Day 11: Driving to San Francisco
I feel a bit sad this morning, I can feel the end of the trip being now only a couple of days away and the thought of not being with my Trek Family every day is dawning on me. We still have a couple of days but still, it’s present in my head; this past week has gone so fast, I have never known a week to go so quickly.
Our first stop on arrival into San Francisco was lunch with a stunning (despite rather windy) view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. This was followed by an opportunity to cross the bridge on foot -Lana dropped us off and collected us on the other side of the bride, I never knew the bridge was 1.5 miles in length!
When we rocked up to the Hotel Metropolis, I hate to say it but we were not impressed, the hotel itself was fine but the location was mixed –it was situated just off Market Street which has all the main transport links into the city, but the hotel was also right next to the Tenderloin district which should be avoided (historically violent neighbourhood). Our first site as we pulled up was a woman pissing herself on the street and there were so many homeless people. Now, of course we have homeless people in the UK but for the most part, they’re not scary as while they beg, they don’t approach you. In San Francisco, some approach you and it’s not nice. I’ve been to India and even though the kids follow you holding their hands out, they’re harmless.
This evening a few of us did the sunset boat tour which took us underneath the Golden Gate bridge at sunset and aside from feeling a bit ill and having a real fear of the sea, it was a fabulous experience and well worth $45. As part of your ticket you got two drinks and nibbles included, and the boat staff were so friendly.
After dinner (I had a clam chowder which is something San Francisco is famous for, when in Rome eh?!) we went for a drink at the oldest bar in San Francisco called The Saloon. Here I was able to prove that American’s have no idea about spirit measures. When I visited New York for the second time (here), I was 21 by this point and so Mum and I could go for a drink and I swear the bar tender filled a glass with 90% vodka and 10% coke, it was so strong we had to buy another coke in order to gradually dilute it. In San Francisco at this Saloon bar, I asked for a Jack Daniels and Coke and true to form the lady filled my glass with 98% JD and a mere squirt of coke. I gave it my best shot but I still had to ask for a bit more coke once I had made room in the glass as it was just ridiculous. I can handle my drink –not as well as I could in my late teens/early twenties I admit- but I think even the hardest of drinkers would struggle with these measures. Lol!
Day 12: Free Day in San Francisco
I woke up a bit ratty this morning at having to spend the morning of our free day on a guided tour around China Town and North Beach. I hate guided tours.
However, it was really good fun. I started off a bit reserved but our guide was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic that she made the experience really enjoyable. I had the most surreal experience though during the tour, like, completely unexpected. We were able to visit one of the Chinese temples and had the opportunity, if we wanted, to ask a question and get an answer for an additional $2 (yes, I guess be weary of fortunes you have to pay for). I love this kind of stuff so I asked our guide if I could do it and she took me through the process. Basically, after identifying your question to yourself, you take what I can only describe as a canister with sticks inside and while asking your question silently, you shake it until one of the sticks falls out. Upon retrieving your stick, it has a number on the tip which corresponds to a fortune that is on an A5 sheet of pink paper that you get given. Now, as you can expect the fortune is fairly cryptic as to be fair, it has to potentially answer a lot of questions. I won’t tell you what I asked but while I tried to digest the fortune which was a struggle, I saw the words ‘fool’ and ‘broken home’ within it and for some reason, it scared me and I burst into tears! Yes, right in the middle of this small temple, in front of my Trek buddies and the guide, for some reason the whole experience just completely overwhelmed me.
Anyway, I was given some hugs and put in front of one of the Chinese ladies who explained to me what my fortune meant and everything was ok again in the world, ha! Amusingly we then went onto a fortune cookie factory and I looked at our guide and said, “you know, I think I’m kinda’ done today for fortunes!” which made everyone laugh.
We also as part of the tour went into a tea shop and tried out different teas which again was something I would never have thought of doing and was brilliant.
Our Guide was called Suzy and she was with a company called Urban Adventures –if you like tours and fancy something a bit different and you’re in that neck of the woods I would thoroughly recommend her!
Following the tour, Kay, Verity, Hannah and I headed to Pier 33 to catch the ferry to Alcatraz. We accidently ended up in the queue for the audio tour which I didn’t think I would want (remember I don’t particularly like guided tours) but for the second time that day actually made the trip! If you walked around the island and the cells without applying context to anything, it would be quite lost on you I think whereas the audio tour, narrated by ex-prison guards and inmates really provided a story and helped you imagine how awful it was being there. Without a doubt, this was one of the best things we did all holiday and you must go to Alcatraz if you ever visit San Francisco. Must!
Now I’m a vegetarian-vegan, I need to discover a dairy free version of my all-time favourite meal –mac & cheese! To highlight how much I love it, following watching Victoria from In the Frow’s vlogs of her Trek America trip, I saw her visit the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant and she had the shrimp mac & cheese and I swear to you, I have been thinking about it ever since. So much so, that I decided upon our itinerary post Alcatraz and marched the guys straight to the restaurant. I was slightly saddened to find the mac & cheese as a side only, but remembering my meal in Las Vegas, I took the chance again on it being the size of a small main and it was! It was everything I had dreamed of! Mac & Cheese lovers, I urge you to visit a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant!
By this point in the day, we were weary but had booked tickets to go to the Science Museum following Lana’s recommendation. The idea is that you can visit at night, there’s a DJ and a bar and for $11 (£7) it seemed like a great idea. However, once we got back to the hotel we just died so we ended up walking round the corner to an INCREDIBLE ice cream bar called Cold Stone that Verity and Hannah had discovered the night before, and went back with our deserts to the boys’ room and chilled watching a film instead. I’m sad we never made it to the museum but trying to see a city in a day, wherever you are in the world, is just impossible; you can’t do everything.
Tomorrow we head to the Pacific Coast, we have one more night camping before we arrive back in LA and say goodbye. While I’m sad the trip is almost over, I think we’re all at that point now where the trip has reached a natural conclusion.Follow