Day two: San Francisco

San Francisco ‘fog’ spoilt the view of the Golden Gate Bridge this morning. Thanks to an 8 hour time difference we were wide awake at 6am so drove over the bridge alongside hundreds of mad marathon runners. We ended up at the wrong end of the road we wanted, which was lucky as it brought us out at the base of the bridge; the ‘fog’ obscured the tops of the suspension towers, it was the best we were going to get right then. The two overlooks were a waste of time — total whiteout.

During a basic breakfast of pastries, cereal, hard boiled eggs and croissants we were given a great intro to San Francisco from the reception guy who took time out to detail all the bus, trolley and cable car routes plus a few tips and tricks for us. Graeme, of course, already knew a great deal of it but there were a couple of extra tidbits; for example the Star Wars Lucasfilm headquarters is literally across the road from the hotel: the museum is free to enter and displays some of the original costumes.

After buying our 3 day Muni passes (San Francisco Oyster cards) we took the electric bus to Fisherman’s Wharf. As it was Sunday and still early the shops etc were only just opening and there weren’t many people about. We did manage to buy a new camera battery though, they were open. It was chilly and the air quite damp. I was wishing I’d brought my raincoat, but it would have meant carrying that too later on. The views across the Bay to the Bridge, still shrouded in cloud, and Alcatraz island were great. I could have stayed there a while but we had a lot to see. We walked on to Pier 39, a winding boardwalk surrounded with shops and lots of people. Here we found the sea lions basking on floating rafts moored next to the Pier and marina. They looked very comfortable stretched out on floating wooden rafts like brown furry sardines in a row. Occasionally one would dive into the water or sit up and bark at length then another would join in.

A bus took us up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, one of two points with panoramic views over the city. The other is a tower in the Japanese tea gardens in Golden Gate park. $8 gives you a ride in the lift to the top with super views and the sun had come out to burn off the low cloud, it was getting warmer. My legs were beginning to disown me due to the 45 minute wait to get to the top.

They didn’t mind the 400 steps to the bottom of the hill, descending through gardens on either side. We passed whaat I can only describe as a giant lily tree with the flowers hanging down. By now my feet were complaining too but I kept my mind off them by capturing Pokémon as we walked along. By now it was sunny and hot and I was shedding layers, fine apart from my bag getting heavier as a result! The Pokémon here were pretty apt for the location — Magicarp, Pinsir and Krabby. I’ve also acquired a lot of Pokeballs as there were Pokestops one after another.

Lunch in the iconic Ferry Building, a large food market with cafes and a book shop, was a mozzarella and salami baguette washed down with a San Francisco egg cream soda, milk with flavoured soda. Odd, but quite refreshing in the heat. I think Graeme enjoyed his vanilla one more than I liked my raspberry.

China Town was our next stop. Shops selling souvenirs, grocery stores and restaurants. Chinese lanterns strung across the roads, lots of people and … hills. We’d successfully avoided them up till now. Still, the fortune cookie factory was worth popping into. Free samples and watching the little baked round cookies in their individual little ovens being folded in half with a fortune slip in, then folded in half again whilst still warm. China Town was full of Pokémon and Pokestops but my app kept crashing and I missed an Arbok as a result. Graeme patiently waited every time I said ooh there’s another one but I lost patience when the app kept white-screening.

The plan was to visit the crooked Street (Lombard) next but fate took a hand and the cable car we needed to get there was suspended due to a traffic accident. The choice was walk 6 blocks up a 12% incline to get there today or take a bus back to the hotel and go tomorrow. We chose the hotel…

We’d already decided where we were having dinner, a Mexican restaurant called Mamacita about 4 blocks from the hotel. We had a half hour wait for the table and got chatting to another British couple who had just been where we are about to go. The food was excellent but it was very noisy.

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