Friday, 21 September 2012

Day 52 - Last day - Friday Sept 14th (US time)

The rather light room didn’t help the sleep at all, so once again, not the best.  We rolled out of bed not long after 8am.  We checked out the cost of the buffet breakfast in the hotel and decided that $25 was far too expensive so we wandered out and opted for the large, Sour Dough Factory, Boudins.

Paula carried on with the parfait tradition and enjoyed it.  My toasted scrambled egg and bacon sandwich was a little disappointing, but the large coffee was excellent.  Total cost was about $18.

We returned to the hotel and finalised our packing, leaving the luggage with the concierge and strolled out.  We walked up Mason St, away from the water, having a reasonable idea as to where we were heading, from the HoHo yesterday.  Part way up the hill, we caught up with the bus and hopped on, getting off at Union Square.  We knew again, from yesterday, exactly where we were and headed for Chinatown, just around the corner.

Chinatown covers about 40 blocks and is one of the largest anywhere, but we basically stuck to one long street.  Some shops had the most amazing,  delicate, ivory carvings.  Quite what the provenance is of this ivory we have no idea.  Loads of the sorts of shops you’d expect in any Chinatown, but the street we chose wasn’t swamped with food outlets.

We headed back again and waited patiently outside the Triton hotel for the bus, which is supposed to arrive every 15 minutes. Quite why we had to wait 45 minutes we have no idea.

Hopping off again at pier 39, just after the spaceship sculpture which appears to be a straight copy from Wallace & Gromit’s “A Grand Day Out”, there was no way we were going to eat at Neptune’s!  Being a Friday, the pier seemed even busier than yesterday, even though there was only one cruise ship in, as the Disney ship was still there.

Having wandered around and poked our noses into several establishments, most being either too busy or too expensive, we ended up at the small, crepes establishment.  The establishment was small.  The crepes large.  Good choice. The ham and cheese crepe combo with coke and fries was just $10.80 and the fries were extremely fresh and tasty and there was more than enough for  two.  The coke was bottomless and my crab and avocado crepe was also a good choice, though the crab was in a sort of spread form, probably mixed with mayo or similar, but it was a decent meal.

The street entertainers were out in force  - as were the beggars.  One had the honest placard “I need money for weed”.  (It could only happen in San Francisco, where the pot smoking hippie culture started 40 odd years ago.)

The English acrobats were there again with a large crowd, whilst 10 metres further along, one lonesome soul was cracking a bull whip, announcing that his show was about to begin – without an audience presumably.  We walked up to pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, which naturally enough specialises in seafood – at a price.  I never did get a crab sandwich.  Passing a lone drummer/singer, we wandered into the “Mechanical Museum” which was a nostalgic trip back in to the world of old penny slot machines - but they take quarters.

Paula’s feet were getting a bit tired so we walked up the street (away from the hotel!) and she emerged from a shop ten minutes later, clutching two pairs of shoes...

Back to the hotel about 4pm, where we crashed outside in the sunshine, shared a cold drink (99c) from the adjacent 711 store, waiting for the clock to tick-over.

We had booked a shuttle for 6:15pm ($34 total) and we rescued our luggage about ten minutes before the shuttle was due and sure enough, it arrived on time so we headed to SF airport.  About a 40 minute ride and past a dry dock where there was a Princess ship being sorted.

Check in (Air NZ Premium Economy) was speedy and easy (though I didn’t know then that my luggage was heading for American Airlines).

SF airport is a pleasant one and 1000% better than Los Angeles, but the security screening was the toughest yet.  Remove belt, remove shoes, empty pockets – normal.

Full body scan, where they weren’t happy with my body image.  (I haven’t been too thrilled with it myself for about 25 years...)   A query on what was in my left pocket (nothing), so they put it down to the embroidered logo triggering the machine.  Funny that my stainless partial denture never sets off the scanners.

The biggest surprise here was that the price of the (large) coffee in the deli was only about $3.50!  That summarised SF in terms of pricing.  There were plenty of reasonably priced options wherever we looked, even in the tourist areas. 

Our seating on the 747 was upstairs where there are three seats on the left, two on the right so we had selected seats on the right.  Having flown back from the UK and LA on the 777, the old 747 is showing its age, even in premium economy.  No USB port or mains power and narrow, hard armrests.  I can’t quite understand why you stow the handset into the side of the armrest, exactly where your hip bone catches it and alters the channel, whenever you move. A slight chuckle here as even Humpty and Dumpty from the ship would find it difficult getting comfortable.   

However, a 9:45pm flight after a full day means that a little sleep might just be possible after the meal, so we’ll see.  We arrive in NZ September 16th as we cross the date line – again.  An extra August 31st on the way up, no September 15th on the way back.  

The holiday is over and I’ll blog again for the arrival in NZ, then just a summary of the trip, before we start looking at next year – or more work on the “Twilight Princess” video project.      

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