Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Day 51 - San Francisco - Sep 14th

It was Sept 13th for us, but we thought we’d better get used to NZ time again.  Arriving in San Francisco passing under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is one of those things that is on many bucket lists, so staggering out of bed really early wasn’t a problem.   What was a problem was the fog.  The ship was constantly sounding the fog horn and as we approached the bridge, we couldn’t even see it.  Even travelling underneath, we could hardly see the road up above.  As we approached our pier (35), we could definitely hear seals barking, somewhere around pier 39, though we couldn’t see any.
An early breakfast was essential as the 8.00am appointment (not 8:20am) with US immigration was set in concrete.  However, seated in the theatre, awaiting the call for the interview, meant a 45 minute wait and waste of time - and the natives were definitely getting restless.  If NZ can put a couple of people on board to do all the processing on sea days, then I see no reason why the US can’t.
We were eventually sent down to the opposite end of the ship to the vista lounge for the face to face.  No fingerprints, no eye scans, just a face to face with a pleasant official who stamps the passport and clips the departure card to it.
We walked off just after 9am and caught a taxi for the short ride to the Sheraton.  Only a few blocks from pier 35, but too far to drag the cases.
We had our travel agent email to say we’d be early and as we are in the Starwood loyalty system, they had a room ready, which was great.  We just chucked our gear in and walked out the door a matter of 75 yards/metres to the Hop On Hop Off bus terminus.  Perfect!
We bought a 2 day pass each as they were just $10 more than a 1 dayer at $35.  We headed up top and looked behind us, only to see Alex and Terri and several other cruisers on the bus immediately behind!  As the Disney ship was also in, the bus company had the sense to add extra buses first thing, so our bus was full as was the one behind.
It was still rather cool and the mist was still hanging around in places.  The HOHO took us around parts of the City that included one area where the number of street people (ie drop outs etc) was very high, including the park.  We noted that Union square was on the outward and inward routes, so made a mental note to hop off tomorrow, the on again around the corner.
The bus headed out across the bridge and it was freezing!  Well, not as cold as Alaska maybe, but cold enough.  The mist seems to hang around the bridge only, as the approaches on both sides were in sunshine.  Quite strange going across the bridge and not being able to see the top!  In the background of the pic Paula took of me, you can see Alcatraz.  Incidentally, those who wanted to visit the old jail and hadn’t booked in advance, were disappointed, as the tours were full until Monday or Tuesday.
Alex & Terri were still behind us as the buses headed back into town and we noted Chinatown for later too.  As the ship was at pier 35, several got off the stop before us including Alex & Terri.  It was now lunch time and we headed for Neptune’s restaurant overlooking the inner harbour – and about 150 seals lazing around on 3 of about a dozen pontoons.   We had to wait a short while for  a table and in hindsight, we shouldn’t have bothered.
Paula’s chicken & pesto pasta wasn’t brilliant but my crumbed fish and chips were not good at all.  The crumbed fish was cheap and overcooked and the chips were not exactly pleasant either.
Wandering back we bumped into – Alex & Terri!   I grabbed  an excellent large, hot coffee from a stall (Biscoff?) that came with a fresh, wrapped malt biscuit.  It was quite cheap too at around $3.
The pier 39 shops are very attractive and although some are expensive (the Irish place for example), others were quite modestly priced, so much so, that Paula bought a fleece jacket for around $14.  We sat with A & T and watched the seals for a while, then we effectively went our separate ways.
We watched a very good street entertainer, an English guy and his sister, doing various acrobatic stunts but he had a great patter and there was  a large crowd standing around and enjoying it.   
As both our camera’s seemed to have run out of battery power and I have no spare, I bought one for a fair $35.
We ambled back to the hotel until we headed to pier 39 again to watch the sailaway at 7pm.  It was getting a bit chilly by then and we soon accumulated one or two others from the ship, including one of the dancers.
The sailaway was great as the sun disappeared and the clouds rolled in but the ship was too far away to recognise anyone but no doubt Mal was on the binoculars and we jumped up and down and waved anyway, until we were cold and hungry.  We’d spied a place selling baked potatoes almost alongside the hotel so we headed there , but were 5 minutes too late!
Back next door then to Subway...  We took our purchases back to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed them.
We crashed quite early, but the room wasn’t as dark as I would have liked.
So far, San Francisco has been a pleasant place to be.  The cruisers will be heading on to warmer climes but when I looked into the mirror, I found that the wind and sun had had an effect on my face.  Better than pasty white I suppose.  One more day then off back home - then I suppose it is countdown to next year. 

1 comment:

  1. I just love san francisco, we were there for a few days at the end of cruise in FEB