Last stop….. San Francisco

We reached our last destination San Francisco, where we had no choice but to stay in a hostel as it’s so expensive in the city. Our hostel was modern and in a great location, just a few minutes walk from union square. Although the hostel was nice and one of the better ones we had while being away, this was still a shock to the system as we had got used to staying in motels. As being in the city we didn’t mind staying in the hostel too much as we were out sightseeing most of the time. We spent the first afternoon getting used to our new location and visiting some of the shops in Union square.
We had booked to visit the famous prison Alcatraz a few weeks ago, which we were pleased we had done as when we reached pier 33 where the ferry goes from to visit it, the next available ticket was in 2 weeks time! After a 12 minute ferry ride we arrived at the port for Alcatraz Island. This island is in the middle of the bay of San Francisco and 1.5 miles away from the coast of the city. It is intimating when you first reach it as it is set a 13 story climb up from the port. The prison is no longer in use and the last inmates left the island on 23rd march 1963. The prison officially closed it’s doors a few months later. We took an audio tour around the prison which had real prisoners commentating on it and telling their stories. It felt so real as they had included sounds as well alongside their stories. There are four cells blocks in the prison, segregation and isolation (which were bigger then the normal cells, due to them being built later and the prisoners spending 24 hours a day in there and on,y allowed out once a week). We saw the recreation area, as well as the dining hall, morgue and the showers. We heard the story of the escape that was planned in June 1962, which prisoners used spoons to try and dig their way out and swim to freedom! The nickname for the prison was ‘the rock’ and throughout our time visiting it, although it was daylight it was still quite scary! We spent about 2 hours exploring before getting back on the ferry to San Francisco.
When we booked Alcatraz we also got an offer for an open top bus tour which incorporated 3 different tours and we could use one each day. The first tour we took was the downtown tour, this showed us sights such as Fisherman’s wharf, lower nob hill, china town, Lombard street and pier 39. Fisherman’s wharf was very cosmopolitan and not what we were expecting. We had a traditional lunch of clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl and lid at one of the cute restaurants. Fisherman’s wharf had a lot of restaurants and shops alongside a harbour and all were unique and interesting to see. This area was one of our favourites in San Francisco. That night we went to the cinema to see 22 Jump Street as the tickets are a lot cheaper then home.
The next day we took the golden gate and Sausalito bus tour and got to see the famous Golden Gate Bridge! This was an amazing sight and a famous landmark in San Francisco. The bridge is only 1.4 miles long and many people walk or cycle it. We drove over the bridge and the views of the city were fantastic on the other side. We then continued to a town called Sausalito which neither of us had heard of, but was beautiful and set on a harbour with the houses up in the hills. Danielle Steele and Robin Williams own houses here and it was also the setting for the inspiration behind Otis Redding’s song ‘sitting on the dock of the bay.’ The weather in San Francisco was cooler then we original thought it would be, but we still sat on top deck to see all the views.
That night we decided to buy tickets for the launch night of the film jersey boys, and while buying the tickets at the cinema, we saw a queue of people and Dan decided to see what the fuss was about. They were queuing to get into a press release of the film ‘and so it goes’ featuring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton. This film is not out until the end of July. Dan managed to get a free ticket from the ladies she was talking to and then went down the queue asking for another one! We were in luck and got two free tickets into this event! What we didn’t realise was that after the film, a speaker was answering questions from the audience and this turned out to be the famous director Rob Reiner! He had directed loads of films including stand by me, when Harry met Sally and the bucket list. He also has played several different parts in different films. We were in the front row so lucky enough to be able to see and hear him clearly. We couldn’t believe our luck!
Our last full day in San Francisco, we spent doing the golden gate park tour and got to see different parts of San Fran, including japan town, golden gate park, civic centre and the hippy part of San Fran called Haight district. This was like something out of the sixties and Jimmy Hendrix used to live here. All the shops and buildings were in different psychedelic colours and it was great to witness this different part of San Fran. We were glad to be able to use our bus ticket fully and see all parts of San Fran. The open top bus is a great way to see everything and also comes with live commentary so you know exactly what you are looking at.
When we weren’t on a bus, we had a look at the many shops in June centre of San Fran. The city has loads of designer shops but also really good cheaper options. This is where we were! The shopping here rivals New York and the atmosphere in the shopping districts was lively and busy. As this was our last Saturday night in San Fran, we treated ourselves to dinner and cocktails at the Hard Rock Cafe in pier 39.
San Francisco is a very unique city where the houses are all so pretty and built on 43 different hills. The city is also famous for its cable car and although we didn’t go on it we saw it loads. Our time in San Fran was nearly over, our last two nights before heading home we are spending near the airport as it was a much cheaper option and we’ve run out of money!
As this is our last entry from our trip, we are grateful to everyone who has taken time to read our updates, we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have done writing it. We are very grateful to our friend Mark who has designed and maintained our website, as we would never have had it without him! We also are grateful for all our visitors who have taken time to come out and see us along the way!
This trip had been the best decision we have ever made and we have experienced things we never thought we would and know how lucky we are to have done it! We are sad writing this but happy we have all our memories stored to look back on in years to come, and looking forward to seeing our friends and family at home.
Thank you
Love Clara and Dan xxxx

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