really irritating people who seemed unable to sit still for more than five minutes at a time. I know, I’m being unreasonable, but every time I had a photo opportunity some sweet soul jumped up in front of me, but some photos did come out as you will see. At the end of the three hour trip it was back to the hotel for a cool down. It is apparently going to be much cooler tomorrow.
      The San Franciscans are very proud of their home as a city of charm and culture. They are not wrong. It is quirky and In general I like it. Like all big cities there are parts that are less than salubrious and they clearly have a huge homeless problem, particularly in certain areas. Fisherman’s Wharf is rather too like an upmarket Gt Yarmouth for my taste, but the seafood is divine.
      The architecture around the city is outstanding from all eras and the buildings sit juxtaposed to one another with great effect. There are still some pre Earthquake and lots from the twenties and thirties. Downtown and the Financial District are ultra modern and there is the largest China Town here in the USA. Haight-Ashbury is as attractive and bohemian as you would imagine the home of flower power and the hippie culture to be. This a very green city. Trees line the streets and there are parks everywhere. The Golden Gate Park is larger than Central Park in New York. There is an very classical Opera House, Ballet Theatre and a brand new Symphony Hall built in the shape of a Grand Piano, key windows and all. As you approach the Golden Gate Bridge, the breeze picks up and the temperature drops. Once on the bridge itself, you need to hold on to your hat and anything else that may be taken by the wind. It is as spectacular a structure close to and from a distance, in its rust coloured glory. (Apparently, this colour is called international orange?! ). I can see why it has become iconic. The views are magnificent and on a majestic scale; looking back towards city, the Wharfs and out to the open ocean. A plethora of little sailing boats cut backwards and forwards, together with larger sea going vessels on their way to goodness knows where. The Bay is made up of a variety of microclimates due to the interaction of the landforms and the sea and whilst it was 80 degrees on the Golden Gate Bridge, it was 93 on the Wharfs and 105 in East Bay. It has a reputation here, similar to the UK, in that you could experience all four seasons in one day. At the moment though it is definitely Indian Summer and this is normal apparently. You are unlikely to suffer the sea fog that can blight the earlier summer months. Having said that we haven’t lost the chance!
      There is much talk of this being the most expensive city to live in, rental and real estate wise. Rents are high and some of the beautiful houses change hands for millions it is true, but the same could be said of Chelsea and Knightsbridge. I suspect it is like many a prosperous city (and it is riding a techno bubble at the moment), it is the place to be and the law of supply and demand rules.
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    • Day 20

      San Francisco

      November 21, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      Aufgestanden,gefrühstückt und dann los zum Union Square. Mein Hostel liegt super zentral in Downtown und von dort kann man super in jede Ecke von San Francisco LAUFEN. Ich habe es so vermisst, denn in LA und in San Diego waren alle Stadtteile so weit voneinander entfernt, dass man ständig mit Bussen,Zügen usw fahren musste und das hat immer ewig gedauert. Jetzt in San Francisco fühlt es sich wieder so an wie in New York. Generell muss ich sagen, dass mich vieles hier an New York erinnert. Besonders Downtown sieht aus wie ein kleines New York, der einzige Unterschied: alles ist kleiner (bzw 30 Stockwerke kleiner). Dann bin ich vom Union Square durch Chinatown und little italy zum Washington square park geschlendert. Es war wirklich super schön und zudem hatte ich mal wieder super Glück mit dem Wetter. Dann weiter die Columbus Avenue hoch und auf die Lombard street, welche weltbekannt ist, da sie angeblich die kurvigste Straße auf der Welt ist und dazu ist sie auch noch super steil-ich war mega fertig als ich oben ankam. Von dort ging es die Hyde street hoch zum fishermans wharf, welches wirklich sehr schön war aber ich glaube mehr was für fischfreunde ist. Dafür sind auf der Hyde street, also auf der Fläche zwischen Lombard street und Küste sehr viele super süße Häuser, eines niedlicher als das andere. Genau das gefällt mir so gut an San Francisco, es ist etwas zwischen Großstadt und Kleinstadt und das nicht von der Größe sondern von der Art her. Denn man hat Downtown, was New York so ähnlich ist (das totale Großstadt feeling) gleichzeitig hat es aber auch Stadtteile welche viele süße kleine Häuser hat und sehr übersichtlich ist. Der perfekte Mix. Dann bin ich mit dem Bus zurück zum Hostel, da ich Besuch von einem Freund bekommen habe.Read more

    • Day 206

      San Francisco - Tag 2

      July 25, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

      Heute sollte es viel Arbeit für die Füße geben. Unser Plan: Die Stadt zu Fuß erkunden. Begonnen wurde mit China Town. Dort angekommen gingen wir durch ein typisch chinesisch aussehendes Tor, um in die Straßen des Viertels zu gelangen. Es gab unglaublich viele kitschige Asia Läden mit allem möglichen Krimskrams. Aber auch traditionelle Läden mit schönen Andenken und hübschen Kleidern. Dazwischen natürlich eine Menge Restaurants mit asiatischer Küche inklusive großer Bilder der Gerichte an den Fenstern. Dazu waren Lampions zwischen den Häusern gespannt. Wie man sich das halt so vorstellt.

      Nach einigem Gestöber in den Straßen von China, entdeckten wir ein pyramidenförmiges Gebäude etwas weiter entfernt. Das war sehr auffällig und wir wollten dorthin, um mal den Ausblick von ganz oben zu genießen. Also hin da. Dort angekommen gestaltete sich das "mal eben rauf zum Gucken" nicht so einfach. Es handelte sich bei dem Gebäude, um ein Bürogebäude namens "Transamerica Pyramid". Die Security erzählte uns, dass man seit dem 11. September bei diesem Gebäude nicht mehr als Tourist rein darf. Aber man könnte den tollen Ausblick auf einem Fernseher um die Ecke sehen und davon dann ein Selfie mit sich machen. Ein Selfie mit einem Fernseher? Oh man nee danke. Naja gut, dann weiter spazieren.

      Nächstes Ziel war nach China und der Pyramide dann Little Italy. Dort hatten wir dann auch Hunger und haben lecker Pasta und Pizza gefuttert.

      Da wir heute noch nicht den gewünschten Ausblick von oben hatten, gingen wir Straßen mit gutem Anstieg zum Coit Tower. Dieser Aussichtsturm ist 64 Meter hoch und steht auf dem Telegraph Hill. Ein schöner Ausblick auf die ganze Stadt war die Belohnung. Es gibt ganz schön viele Dachterrassen wie sich herausstellte. Und es gab eine Blick auf die Golden Gate Bridge, zeitweise ohne Wolken.

      Da wir nun schon so weit gelaufen waren, konnten wir auch nochmal ganz bis zum Wasser gehen und uns Fishermans Warf nochmal genau anschauen. Unser Highlight war der Bubba Gump Merchandise Laden. Wer den Film Forrest Gump kennt, weiß bescheid. Wer ihn nicht kennt, sollte den Film spätestens jetzt mal gucken. Klassiker. Auf die Freude gabs zur Krönung noch eine Kugel Eis. Top.

      Und was muss man unbedingt machen, wenn man in San Francisco ist? Genau! Cable Car fahren! Die Kabelstrassenbahn wird, wie der Name bereits vermuten lässt von einem Kabel angetrieben. Dieses Kabel liegt in einer Schiene in der Straße. Durch 2 Hebel im Wagen, gibt es Greifer, die das ständig rotierende Kabel greifen und damit den Wagen in Bewegung setzen. Die Cable Car in San Francisco ist übrigens die einzig verbliebene Kabelstrassenbahn der Welt mit entkoppelbaren Wagen. Die Fahrt ist ein heiden Spaß und man sieht die Stadt auf eine tolle Art und Weise. Voll zu empfehlen.

      Dann hatten wir auch schon wieder Hunger und gingen in einen Diner. Mit roten Bänken und viel amerikanischer Deko. Richtig schön typisch amerikanisch. Danach gabs noch ein Absacker-Bier unten in der Bar des Hotels von Kirsten und Frank.

      Als Abendprogramm sollte es (mal wieder) Wiedersehensfreude geben. Julias ehemaliger Arbeitskollege Eike arbeitet seit über einem halben Jahr in San Francisco. Da musste natürlich ein Treffen drin sein. Seine Mini-Wohnung lag im Financial District und somit fußläufig zu unserem Hotel. Ein Liquor Store lag direkt unter der Wohnung, wie praktisch. Die Nachbarn, sowie die sanitären Anlagen aufm Flur waren etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig, aber was tut man nicht alles für eine Wohnung in der Stadt zu einem einigermaßen bezahlbaren Preis. Wir hatten eine top Zeit zusammen und tranken Heineken in der Wohnung und auf dem Dach des Gebäudes im 8. Stock. Wir hatten uns viel zu erzählen und so erreichten wir unser Hotel auch erst um 2 Uhr nachts. Was für ein toller Tag. Gute Nacht!
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    • Day 4

      San Francisco - Tag 3

      September 9, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Dank ungewollter Ticketaufwertung konnten wir heute nach Sausalito fahren - ein kleiner Ort auf der anderen Seite der San Francisco Bay. Vom Busfahrer als "Côte d'Azur" der USA bezeichnet war es hier deutlich wärmer als an der Brücke, obwohl ganz in der Nähe. Auf dem Rückweg nach Downtown fiel uns wieder auf, dass es um die Brücke herum einfach immer kühl und neblig ist, einen Kilometer weiter aber schon wieder bestes Wetter ist. Dieses Mikroklima ist wohl typisch von San Francisco, genau wie die wabernden Nebelschwaden. Abends warteten wir in Fishermans Wharf auf den Beginn unserer Bus-Nachttour. Das ehemalige Hafenviertel ist totaler Komerz, typisch "amerikanisch" halt. Windelwechsel war zwischen trompetenden Elefanten im "Rainforest-Café", total abgefahren. Morgen soll das Wetter an unserem letzten Tag in San Francisco noch besser werden, mal schauen was wir in dieser faszinierenden Stadt noch so erleben werden.Read more

    • Day 8

      Nochmal zum Fischermans Wharf

      August 25, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      Sind nochmal zum Wharf um eine Bootsfahrt zu machen. Das Wetter in San Francisco war zwar super.. aber die Bay zwischen Golden Gate und Alcatraz lag im Nebel. Daher haben wir uns dagegen entschieden, haben ne kleknigkekt gegessen und sind dann Richtung Zug um nach Oakland zu fahren, um uns mit Sören zu treffen.Read more

    • Day 1

      San Francisco Day 1

      April 29, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      Apologies those waiting for the penguin app to ding (donkey & gma), but we have been so busy, sleep was more important!!
      After a long flight, we made it to the hotel!!!! Got early check in which was awesome! After only 1 1/2 hour sleep on the plane, once we showered and changed we were ready to go again! Made our way to Pier 39 and checked out the famous seal! Courtney your noice rage would be peaking.....they were so noisy but also pretty cute. We went on a carousel cause that’s why big kids do.
      We decided the best way to see everything easily would be to get on the double decker hop on & off buses. We got to see pretty much all everything on our sightseeing list!
      Got off at Alamo Square and saw the ‘Painted Ladies’ and had a Full House moment which was pretty cool.
      Completed the loop on the bus, heading over the Golden Gate Bridge. We sat on the top of the bus cause that’s what tourists do.....it was sooooooo windy. Seany I was a bit nervous on the open top so bike riding the next day, was gonna be interesting...was great to have a photo with something that you see in so many movies and shows!
      Next was the crooked ‘Lombard Street!’ In Summer apparently 350 cars line up per hour to drive down it!!
      Then it was back to the hotel for some dinner and a quick change and then off The Fillmore for Zara Larson concert which was a great night!!
      When my head finally hit the pillow, after it being about 4pm Tuesday Aussie time & 17,000 steps. I was out in less than 2 minutes!!!
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    • Day 5

      Fishermans Wharf

      August 22, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      Es ist zwar nicht super warm, da es sehr windig ist an der Bay, Aber wir hsben uns trotzdem umgeschsut. sehr touristen mässig.. Aber wir konnten aus der ferne die Golden Gate Bridge sehen und Alcatraz.Read more

    • Day 16

      San Francisco

      May 1, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      Arrived in San Francisco to meet Alex.

      Didn't have a very busy start to the holiday, but to keep Alex entertained I must have animals.

      Today's we rode a tram, went into a submarine, saw some sea lions and met up with Rachel/Rebecca (ex-work friend) to take her dog lucky for a walk.Read more

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