Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 3 - San Francisco

Beautiful soft rain and grey skies today; a fog covering various sections of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The floral displays in the garden beds and pots around the pier were magnificent, with colourful tulips in full bloom.

We explored Pier 38, delighting in Bubba Gump Shrimps, saltwater taffy in overflowing wooden barrels, and famous Ghirardelli chocolate stores.

The sea lions of Pier 39

We ventured out on a Blue and Gold 1-hour ferry loop around the Bay, with views of the City en route to the Golden Gate Bridge. The water became rougher and the wind stronger and colder as the bridge got closer and the rain closed in.

From a distance, much of the bridge was covered in fog, but as we closed in and stopped right under span, the sight of the stretching spans to left and right were awesome in size and detail.

Looking up, cars looked like matchbox toys. Looking down was the clashing and meshing of ocean and bay waters as they collided in a rip, inviting sea sickness. Just in the nick of time, the boat was underway again. Soon we passed Alcatraz, close to the island's shore, before returning to the docks.

Again we ate at Capurro's. Daniel had calamari which came with 9 crumbed baby octopuses which he gave to me. I chose Dungeness crab cakes and vegies.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 2 [continued] - San Francisco


Steam tug Hercules

First sights of San Francisco included:

~A stroll along the historic Hyde St Pier, the old ferry pier which is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. A variety of historical ships are moored there for viewing - and for exploring.

~First glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, portions of its mighty structure rising through the fog.

~Musee Mecanique, one of the world's largest (over 200) privately owned collection of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines in their original working condition. For 50 cents, you can play them!

~Fishermen's Grotto, the fish markets, clam chowder, and fresh crabs being cooked on the street front, to be bought, cracked and eaten at stainless steel troughs right there on the footpath!

Tomorrow, more exploring, then on Tuesday we have our full-day tour to Yosemite National Park.

Alaska, USA - Trip with Daniel - Days 1 & 2

Daniel and I departed Perth, Saturday afternoon, 12th February, and after 38 hours, it is still only Sunday, 13th February, having crossed the International Date Line as well as the Equator. With tail winds we made good timing to Auckland on the 'red-eye'.

I love Auckland Airport:  Passing through the portal, complete with birdsong.

 A 36-minute sequence of traditional Maori designs from six themes,
including ocean and night sky, is projected across Pou Manawa
using projectors and LED lighting.

The Jet Park Hotel where we had booked a day room had the most comfortable beds and pillows. Five hours' sleep, a shower and brunch of Eggs Benedict with a cappuccino had us feeling pretty good as we boarded the plane again for 12 hours' flight to San Francisco.

Air New Zealand again provided an excellent flight, with fresh, quality, well-prepared meals, and touch-screen in-flight entertainment, with a choice of over 70 movies.  It was good weather with mostly smooth flying.

We arrived in San Francisco tired but feeling well. We've had a few learning experiences that are sometimes inevitable given all the factors that can lead to lack of concentration. The most costly was our first US dollars spent on the shuttle fare plus tip being composed of a handful of US notes that all look the same when tired, disoriented and surrounded by traffic and balancing suitcases. We realised shortly after that one of the two $1 notes included in the payment was actually a $100 note! The driver, who could speak very little English, gave us a big smile as he quickly drove away.

Feeling very thankful for the smoothly running trip and the pleasure of enjoying one another's company, we turned our attention to gratefulness rather than being upset for long. Settling in at the Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf, we both agreed that we would not sleep now, but shower and go for a walk and lunch. So we had our showers and promptly fell asleep for an hour or so!

[to be continued...]