San Francisco, CA
Today we have been on an all-day tour with Tower Tours, with the idea being to get as much out of the city as possible in the small time we have here. The shuttle picked us up outside our motel at 8.20am on the dot and took us to the staging post at the harbour. There we boarded a bigger bus with more people and set off at 9am. The city itself was cloudy and cool this morning and the harbour was shrouded in fog. The bad news is that it made the Golden Gate Bridge invisible. I can tell you that we have stood at the Golden Gate overlook and that we have crossed the bridge not once, but twice, but I haven’t yet seen it! The driver promised to go back if the fog lifted but sadly it hadn’t by the time we left the bus. I’ll have to have a crack myself later.
The weather was clearing in the rest of the city though and by 10.30am we were in the sunshine. The tour basically took in all the major SF landmarks, some of which we had heard of, some of which we hadn’t. There’s pictures here of a lot of them. Main things I noticed were that; Haight-Ashbury was a lot smaller than I thought it would be – did the countercultural revolution really start here? Some of those streets are STEEP, yikes. Aren’t San Franciscians laid back drivers? Are those people in Halloween costume or do they dress like that all the time?
At 12.15 the driver dropped us at Pier 33 for the ferry to Alcatraz. This was included in the tour, so we had time to collect the tickets and have some lunch before the ferry left at 1pm. The crossing to ‘The Rock’ is only about 10 mins, but gives some lovely views of the harbour, including a Golden Gate Bridge slowly emerging from the fog. On Alcatraz a group of Civil War re-enactors are doing some re-enacting (the island was a military garrison and fort before it became a prison). There is a 1/4 mile uphill hike to the cellblock, but they have a wee electric train thingy for Wendy, which is good. Not so good for me, forced to walk. The whole tour round the prison is self-guided with an audio commentary. It’s very, very good indeed and takes about 2 hours to go round. Some of the views across the bay are also pretty spectacular. The fog has of course completely gone by now.
We catch the 3.30pm boat back to the harbour, which gives us time for an amble down to the Hard Rock Cafe at Pier 39 and tea. Groan, too much food there. It’s also Halloween, so all the staff are in fancy dress. We are served by a cheerleader, which is nice (for me, anyway). We time it perfectly so we only have to wait 10 mins or so for our shuttle back to the motel. 10 hours exactly we’ve been gone and one of us at least is pretty jiggered. Wendy is apparently tired too!