Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I left my heart in San Francisco...and some money too!

Saturday morning found us up bright and early so we could head to San Francisco. Saturday was my father's 65th birthday and I had brought him a card and a gift so I gave those to him that morning before we left the hotel.

We drove into San Francisco and were looking for the street we needed to be on. My father is not one of those men who thinks it's an insult to his pride to ask for directions, thank God. We pulled up next to a taxi driver at a stoplight and my dad asked him how to get to the street. The taxi guy told us and then he went so far as to lead us to a parking garage near our destination where we could park. Very nice of him!

We found the place we needed to be to pick up our tickets for the City Sightseeing Tours and Alcatraz, which my dad had arranged for in advance. With tickets in hand, we set out to find something to eat. We encountered a couple walking along the street who told us of a few different possible eateries and then, as we rounded a corner, we saw Denny's! You cannot go wrong with Denny's for breakfast.

An hour or so later, we were full and happy and we headed back to catch our first bus tour. These tours are a wonderful way to get a great overview of the city! You can get on and off the buses at any of the stops they make along the way and the ticket is good for 48 hours so you can use it for more than one day. My dad and I both really enjoyed the tours. The tours are conducted on double decker buses so you have the option of sitting on the top of the bus in the open air. My dad and I did that for both of our tours and it was awesome.

We took the Golden Gate tour, which was fantastic. Our tour guide was great and we saw not only the Golden Gate Bridge, but also Palace of Fine Arts, which was beautiful, the Lone Sailor Memorial, The Presidio, and various other areas of town, including the section where the rich live. We drove past Danielle Steel's home, which is absolutely gorgeous.

After that tour, we hung out at the bus stop and waited for the next tour, which was the downtown bus tour. That was a lot of fun! We saw Pier 39, Union Square, the Tenderloin, China Town, City Hall, Coit Tower, and several other places. I took a lot of pictures and learned a lot about the city.

After the downtown tour, we made our way to Pier 39 and had some lunch before I set off for Alcatraz. My dad had already seen Alcatraz on a previous trip, but it had been many years since I went there so I set off for the prison. The ferry ride over was a nice short trip and I stood outside feeling the spray of water on my face. The weather was FANTASTIC for all of our trip, which we were both grateful for.

Alcatraz is a rather interesting place. Like any good ghost enthusiast, I got up early on Saturday morning before we left for San Francisco and did my research about the most haunted spots in the prison. I found that there were several, one of which is Cell Block D and specifically Cell D-14, which was part of the cells collectively known as The Hole. This was basically solitary confinement for the prisoners. I took a lot of pictures of that cell in particular and of course, stood in it for a few minutes to get the feel of the place.

Alcatraz is a great place to visit because you aren't limited to being with a group or a guide. If you want a guided tour with a live person, you can get that, but you can also get an audio tour that will take you around the place at your leisure. I did that because I like to stop and explore places along the way if I can and the audio tour was the best way to do so. They give you a pair of headphones and an audio device, which you can stop and start whenever you wish.

I really enjoyed Alcatraz. I'm sure none of the prisoners ever said that, but it is fun for a tourist. It's interesting to see the lives people led there, not just the prisoners, but also the guards. Many of the guards actually lived on the island with their families, which must have been very interesting. It's not exactly a great place to raise children, I wouldn't think, but it worked for them.

I spent about three hours in total on the ferry, on Alcatraz, and then coming back and it was great! My dad got the rental car and picked me up at the pier and we headed to Lombard Street, which is one of the most crooked streets in the United States. Dad and I decided that we just had to drive down it because you can't have a crooked street like that and NOT drive down it. Many years ago, my dad had driven down it so this was a refresher for him, but I was a Lombard Street newbie. We both enjoyed it.

Lombard street marked the end of our day in San Francisco. We were both ready to go find some dinner by that point. We had decided on driving back to Fremont and eating at Round Table Pizza. We don't have Round Table Pizza here in Texas so this was something we can't get at home. We split a large pizza between us and it was SO good!

Full from dinner, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation. Such a great time was had by us both in San Francisco and we are both planning to return!


Dauphyfan said...

Sounds like you guys had an awesome time. Your dad definitely had a special birthday with you.

I remember visiting San Francisco with Paul and his mom back in college. We saw Fisherman's Wharf and Haight/Ashbury streets, but the bay is about as close to Alcatraz as I got. From your description, there is soooooo much more to see! We hope to take a family trip in a couple years down there. Did you try the linguisa pizza? It's the best!

kbarsch said...

I've never been to San Francisco and have always wanted to go! We'll definitly have to revisit your blog whenever we do have the time to make it out there. So glad you had a great trip!

LegalMist said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog - and following me, no less, when I've been sick and (let's face it) lazy and haven't written anything for a week, and haven't written anything interesting for almost two weeks! Wow. I really do feel the love. :)

I enjoyed your travel stories. I love San Francisco. I'll be back to read some more entries later.