Travel Report San Francisco, USA

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Travel Report San Francisco, USA

San Francisco, California, USA
one stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05

San Francisco, Alcatraz, Berkley, Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, Red Woods, Hearst Castle
 

 

 
Kind of travel: Travelling alone
Year of this voyage: 2005
Author's age: 30-45 years
 

 
Journal Update 06th March 2005 / San Francisco, USA
Well we are finally here in San Fran in Lombard St, on the very last few days of our virtual tour.

We have been really taken with California and the spectacular drive down the old route 1 from LA. Last night we had driven within 30 miles of San Fran and we stayed at a beautiful place called Half Moon Bay.

The weather was terrible yesterday so we zoomed up the highway without much opportunity to stop. So this morning with the sun shining so wonderfully we doubled back to Santa Cruz and went to Felton to a place I remember from when I visited eight years ago called Roaring Camp.

Joe had got it in his head that he really wanted to see the Red Woods before he left California and as the day was so fine we thought it would be perfect to take the old steam train through the woods. Well it was great, great fun and it was nice as there were Grampies and Grannies and kids all having a ball on the train.

We visited Hearst Castle which always gets such a bad write up in the travel guides as being a tacky memorial to Hearsts wealth. Since the last time I visited I have been really keen to see the place.

I love these eccentric historical places and the sun shone for long enough to walk through the grounds and admire the incredible Neptune Pool and the gardens full of lemon trees and very fat squirrels (who get to eat all the lemons).

The interior wasn't so impressive simply for the fact that many of the pieces of art and furnishings were brought for dealers post World War 1 from Europe and were kind of cobbled together in some semblance of taste. Hearst sounded like a bit of an authoritarian and though very generous to his guests he didn't like them getting drunk and rowdy, which led someone to say that at his dinner parties the wine flowed like glue!
 

The next morning we stopped along the coast to see the elephant seals basking in the sunshine. The males are particularly expressive with their huge noses they lie there all day doing very little but scratch their bellies (like someone else I know). We were lucky as it is right at the end of the season and many of the females had already left with the pups.

This evening we went down to the very tacky Fishermans Wharf to check out getting tickets for Alcatraz in the morning. We had some fantastic Clam chowder served up in a bread roll bowl and it was so good we went back later and shared a fresh crab on the side walk with delicious chilli dip (it reminded us of the food markets in Singapore). We also rode the Trolly Car to China Town (yes Joe hung off the side) and walked around admiring the smell of hot noodles (though after China it wasn't quite so impressive).

Tomorrow we are planning to see Alcatraz and Haight Ashbury in the afternoon (perhaps ride across the Golden Gate Bridge in our car and see Berkley. We could do with another 3 weeks or 3 months really. It would be so cool to drive down to Mexico in a huge winebago truck.

 
Journal Update 07th March 2005 / San Francisco, USA / Escape From Alcatraz
Hi folks
Well we certainly packed it all in today, getting up at 7.00 am (unheard of for Lazy J and myself) to rush down to the pier to purchase our hot ticket for Alcatraz.

Alas even though we were there at 8.45 am they were already announcing that the morning tours were sold out and that we would have to get the 2.15 pm tour if any. Joe used his English/cockney charm and managed to wangle us on a midday tour (though he was very disappointed as he wanted to see Alcatraz in a Pea souper fog and really feel like one of the inmates). We took a cab up to Haight St (unheard of for us) but alas it was way too early for all the whacked out hippies to get out of bed so we decided to get the bus back and walk along the front to kill time till 12.00. We were surprised the ferry ride over to the rock only took about 10 minutes and we were there. We tried to get on the invalid truck that takes you to the top of the hill (using Joes gimpy leg as a ruse to get on) but they wouldn't let me ride with him (Jobsworth). So we walked with all the other Paroles to the Gaol house. We did the audio tour and heard all the escape stories and about the Bird Man of Alcatraz (who never actually kept any birds at Alcatraz), Al Capone (who according to one inmate was a street fighter who wasn't all there in the brain department) and about the 3 that escaped but were never heard of again. It gets mighty cold in that prison cell and I was pleased when we were able to escape back on to the ferry. The worst thing about being a prisoner there must have been the close proximity to San Francisco and to see all those people living their lives when you were banged up.

After walking up and down hills for ages we decided to head back to the hotel and take the car for a drive around town. We drove up to Haight Ashbury but after 3/4 of an hour trying to park we gave up and decided to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. My map reading took us totally the wrong way but eventually we got there just as the night was drawing in. What a spectacular view and how cool to drive across that bridge. Our last stop was Mels Drive in Diner which was apparently in "American Graffiti". We had two malted milk shakes with a cherry on top and burgers. It was much better than Mc Donalds. We are taking the car back tomorrow to the airport and then plan to buy a key ring for Pete.

Journal Update 08th March 2005 / San Francisco USA
So tomorrow afternoon it is farewell San Francisco and hello Rayleigh. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but hey we had a good run for Joes' money!

So on our last day we drove across the Bay Bridge to Oakland and then parted ways with our groovy Hertz car at the airport. After we took the BART (BAY AREA RAPID TRANSPORT) into town and went to Haight Ashbury to check out the vintage shops.

Unfortunately it wasn't as cool as my rose tinted memory and the place was full of bums and shops selling crack pipes.

Then we took the BART out to the college town of Berkeley, which is where California University is based, so prowled the stores there and had a few drinks in a bar which was very similar to Cheers. There was a guy in there that had been visiting that bar since 1976! I don't think his name was Norm though.

As usual Joe played "Man at the Bar" and regaled the clientele with stories of our trip. A strange guy at the end of the bar got very interested and came over to chat to us. It turns out he lives in Japan and teaches at a diplomatic school. He was very interested in Vietnam and he told us he had been there about 6 or 7 times, twice during the war. We decided there was something very CIA about him but we couldn't quite put our fingers on what it was (perhaps his shiny shoes and slicked across hair).
 

Joseph Brilus
Joseph Brilus

Wendy Brierley
Wendy Brierley

 

We decided to blow the deposit for a house on a grand world tour through 2004. We booked through STA travel and put together a brief itinerary including the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. As it turned out we experienced China, Bali, Fiji and many more places in between.

We decided to end the trip with a wedding in Las Vegas (which was very memorable!) As a wedding present my brother put together an on-line travel blog for us which was a great tool for documenting our journey. This experience truly changed our lives and we encountered many fantastic people through out the world. I hope you enjoy reading some highlights of our journal!

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Well quickly here are a few highs of our year of travels in no particular order:

  • Getting the nerve up to see China and experiencing Beijing, and The Forbidden City.
  • Swimming at Maya Beach off Ko Phi.
  • Swimming with a turtle off The Whitsundays in Australia.
  • Seeing a sperm whale in Kaikoura in New Zealand.
  • Crashing the elephant at Angkor Wat.
  • Seeing the Geishas in Kyoto Japan and the technology strewn streets of Tokyo.
  • Getting married in Vegas.
  • Hiking in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia
  • & visiting the orang-utans in Borneo.
  • Snorkelling and seeing sharks in the Gili Islands and in Fiji.
Well that's not all, but it is for now and so ends our dream adventure.

Love Wendy & Joe

first stop on Wendy's & Joe's world tour 2004/05
 

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World Tour Travel Reports from Wendy & Joe:
Japan > Singapore > Malaysia > Thailand > Laos > Vietnam > Cambodia > Indonesia > Hong Kong > China >
Australia > New Zealand > Fiji > Cook Islands > USA

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Travel Report San Francisco, USA