our trip — part one — san francisco

Posted on May 23, 2007. Filed under: The boy(s), Travelling |

After months of not seeing much of one another, Brian and I finally got to spend some quality vacation time together. We  flew to San Francisco about a week ago and checked into an old hotel called Nob Hill Hotel. It’s 100 years old and has so much character and charm. The staff were wonderful and the room was adorable and quaint. Definitely a hotel worth staying at. The first night we fought off jet lag by walking aimlessly around downtown. We meandered, looking for a restaurant that I could eat at, and stumbled upon a nice thai place near the Port of San Francisco.

Exhausted, we walked all the way back (uphill, I might remind you) and headed to bed. The next day was our touristy day. We went to Sears Fine Food for breakfast.  This is an adorable restaurant done up circa 1940. We actually had to line up outside, but the line moved quickly. From there we hiked across the city, visiting Coit Tower and it was a nice view of the city from the vantage point, but nothing spectacular. We stumbled across the Cable Car Museum on the way and it was very cool. You can actually see the cables being pulled and I had no idea that was how they worked — there’s actually a pulley/cable system beneath the streets that the car has to clamp onto.

From Coit Tower we managed to find our way to Fisherman’s Wharf and I had the best fresh crab ever at one of the oldest restaurants around.

Then, the main attraction: Alcatraz. We had been looking forward to this tour for a long time and were told that we had to book ahead through Alcatraz Tours to get a place and so we did. It cost about $90 Canadian for the two of us to get these tickets. We lined up with a few hundred other people and got seats on the top deck. The view of Alcatraz as we approached was eerie and cool. The view of the city was breathtaking. We couldn’t hear the audio in the boat because it was somewhat broken. But we managed to get over to the island in once piece. We got off the boat with the first 100 people and headed up 2 somewhat steep hills (or they seemed steep because our legs were wrecked from walking so much). The first thing the tour guide said to us was “does anyone have any questions?” Um, sure “what the hell is everything around us?”. He then talked about the movie The Rock and a Clint Eastwood movie for a bit before we continued up the hill. So far, we were both unimpressed.

But I was still excited.

We got inside and were given audios.

With 100 other people and a few hundred behind us we couldn’t really see much and the audio was very poorly recorded. I’m used to audio tours that either stop after they talk about the place you’ve been hearing about and then wait for you to press the button to continue, or are numbered. These were not. These tours seemed to be recorded by people who were not, nor ever had, walked through the things that they were talking about in the pace and time that they were speaking of them. Okay, it was neat to hear about everything in terms of the escape. But it was all that they really talked about and I was really looking for more than that. We didn’t learn any real history of the island. We kind of picked up the fact that it used to be a Military island, but that’s about it. All in all it was a terrible tour and really wasn’t worth the money. It’s cool to say that I’ve been there, but it was very disappointing all in all. I think the tour company needs to tweak a hell of a lot of it’s operations to give a quality experience. We decided that we’ve been spoiled by European tourist attractions, tours, and museums — they really have it right over there.

Absolutely knackered after the tour, we jumped on the Cable Car and made our way back to the hotel in no time. After walking across the entire city (also something I’m used to doing when on vacation, but it’s never this hilly nor this spread out) our legs hurt in places that we didn’t know we had. We ate at the Italian restaurant under the hotel and it was lovely.

The San Francisco portion of our trip came to a conclusion the next day when we tried to find a rental car, found one at Avis that was too expensive, left, and found that there were no other cars to be found in the city. So we rushed back to Avis only to find that the car was gone. BUT, they had a Suzuki Grand Vitara for way cheaper than the little car we were going to get stuck with. Not cool since gas was the most expensive it’s ever been in the US, but at least we had a way out. We also learned that Mondays are high car rental days. Who knew?

After briefly visiting Japantown, we fled the city and headed for the coast.


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[…] on June 2nd, 2007. After our first few days in San Francisco, with our rental car secured, Brian and I left the city and headed for the coast. We travelled down […]

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