San Francisco Trip

It’s taken me a while to sort through all the photos and whatnot, but finally, it’s done – here they are. Last Saturday I finally got up to San Francisco for [most of] the day. I had to go to the airport anyway to change my return flight, so that worked well enough into my plans. Ashley & Brett were too boring to come with me – they both spent the weekend working on work stuff they were presenting this week. Pfft.

I didn’t have any particular plan of attack… just to head up there and do the usual tourist stuff – Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, etc. I was trying to organise to meet up with Bronwyn and a few of her friends, whom were going to be up in San Francisco then as well, but I wasn’t able to get in contact with her in time to organise anything. :/

So anyway, once there I figured I’d just head towards Fisherman’s Wharf, via Chinatown and so on. And so I did. I’ve already been to Chinatown in S.F. several times, back in June last year, so there wasn’t much new for me to look at there. From there I started heading for higher ground. Simply on the rationale that I’d be able to see more and get my bearings on where exactly I was. This plan lead me on a winding path up Nob hill, and through Russian hill. I was actually looking for Coit Tower, although I didn’t know what it was called or where it was at that point – I figured Nob hill was a good place to start. Of course, once I reached Russian hill I suddenly saw it, clear as day, way over the other side on the other hill. D’oh.

But then that turned out to be a good walk too, down Nob/Russian hill, past Washington Square and up Telegraph Hill. I did go up to the top of the tower, which has unobstructed views of most of the city – very nice. There was also a film crew at the bottom of the tower doing something… there wasn’t much plot going on at that point – just some kind dressed up as a bum asking for money from the camera. It was somewhat amusing, but only a little… they must have done at least half a dozen takes while I was there… most of the crew were just standing around looking thoroughly bored.

After that, having finally found Lombard street – back across a mere two blocks from where I’d just been on Russian/Nob hill – I started walking back that way. I did the usual tourist thing, walking up it and then back down… there was a constant queue of cars passing through, nearly all of them obviously tourists. Likewise, there were tourists on foot, similarly to me, taking far too many photos. I mean, the street is kinda cool, but, it’s not that big a deal.

So, from there I headed down to the bay, my final destination. I grabbed some lunch, and just wandered around… did the full tour of the piers, the USS Pampatino – a really old diesel submarine – and all that. I even happened by chance into a funny little museum they have down there, full of old mechanical amusements from days long gone. Things where you put in your quarter (which would have been a penny, originally) and it plays a mock battle between 2D cutouts of cowboys and indians. I could have wasted a lot of money in there, but restrained myself to just looking at things. It’s quite impressive, the level of detail and complexity they achieved using purely mechanical means. I love old contraptions like that – like the crazy ball machine at Northland. I can watch things like those for ages.

So, I wrapped up my intended tour with a quick walk around Pier 39, the epitimal tourist destination along the wharf there. I checked out one of the chocolate shops there – “Chocolate Heaven” – which also sold Ghirardelli chocolate… on which I stocked up a little. It’s extremely expensive stuff – at least twice the price of your normal Cadbury chocolate in Australia, three times the prices I normally pay… and, well, yeah, it’s good, but really it’s very very similar to Cadbury’s. Perhaps slightly richer, but that’s it. It was a very welcome change from the nasty Hershey’s crap that permeates all quarters here, but, not something I could ever justify having regularly. Which is probably a very good thing, so far as my health is concerned. :)

After that, given it was about 5:30 at that point and getting dark, I decided to head back. My legs were tired and a nasty blister forming on my heel, so I figured that was the day. The city itself, it seems, had different plans… as I was walking back through Chinatown, it was clear something was going on. People – tourists and locals alike – were running around throwing baby explosives at the ground (and, in the case of the small boys, at each other). That’s not typical, I’m pretty sure. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised to notice huge crowds gathering along one of the streets running parallel to me. After a few blocks, curiosity finally convinced me to check it out. As it turns out, everyone was waiting for the Chinese New Year parade to start. Yeah yeah, I know, Chinese New Year was weeks ago… don’t look at me, I didn’t organise it.

So, there was a parade. It was pretty cool – some of those groovy Chinese dragons and lots of dancers of different styles… it was a little commercial – I had to laugh at the McDonalds float – but not too bad.

Unfortunately, it was very difficult finding a decent vantage point. People had been queuing up for nearly two hours before I got there, apparently, and there were many thousands of people… the parade ran up and down all over downtown S.F. I had to cross it three times to get through to the train station. It took quite some time… a lot of which was watching the parade, but much of which was just trying to find a gap through which to sneak. :)

So, after all this and a long walk home (an hour and a half), I finally arrived back in Cupertino at about 11. I stopped by the 24 hour donut shop, half way between work and home, for a hot chocolate and a Gatorade. I probably spent nearly half an hour there, just relaxing a bit… my legs were killing me. It’s really funny – I didn’t have any discomfort until I’d been sitting and relaxing around Fisherman’s Wharf… all the actual walking in the early afternoon had been fine.

Anyway, I did eventually arrive home, safe and sound, and very tired, but happy.

There’s still plenty of things in S.F. I’d like to see – including a lot of the things along the waterfront that I skipped over or missed the first time around – but that might have to wait a while… with one weekend left, I’d like to try something different. But, it seems I have to go back to the airport yet again to sort out some more of this flight #%!@, so, maybe I’ll get the “opportunity” again anyway. :/

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