San Francisco afternoon trip

On Saturday Mike & I went up to SF to make use of the voucher booklets he’d picked up while his parents were in town last week, and hadn’t finished. They gave you free public transport within the city and free entry to a lot of the museums and whatnot. Our original plan was to train up and spend the better part of a whole day there, but, well, that didn’t happen… it wasn’t until 1pm or something that I even heard from Mike, which was annoying, because I’d been up for ages, expecting to leave earlier. :)

Anyway, we drove up since it was already quite late, and didn’t actually get lost at all getting to the Minna Street carpark, which was a pleasant change. :D

From there we went down a block to the Academy of Sciences building, where they have an aquarium, and supposedly have a museum. The “museum” was really just an odd collection of niknaks on the second floor. We didn’t get much of a chance to check it out since they were closing by the time we got up to the second floor, but there didn’t seem to be a huge amount there. Stuffed animals, geological samples and displays, etc. Probably interesting stuff, but, not exactly the world’s fanciest or biggest museum.

But the main attraction there is the aquarium on the ground floor. That seemed a little dodgy at first, because the area closest to the foyer is currently all under construction and whatnot, with new tanks [presumably] going in. They had a pair of crocs (presumably alligators) sunbaking there, which according to the map were the sharks. D’oh. :)

It was actually surprisingly good, though. The style wasn’t fancy or anything like the Monterey Bay aquarium, but they had a lot of interesting stuff, and while there were plenty of people about, there weren’t so many that you couldn’t actually see anything. We took our time, were able to see everything, and try to take photos in the dim light. I think Mike’s camera handled that better than mine, but we both got some good photos. We were a bit touristy, though – we spent ten minutes at the seahorse tank just trying to get good photos, rather than actually looking at the seahorses. :)

From there we headed a couple of blocks over to SF MOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), where we arrived only forty minutes or so before closing. But, we had enough time to check out the first floor and a half of the four floors there. The first floor was quite hit-and-miss… there was sculptural art, in the form of furniture made out of cardboard and Jenga-style blocks and whatnot. And they had a bunch of old calculators (Olivetti!), typewriters, kettles, etc… none of them looked particular stylish to me, but I guess they’re historic.

There were some nice paintings, too… I’m not much of an art person, at least, not museum-style. There were a fair few people – most young or middle-age women whom you’d probably classify as “upper class” – whom weren’t quite at the point of staring at one painting for an hour, but were definitely radiating that snobby vibe. Anyway, I tried to take it seriously and did, for the most part. But when you get things like a big canvas painted in a flat blue – a nice shade, for sure – or a couple of recursive squares labelled “A homage to the square” or some crap… it’s just really hard. The biggest joke of course were three canvases stuck side by side, completely blank, called “Three panel white” or some crap. That wasn’t funny or interesting even when it was original.

Then in contrast there were some still trippy but more interesting things, like a stack of used workers shirts – 18,000 or so, from memory – next to which a person sits for four hours a day and erases the contents of a book (some book of laws, I can’t remember what exactly). The point of that being to symbolise the cleaning of the slate for the working-class, freeing them from tyrannous laws and burdens and whatnot. Despite my flippant description just given, I did actually think that was pretty cool.

The second floor was photographs, which it seems are more my thing – I quite liked those. Pretty much all black and white, which I generally dislike as it reeks of artistic desperation, but a lot of these were older than colour film, so I guess I can excuse them. ;)

It struck me, though, that many of them were really just some creepy old man taking photos of young women on the beach during summer. Really, that’s what they were. You can call it art, but I don’t know how well that defence would fly in a court of law. :)

Of course, the museum closed at 5:45 (who comes up with these retardedly early times?!?) so we were booted out before we’d seen most of it. But I’d like to go back, actually, some time… check out the rest of the photos, and whatever else is on the upper two floors.

From there, given all the museums and whatnot were closed, we caught a bus down to Golden Gate Park. We wandered through there, stopping part way at Park Gyros for dinner, and finally making it to Ocean Beach not long after sunset.

The park surprised me… there’s a lot of different styles there, all in their little niches. We didn’t see the majority of it because we didn’t have the time, but it’d definitely be cool to just meander through over the course of a full afternoon. Plus they have the botanical gardens there, which were closed by the time we arrived, and many other things we didn’t get to see.

When we first walked in though there were a whole bunch of hippies and bums everywhere. In the first big grassy area they were all congregating and having some impromptu hippie concert thing… lots of people with drums and whatnot, with really stoned guys trying to do some kind of interpretative dance. There were hippies by the side of the path selling beanies and drugs… it was kinda trippy. I hadn’t expected that, although I knew well enough that it was a hippie area.

Once we got further down though, and/or it got later, we didn’t see many other people at all.

At Ocean Beach there were a dozen bonfires going, on the beach. It’s apparently quite normal – police patrol up and down the beach, casually, not harassing anyone – and it’d probably be quite cool to do sometime. We wondered only half jokingly if we could just sidle up to some random group and join them, but, we chickened out.

From there we caught the buses back to the carpark… the first one we caught got to 4th street, so we hopped off. I then realised it was a different 4th street to the one we wanted…. extremely intelligent, that, naming two streets in the same city with the same name. (and this is the same city as in within the Melbourne CBD, not Mt. Eliza vs Preston… I have no idea how the heck you’re meant to distinguish them apart)

But we just caught another bus, so that was all good. The bus ride was kinda fun anyway, that second one – there was some kooky woman talking to the driver the whole time and going on about how she was ghetto and you shouldn’t pretend to be ghetto or they’ll whoop your ass and she’ll whoop ass and… it was funny, but rambling and often incoherent, to me anyway. Entertaining though, and she was completely harmless.

And from there we went home. I’m not sure what time exactly we got back… 11ish, maybe? Bit before… anyway, I went to bed more or less straight away as there were plans afoot for paintball the next day.

Also, photos from the trip are available.

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