We left our hearts......
24.04.2007 18 °C
The first good news was the Hotel (the Astoria) that I'd booked online six months ago - after reading a lot of travellers reviews - is simply fantastic.
At 400 dollars for 4 for the whole week (including breakfast), less than many hotels charge for a night, I had been concerned that it would be grotty, but it was lovely - and being on Bush St, right next door to China Town Gate and a couple of blocks from Union Square, the location was ideal!
The second is the Muni transit tickets - ours were $24 each for the week and the girls were $10 for the whole month! The bus system is fairly quick and easy to use and our passes also include the underground and the Cable Cars. So unless you need to travel out of town, a car would just be a liability.
We had planned to do a lot of shopping here but, even with the strong pound, there didn't appear to be many bargains around. So we just went out and enjoyed ourselves.
We're having luck with the weather again - it's beautiful. We hired bikes on Fisherman's Wharf and cycled along the waterfront, over Golden Gate Bridge and down to the pretty little town of Sausalito for lunch. We had intended to take the ferry back but we were all feeling fit so we carried on around the Bay to catch the ferry at Tiburon (another pretty little town - sigh - Frith is looking at house prices!).
It was a great day. We ended up cycling over 17 miles and to top it off we had dinner in a Thai restaurant!
The next day started rainy so we went to the Exploratorium (interactive science museum) in the Palace of Fine Arts, which was wonderful - there were almost too many things to do in a single day.
Later, we walked along the seafront to the Cannery, which was boring, then on to Cioppini's for dinner. I had their special seafood linguini: Swordfish, Salmon, Scallops, Prawns & Mussels in a Pesto, Garlic & Cream Sauce, topped with Dungeness Crab. One of the best meals I've ever had!
The following day we went to Six Flags Marine World and Wildlife Park in Vallejo. We bought a package ticket including ferry and bus from Blue & Gold Fleet at Fishermans Wharf. Watch them - they tried to charge us adult rates for the kids!
The Tigers, Dolphins and Whales were fantastic.
After our first Roller Coaster ride, Rhiannon was desperate to go on Medusa - an insane twisted, contorted manifestation of somebody's perverted idea of a good time. Neither Frith nor Heather was game so.......
Actually, it was the best ride I've ever been on. For all the G forces and twists and loops, it was extremely smooth. And I don't have to do it again.
Those were the high points. The crowds, the awful food options, the queues, the "amusement" arcades, the usual theme park trimmings - they were the low points.
Frith took the girls to Alcatraz (I've already been).
I met up with them at Pier 33 and we returned by cable car.
In the evening we ate in a self service chinese cafe where you pick and choose from approximately 20 dishes and they weigh your plate at the till (charging $6 per pound). What a good idea for parents with fussy - and vegetarian -kids!
We had various other outings - to shops, Golden gate Park, Haight-Ashbury (full of very colourful shops and wannabe hippies), before flying with Virgin back to London on the 18th of April. The highlight of the flight was looking out at the Northern Lights during the night (note: not my photo).
Heather: Yosemite, Six Flags, Bike Ride, Mark Twain room (Murphys)
Rhiannon: Yosemite, Six Flags, Bike Ride across Golden Gate Bridge,
Frith: Service in restaurants, food, San Francisco, Yosemite, Bear boxes, Route 49, Murphys, Death Valley
Graham: Yosemite, Death Valley, Bike Ride, Gold Country, Redwood forest
Heather: Sleeping on the floor, waking in Yosemite (cold!)
Rhiannon: American Food
Graham: Crap Cars, State Troopers, TV & Radio evangelists!!!