San Francisco

San Francisco ( August 8 - 11)

We drove from South Lake Tahoe and checked into our hotel, before heading to San Francisco Airport to meet Paul's sister and niece, Sarah and Jenny, who had flown in to meet us from Belfast. We took them to the hotel and by the time they had settled in and had a quick meal, the first day was done.

The next day started out misty as we gave our new arrivals a tour of the city. We started at Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.

Lombard Street (or at least the crookedest part)

Jenny posed at the bottom of the hill for a photo with the Coit Tower in the background.

Jenny poses at the bottom of Lombard Street

Then on to Fisherman's Wharf. You can tell it was chilly from all the jackets and sweatshirts.

Sarah thought about buying a large fish mural until we asked about the price! - $6,500

However, she did find a few smaller things to buy, so our trip was not in vain.

Sarah and Jenny look for sweatshirts

Our next stop was the artsy town of Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco. In Sausalito, the weather was brighter.

Sausalito Main Stree

We spent three hours in Sausalito and after a late lunch returned to the city.

That evening, we went back to Pier 39 for dinner.

Pier 39 at dusk

Our plan was to have dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co but there was a one hour wait, so we finished up having pizza!

Next day, we started by riding one of the famous Cable Cars.

Jenny and Sarah (and every other tourist) poses on the Cable Car.

Jenny wearing her new "California" Sweat Shirt (essential at this time of the day)

Sarah hanging on for dear life (although the Cable Car wasn't moving)

Not always easy to see, but the hills of San Francisco are VERY steep

After the Cable Car, we split up. Sarah and Jenny went shopping downtown and Kris and I walked to Chinatown.

Chinatown Gate

The main street of Chinatown

And yes, they did have Lucky Cats for sale, although we didn't buy any this time

Kris and I then took a bus to The Presidio, to see the Walt Disney Family Museum. It took a bit of finding and being a Sunday, everything in the area was closed, but we found it in the end.

It was, as we expected, Walt's history, with a great deal about his film making genius, which of course is exactly what you would expect.

The Oscar (and seven little Oscars) awarded for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

Walt's working model steam engine "The Lilly Belle" which he used to pull friends around his garden

We also toured a special exhibition about Mary Blair, who was one of Walt Disney's best known designers and is best remembered for her design of "It's a small world"

The exhibition was on two floors

Her style was obvious even in this early piece

On our final day, we all went to Alcatraz, the infamous prison on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz as you approach from the water

The main cell block from the outside

And from the inside

A typical cell now

And as it might have been when in use. The accordion would have been an unusual privilege

One privilege was the right to use the exercise yard, a cold and windy place even in August. The Golden Gate Bridge is visible in the distance.

The dining hall - the most dangerous place in the prison. (The inmates had access to knives in here - no plastic cutlery in those days. Apparently the food was pretty good. The staff and prisoners ate the same food.

The kitchen. Note the knife rack with the outline of the knives

The busy bay, filled with ferries and activities, just out of reach of the prisoners

And always just over a mile away, the tantalizing sights and sounds of San Francisco.  So near and yet so far.

After leaving Alcatraz, Sarah and Jenny went shopping and Kris and I headed for the old hippy haunt of Haight - Ashbury.

Kris paying homage to the hippy history of the area

Of course, it's now been gentrified and the shops are mostly for tourists, but it was a fun place to wander around for a an hour or so.

Note the homeless guy looking at the camera. Some things never change

It's still a local neighborhood, but there are lots of tourists as well

On our last night, we met up with the son of an old friend of mine from school, Duncan German and his wife, Clare. We had to change venues, because Jenny isn't old enough to go into a bar, but once we had worked THAT out, we had a very enjoyable evening.

Clare and Duncan