Sunday, April 1, 2018

On the Streets of San Francisco

Bill went to the Bay Area to see his brother and go to a virtual reality and gaming conference at the Moscone Center.  He wanted me to go with him but work prevented me from going the whole week.  I joined him midway through to spend some time in the city and see Chuck for the first time since he became ill in October.  It was good to get away for a few days.

My goal for the trip was to take photos of all the iconic locations in the city.  I was trying to figure out how I was going to go about doing that when I discovered the Hop On Hop Off bus options for touring the city.  It actually worked out pretty well.  I didn't spend any great amount of time at any one location-an hour or so at the most-but got photos of most of the things that I wanted to capture so I was very pleased with myself. 

We stayed at the King George Hotel near Union Square.  It was a quaint small hotel with a British theme that has been newly renovated.  It was interesting to have two twin beds.  Bill and I felt like we were in the 50's.  On Thursday, I was itching to get started.  The buses didn't start until 0900 at Union Square but I was ready to go at 0745 so I started out walking.  I think that was the most miles and "flights of stairs" (climbing all those hills) that I have ever done-20,000 steps and 90 flights for the day.  I walked an hour and a half before I even got on the bus. While I was walking, I hit Chinatown and the Chinatown Dragon Gate.  I have been there many times over the years but always feel the need to stop there if I can.  Lombard Street-the crooked street-was next on my list.  I had to use my GPS to find my way there.  Sherrill and I went there over 30 years ago and I was looking forward to seeing it again.  Unfortunately I was a little disappointed because it was probably a little bit too early in the season.  None of the bushes were flowering as I remembered it from my last visit.  Once I found the closest bus stop for the HOHO bus, I was on my way to more adventures.  First stop was the Golden Gate Bridge.  It had been sprinkling as I was walking and got to the bridge.  I was a little disappointed as it was all fogged in although the bridge is beautiful any way you see it.  While I was waiting for the bus to go to Sausalito, it started pouring down rain sideways because there were 30 mph winds with it.  I was beginning to think I might need to bag my outing for the day.  All the buses were open air buses for the best viewing but the Sausalito bus was only open air with no available cover.  Luckily, I was the only passenger and the driver was kind enough to let me sit on the steps next to him under cover to get there.  Once I got to Sausalito, the sun came out much to my relief.  I had some breakfast and then hopped the next bus back to the bridge and got some great sunny photos.  I had never been to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies before so I was really excited to be able to do that.  I got some OK pictures but was disappointed so I decided to go back the next day to get better ones.  I was so cold sitting on the top of the bus and luckily I had my hood to try to keep my head as warm as possible--especially when we were driving on the freeway and across the bridge. As soon as I got back to Union Square, I got off the bus to get some more clothes on and then went to get back on and do some more exploring.  I didn't do too much that part of the route.  Just went to Fisherman's Wharf and back through to Union Square.

On Friday, I was a little short on time because Bill wanted to get going to Fremont before rush hour.  My first stop that day was the Palace of Fine Arts.  I had never been there before and found it so beautiful and a great place to take photos.  I saw some swans but just as I got set up to take some photos, they got out of the pool and went on to the wooded island.  In addition to returning to Alamo Square, I got out at Fisherman's Wharf to have lunch and go see Ghiradelli Square.  I got back to the hotel to leave just as Bill did and we headed to the BART station to go down to Fremont.

I had mixed results with the buses.  The pass that I bought was for two companies that had merged.  One company had audio recordings for the tour using ear phones but none of the drivers explained the channels or how they worked until the second day so that was a little disappointing.  The other company had live tour guides which was great except one of them kept asking for tips which was annoying.  The only other thing that was a little bit annoying was that sometimes I waited more than a half hour for the next bus to arrive.  It got me to where I wanted to go and wasn't very expensive.  I would say overall I was satisfied with the service.

We had a nice time visiting with Chuck and Suzanne.  We had a terrific old style Italian dinner in Fremont Friday night.  We tried to go to the Tech Museum of Innovation Saturday morning but wasn't able to get there because of the March for Our Lives demonstrations so we ended up going to Santana Row first to have brunch at the West Bank there and then went to the museum afterward.  Suzanne is a great cook and the two of us put together fish tacos for dinner.

Chuck and Suzanne dropped us off at the San Jose Airport and things seemed to go okay until we got to Portland and found that my bag didn't arrive.  We waited awhile and filed my claim thinking it would probably just come on the next flight from San Jose.  When my bag finally was delivered about 24 hours later, I found that it had been inspected in Kauai.  I did see that there was a flight to Lihue at our gate before our flight.  I guess my bag wanted a longer and more exotic vacation than just going to the Bay Area.

Definitely great to see the city again and see family.  Nice little getaway.

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