We began our day by calling our daughter to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Nice to chat with her for awhile.
It's a sunny day, promising warm temperatures - at least away from the ocean.
The plan is to 'do' San Francisco, but we would have only a few hours so we thought we should choose just one attraction and focus on that. For the first time this trip, I was not in the least bit excited about seeing anything on our planned 'itinerary'. In fact, I wanted to just go check into our hotel in Santa Clara and lay around. If we could, I'd have taken my husband and just gone to sit on a beach and watch the ocean.
But......we couldn't just drive through San Francisco and not see anything! So, we began to discuss what our choice would be.
In the meantime, 'Jack' took us across a bridge that was obviously NOT the Golden Gate.
He was taking us to our ultimate destination - our hotel in Santa Clara. So, we turned around and went back across the bridge that Jack had taken us across - to Jack's distress. (ReCALculating....) LOL. (You have to 'know' Jack to get that joke)
A view of the bay from the bridge...
Yellow grass and big deciduous trees cover the hills in this area....
Or, trees alone cover the hills...
An interesting flower.....
So now, we are going the right way - toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Shortly before the bridge, we saw a whole 'town' of houses on the water. This sight was on the 'wrong' side of the truck so I could not get a photo (this time)
But we did get to the Golden Gate.
First, we travelled through a tunnel......
When we came over this bridge 36 years ago, it was so foggy we did not realize we were even on the bridge until we came to the toll booth on the other side! I had so been looking forward to the Golden Gate bridge!
The next day, Jim willingly paid the toll a second time in order to take me over the bridge and back in the sunshine.
This time, we crossed the bridge in the sunshine to begin with!
As we were crossing the bridge, we decided we'd like to walk across the bridge as our 'one thing' we do in San Fran.
But.......how to get to the starting point?
A GPS only works when you can tell it where to go. We did not know the name of the place that would be the starting point of the walking tour.
We drove for almost an hour - largely through the Golden Gate Park (bigger than Central Park in NYC). During this time, I was reminded that San Francisco housing is fairly unique....
Tall and skinny homes adjoined to their neighbors....
But each home is unique. differences in windows, iron work, details, and color make each rowhouse very definable.
In this city of row housing, there are some stand alone homes - even at the waterfront.......
There are also apartment buildings......
Some are very modern looking.....
Some are more 'traditional'....
Most house their vehicles underneath the home itself.
The housing reminds me of Central London - except that here, the homes are more individual. In London, they are pretty much all the same in each row.
Many of the streets arte extremely steep and lined with houses like this.
But back to our search for the beginning of the bridge walk.....
We'd been driving around for about an hour. The traffic makes it a little stressful when you don't know where you are going.
The Golden Gate Park (which we were driving through ) was absolutely gorgeous! (Golden Gate Park is bigger than Central Park in New York City, BTW) But there were so many people! And not a spot to park anywherere!
We finally happened on a spot along a street lined with parked cars and stopped long enough to change our minds and tell Jack to take us to Fisherman's Wharf. Since we did not know what name or address to put into the search engine to take us to the bridge walk, that is.
The first corner we took brought us exactly to where we had been wanting to be - the beginning of the walking tour!!!! WE drove in but the tiny parking lot was full. Buses full of tourists came in, dropped off their load, and drove out. Obviously, this is how so many people can be on the bridge without the city having to make a huge parking lot.
We drove around in circles for awhile, but it soon became apparent that no one was going to leave so we continued on toward Fisherman's Wharf.
(Some of the photos above were taken on our 'journey' to FW)
Once we got into the vicinity of Fisherman's Wharf, we began to follow the 'Parking for Fisherman's Wharf' signs. Our experience so far in the city told us there was no way we would be able to find street parking at the sight.
$25 later, after hiding our 'valuables' in our truck which was parked in a privately owned lot, we headed out across the street and found we were at Pier 39 - very similar to Fisherman's Wharf.
So we headed over there. I had read that there were a lot of Sea Lions that 'hang out' at Pier 39 so that was an attraction for me.
BTW...... I noticed, at the waterfront, that there is a "Hop on - Hop off" bus tour available in San Fran. This is the company that Kathryn and I used while in London. It did not work well with a baby, but I would have certainly booked it for San Fran had I known it was available! If I'm ever in a major tourist city again, I'll look to see if that service is available.
So....Pier 39......People, People everywhere! After spending so much time all alone, this was 'culture shock' for us. We're not ones who enjoy a crowd at the best of times.
We were hungry, so we headed for one of the many eaterys lining the pier. I think it was called "Chowder's". Of course, the featured food comes from the sea. Their specialty - clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. (This is a specialty at any SF 'wharf/pier' restaurant). We chose fish and chips. (Yeah, WAY off our low carb lifestyle)
Oh, they were good!
Pier 39 is basically a shopping mall. One geared to tourists, with a nautical theme in decor and dishes offered at the many restaurants, but shopping just the same.
Crowded shopping at that.
We walked the 'outer deck' behind the shops and while we were no longer being jostled by people, now the winds were buffeting us.
We took some photos of Alcatraz and the bay.....
As we rounded the second corner of the deck, loud barking filled the air. Obviously, we'd come upon the resident Sea Lions. Still, knowing they were going to be there did not in any way prepare me for what we saw! These animals have made Pier 39 their home - their choice - since 1990. At one point, there were more than 1700 sea lions living here!
Even at much less than 1700, that's A LOT of sea lions in one place!
Those 2 fellas in the center of the photo spent most of the time we were watching scuffling with each other and one other for dominance on that particular platform.
I have some video of the fighting trio but haven't had a chance to YouTube it yet and Blogger won't load video just from my computer.
There were 3 sea lions on the platform below then this big fella jumped up, barking loudly and aggressively moving toward them. They all dived off the platform in 3 different directions. The big one settled in for a nap, eventually rolling onto his side and lifting the flippers on his upper side up to the sun.
Well, that was fun - if a little cool and a lot noisy.
Back on the main walkway between the shops, we stopped to watch a wanna be comedian juggle 3 'razor sharp machettes' while balanced on a board teetering on a ball.
A double decker carousel awaits riders.......
We ate here once - but not here. We ate at Bubba Gump's in San Jose when we were here for Benjy's wedding. If I remember correctly, it was good - both food and service.
A store that sells all kinds of things that are modified to accomodate left handed people. Very cool. They have a website that ships all over the world, in case you are left handed and would like a left hand pen. Or stirring spoon. Or guitar. Or.........
Thought this was kind of cute.....
The planters on the boardwalk all had baskets of flowers.....
We'd soon had enough of this place - we weren't on a shopping holiday, after all.
Near the entry to the boardwalk, we heard some live jazz music. I don't know about Jim, but I was very surprised to find there was only one musician! Playing a guitar and a mouth organ, accompanied by recorded beats, and singing the lyrics - he was great!
After listening to Mr. Earl for a little while, we sat down to discuss what we wanted to do next. We'd both had enough of the press of people and traffic and I had NO feelings of "I want to see that!" or "That would be so cool!", even though San Francisco history has fascinated me for years. So, we told Jack to take us to our hotel in Santa Clara.
It took awhile to get out of the waterfront area.
We were very interested in these huge stone fronts to the different piers. At least a dozen of these.
Jim looked these up on the internet but could find nothing.
This clock tower is a part of the last big pier front - huge neon letters spelling San Francisco face the bay on the back of the building.
Lots of palms - in spite of the cool weather.
Young Men's Christian Association.....(YMCA)......
I think these 'fire escapes' are there so folks living in this building can come outside and look out over the bay......
Once out of the waterfront area, the freeway passed over residential areas.
The people in this area do not let a little thing like no level ground stop them from building.....
San Francisco to Santa Clara is one continuous urban area. The freeway is 6 lanes all the way. It occurred to us that leaving the city at 2:30 was a good decision since we were probably missing rush hour traffic.
After checking into our hotel and unpacking the truck, we relaxed for awhile before heading out for supper.
We had an amazing steak supper at "Black Angus Steakhouse" while we watched the hockey game on one of the big screen TVs in the bar area in which we had been seated.
We then drove to Palo Alto (about 10 minutes away) to see Penninsula Bible Church - where Ray Stedman was pastor for more than 40 years. If you know Jim, you know that he has listened to dozens and dozens of Pastor Stedman's sermons over the past couple years. He was an amazing teacher.
We had a laid back evening, knowing we were not packing up and leaving the next morning - which meant that we could sleep in somewhat, at least.