Knowing I had 2 more days left in San Francisco I decided to get myself a 48 hour bus ticket and be the best tourist I could be. This is a mighty blog post, get readyyyyyyyyyy!
Monday 14th September
In the morning I caught a glimpse of Alamo Square. The Painted Ladies looked fabulous but I always think about how strange it must be to live in that house and have strangers taking photos of it constantly.
I then went through Haight-Ashbury which was a bit funky and then onto Golden Gate Park. I spent the rest of my morning there mostly in the Japanese Tea Garden. While the place was beautiful I felt I almost had to stay there a long time because I paid $8 to be in there. I had Japanese tea and Miso soup which was yummy and warmed me up from the kind of muggy SanFran day.
Being in the Japanese Tea Garden really gave me a snapshot of Japanese landscape – would love to visit the country someday. I really wish I could have spent more time in Golden Gate Park but I had a ferry trip that I could not miss!
Alcatraz. How bloody glad am I that I booked in advance? You can’t get tickets on the day so as much as I love spontaneity I’m glad on this occasion I was organised and planned ahead. The weather was dreadful but in this instance it added so much to the atmosphere of the infamous prison. The actual prison itself was situated on top of a large hill which meant more steep walking (as if San Francisco hadn’t killed my calves yet anyway)
The main part of the prison was given in the format of an audio tour. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to have done it really. Visitors are able to listen to real accounts from prison inmates and officers from where certain activities took place and events occurred within the prison.
“Break the law you go to prison. Break the prison laws and you go to Alcatraz”
Alcatraz closed in 1963. The weather conditions were damaging the building and the upkeep was expensive. When I arrived to the end of the tour I felt I had learned a lot. The big one being about how people are obsessed with knowing what goes on in a prison especially a prison like Alcatraz. But when I came to the gift shop at the end the last thing I was expecting to do was actually meet an ex-Alcatraz inmate. And in a “man if I don’t do this I’ll regret it” I shook the guy’s hand. He wasn’t a murderer or anything like that. I guess it’s quite a strange thing to tell people that I shook the hand of an ex-Alcatraz inmate but then again there aren’t many ex-inmates that are still alive and he’s an 80 year old man that has finally decided to stop being unlawful and tell people about his experience (which I guess is good…) That’s not to say I almost pooed myself when I started speaking and he looked straight at me in the eyes, smirked and went “where is that accent from?”
Leaving Alcatraz was weird. I had heard so many accounts of people attempting to escape and here I was standing at the ferry port in a very polite queue. Nobody was super eager to leave or just generally get on the ferry quickly. Bizarre.
Tuesday 15th September
Last full day in San Fran and I touristed it up to the max.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. And no, you can’t take too many pictures of it.
As I was taking photos I was approached by this girl asking me if I wanted to have a photo taken of me with the great GGB and I offered the same for her. I realised she was the girl that sat next to me on the bus and she sought me out! She asked me if I wanted to go to Sausalito with her and because I was planning on going there anyway I thought why not! We had a lovely lunch by the ocean and Sausalito is beautiful. Good old fish and chips and chatting to new people was bliss.
I discovered that the girl I was chatting to was 24 and currently in San Francisco with her boyfriend. He was working in the day and she had that time to wander and explore on her own. Turns out her first day of exploring was the day I met her. While I liked the company it occurred to me that she became quite controlling about what we should do. She had 2 further weeks of exploring to do and I only had 1 day. Conversation began to turn into “We’ll do the 7D experience and then we’ll do the walking tour” and before I knew it my kindness and willing to go with whatever had resulted in her creating a huge timetable. For my last day absolutely not. I felt like a bitch. Travelling alone is scary the first time but she wasn’t completely on her own. In my mind she had the best of both worlds: travelling alone in the day and a boyfriend for the evening. I didn’t feel bad for her, if anything she should have felt bad for me!
I walked GGB which was super windy but it was awesome. I got the bus back and went to Pier 39 in search of the famous sea lions and I could not find them for love nor money. It was the tourists that gave it away in the end but the minute I heard the sea lions you couldn’t stop hearing them. They were hilarious and wouldn’t stop making a racket.
I killed time in Fisherman’s wharf and in the evening I used the last of my 48 bus ticket by going on the night tour to Treasure Island!
The night tour was fab and seeing SanFran at night was superb. When we arrived at Treasure Island night had fallen and we were graced with a beautiful San Francisco skyline at night.
It really dawned on me at this point about how incredible this trip had been and holding back tears was difficult. The conversations I had with Jeanne in Seattle about my Granddad were touching and meeting her family was fantastic. San Francisco where I met people I had met in Copenhagen was brilliant. I’ve done things I would never have had the confidence to do a year ago. I hope my Granddad is taking one look right now and thinking “you’re mad travelling on your own, I’m proud but not surprised.”
Oh and I went to Coit Tower on the Wednesday just to absolute destroy my leg muscles.
Cheers West Coast USA, you were aaaaaaaawesome.