We jump on the ‘Hop on-Hop off’ bus and almost immediately Steven, who is our tour guide today, delights us with fascinating info. Not just tourist or history information but little tidbits about living in this city, his favourite eateries, entry fees for places we pass. The must do’s and why. He even adds music from his phone and sings along to illustrate the era of what he is referring too. Now, it sounds tacky but he pulls it off. He’s funny but not over the top annoying and I love it. I tell Ren to write a review as he requests, and leave a tip as we reluctantly get off, but not before he tells us he will be on the evening tour tonight and we decide we will do that. Ren rolls her eyes. She’s had enough of tour stuff. I do think it’s been a lot of money and if we had got the map and then the local public transport map we could’ve done all this easily by ourselves but he has been great.
Apples new store here with huge opening doors. Not sure what happens on bad weather days, but today is glorious and the two levels are opened to the city.
The old and the new. Francis Coppola purchased this building where he could explore film making ‘his way’ and in the back ground, I hope I’m right in saying is the tallest building in San Francisco, with the pyramid shape. As I turned back and snapped it I smiled at the contrast of the two buildings.
Golden bridge built 1848 is an engineering feat with many challenges from the waterways and the wind.
Steven tells us repeatedly it will be cold during the crossing and I think, as its a glorious day, how cold can it be, but as we cross it’s absolutely freezing. The lady in front of us turns her head and says she can hardly breathe with the cold as she tries to slip behind her husbands back. I did something like the ‘brace yourself for a crash in an aeroplane’ and put my head as low as I could so the wind went over me but it was coming from all directions. The whole bridge was shrouded in fog, in stark contrast to the previous day when it was backdropped by a stunning blue sky.
I had looked out on our first day and said to Gilbert. I don’t know if that’s fog or smog but it’s weird if it’s smog just out there in the coastline. Turns out its fog. The fog is common during the summer and is caused by westerly breezes that push cold air inland to replace the warm air rising off California’s Central Valley. Sitting quite low it’s crazy but something the locals live with here in summer. We get off at Haight market and ‘yum’ is the word that springs to mind. California peaches cut up for tasting are full of sweet summer promise. “Eat local”, I remind the others, as at home I am careful to not choose California anything. I choose one and the other two dodos choose nectarines and neither like them. Not sharing my peach as I did warn them!
We enjoy browsing the shops and meet a couple who went to Alcatraz having booked it months in advance of their trip. Her family had worked in prisons and were fascinated by it on a previous trip but they seemed less impressed, and him especially. Alcatraz, meaning Pelicans in olden day Spanish was first used as a lighthouse point and then a fortress to protect the bay and then housing civil war prisoners from the 1860’s before becoming a federal prison from 1933-63. It was recognised as being impossible to escape from with its isolation and the dangerous waters surrounding it but it was more expensive to run and salt water was eroding the structure so was designated a national park. At this point a group of Native Americans took control of the Island for almost two years demanding it be returned to them and renovated to be used as a cultural centre. It didn’t happen and today it’s a historic site that the birds have taken sanctuary within. “So it’s full of bird shit, the girl tells us and it’s pretty disgusting.” Ewwww! I think I would’ve enjoyed it from a historic building point of view but feel better about not being able to get tickets now.
We jump on the night tour and Steven’s back in full swing in his role as tour guide but we get off at Pier 39 to visit Fog Harbour and sample the seafood delights. I’m glad I love seafood and the clam chowder is finger licking good. In our usual style we get one of each thing in the middle for all to share but at dessert time I taste the Crème Brûlée and I tell the other two, I’m not sharing this. Gilbert’s diving into an apple pie and agrees he’s happy not to share too, as does Ren. We’re about an hours walk from home and decide to walk it off rather than jump on a bus or tram.