27th May- Saturday. We leave home at 6:30 by taxi and arrive in San Francisco (SFO) at 11:30 after an uneventful direct flight. Thanks to excellent instructions of our Intervac friends we have no trouble in finding our way, first by BART (Bay Area Regional Transport) than by bus. Small problem: payment in the bus is only possible with the exact amount. We have to let go a bus and order coffee to obtain change. Robin, a neighbour of the Hunts, welcomes us, gives us keys and shows us the exchange apartment. Spacious, but dark because built as a “pijpenla” (long and narrow).
The kitchen in the middle is without any windows and the windows at the back and front can open only a bit. However: the bonus is a common roof terrace (including a wind screen and barbecue) with a beautiful view on the Bay. The location of the apartment is absolutely top, five minutes walking from Pier 39, the heart of the Bay area. After having stocked up on groceries we collapse at 18:00 (6 pm) local time and sleep a sound 12 hours (Albertien) or with breaks (Frits, trying to get the computer to work).
28th May-Sunday. Rising at 6 am, we make a leisure breakfast in the excellently equipped kitchen and arrive at Pier 39 before 10 am. We are the only visitors at the tourist office and receive loads of good information on Frisco and other attractions in California (Ca). We go for the CITY pass which provides three days of free public transport and admittance to three attraction you can choose from a list.
After coffee we listen to the choir of one of Frisco’s high-schools in the cold and fog. But the performance is nice. Because Pier 39 is for 39 years an Entertainment Centre they organize, lucky for us, special performances on the pier. In the afternoon the weather is better, and we visit the characteristic Coit Tower (way too busy, we will come back to go to the top of the tower another day) and walk down to and through China town.
An amazing numbers of elderly Chinese, old, small and wrinkled, and tall, well dressed and well fed Chinese looking youngsters. Many Chinese came to work on the railroad. The lingua franca is Cantonese, still spoken by many Chinese here, opposed to Mandarin the main Chinese spoke in China these days.
Bought very tasty mangoes. Back home we enjoy Happy Hour at the roof terrace and retire early after a home cooked pasta-meal.
29th May Memorial Day. In chilly weather we take the bus to the Presidio near the Golden Gate Bridge to what seems to be a nice hiking area. But walking is a disappointment: lots of asphalt and few footpaths. The most interesting thing consists of a replica of a Greek temple, the Palace of Fine Arts.
Popular among models and wedding couples for top pictures. We activate our three day muni public transport card and continue to the Golden Gate Park (not situated near the famous bridge!). We get off too early and end up in the famous Haight, the heart of the 60’s hippie-culture. Amazing how many perennial hippies still frequent the Haight. Many Indian/ Tibetan/ Nepalese etc. shops, incense abound (which Frits also smells and takes for marihuana). The weather remains cold, so we visit the Academy of Sciences (one of the City Pass options). The show in the planetarium is not about the galaxy as we expect, but on flora and fauna of California, also interesting, especially the filming from the sky and zooming in. The tropical garden which also hosts an aquarium at the bottom is fantastic.
Dinner with Chines take-away (so-so) and early to bed.
30th May-Tuesday. Skype with Do, Albertiens sister, from the study, our favourite – because in the morning sunniest – hang out. By foot and street-car to the farmers market at Pier 1, the Ferry building. Prices are outrageous, much higher in dollars than we would pay here in euros while the rate is about 1:1. Have great dim-sum for lunch. Weather remains cold, making us decide to go for another indoor attraction, the Exploratorium at Pier 15.
Similar, but much bigger than Nemo in Amsterdam or the former Evoluon in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. We skip the out-door expo because of the cold wind. Many do it yourself experiments using your senses (eyes, ears, balancing – e.g. walking on pebbles). We dine out at Trestle, recommended in the Frisco’s guide with a fixed 3-course menu at 35$. Excellent dinner, but very pricy wine (44$ for the cheapest bottle).
31st May-Wednesday. Beautiful weather! By cable car from Powell Street to Market Street.
Near Lombard the cable car stops, unable to master the next bump. Driver’s mistake? After 15 minutes a pushcart provides the extra impulse and off we go further up. Because we are early, we have seats outside: in the sun and ideal for taking pictures. On to the market at Market Street to buy vegetables and then coffee, first on the terrace of a charity café at Market –lots of homeless – and later at Union Square.
Macy’s has sale and as usually Albertien sees just the blue sandals she needs (wants). Back with the street car to Fisherman’s Warf (Pier 41) for the Bay cruise (also CITY-pass). The cruise brings on via Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge, while the fog increases, but waning just as we reach.
Upon return the many spectators appear to be watching sea-lions (and not the departure and arrival of boats as we think). Again happy hour at the roof terrace and home-made pasta with fresh vegetables for dinner. The three day Muni subscription has ended.
1st June-Thursday. In the morning we pay a visit to the aquarium at Pier 39. Big and spectacular fish, as usual which you can spot from a route under the aquarium, the fish swimming above you. We make some nice pictures of the sea-lions which smell and make terrible noises.
Otherwise a quiet day with household chores (washing!) and planning of our first trip to see other parts of Ca. We want to see some National Parks up north and drive the famous coast way N1 along the Pacific Ocean.