Thursday, 30 March 2017

Day 4: Last day in San Francisco

Today we breakfasted at Lori's diner on Powell Street. This 50s styled diner with its great decor and memorabilia also served up great food. I think I am getting far to used to a large breakfast.

Even Elvis had popped into serenade us.

Today was M's last day in San Francisco as she was flying back to Canada in the afternoon. I was staying on and joining a tour group to see more of Western USA. We just had a couple more hours together and went to have a look at MOMA as I had heard the building is an interesting design.

It was an impressive building. Entrance was $25. I think I'm just spoilt in London as all our museums are free entry. We didn't actually have the time to visit anyway so after admiring the building we continued to look around.

Looking in the opposite direction we spotted an old church amongst the highrise modern buildings. Thinking it was the Cathedral we went to have a look. We walked in and were taken by surprise as the church was packed. Being a Saturday we hadn't expected a mass to be taking place mid morning nor were we expecting a large number of police standing at the back. We crept back outside and discovered that the St Patrick's day Parade was happening today and many of the participants began the day attending mass at St Patrick's Church.

We were very close to the start of the parade so it was the perfect opportunity to have a look  at everyone getting ready for the parade.

A group of Irish Wolfhounds were getting ready to join the parade.

Irish dancing,of course.

Even the police horses had a shamrock painted on their hind quarters.

There were many elegantly dressed folk around.

This lady was patiently waiting for it all to begin.

But it was time for M to collect her luggage from the hotel and make her way to the airport. It was a sad farewell but no doubt we will be meeting up in another unknown, exciting city, hopefully in the not too distant future.

After saying goodbye I decided to have a look at the cable car museum which turned out to be more than a museum. It is located in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse. The upper part of the Museum has various tram car items and three antique cars from the 1870s. This overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables.

There are a total of 40 cable cars of which a maximum of 26 cars are in operation on the streets at any one time. Although cable cars have batteries, they do not operate under their own power and can only move by gripping onto the moving cable.

The winding machinery keeps the cables moving at 9.5 miles per hour all day long. There are four separate cables, each a continuous loop that moves in channels under the streets. The cables come directly into the powerhouse from under the street.

Being close to Lombard Street I went to have a closer look at the hair pin bends on what is known as the 'crooked street'. They were constructed in 1922 and were designed to reduce the hill's natural 27% gradient which was too steep for the majority of vehicles.

Quite surprised to see these segways  making their way round all the bends.

In the evening I met the Gadventures group I would be travelling with for the next week.  Our tour leader, a Californian named Stirling, introduced us all. There were just 6 of us from different parts of the world, New Zealand, Holland, France, Austria and the UK. Tomorrow we will be visiting Yosemite National Park.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Day 3 San Francisco

Looking for a different place for breakfast we wandered into the Tenderloin area of San Francisco which was very close to where we were staying. There was a large number of homeless people on the streets as well as drug addicts. Apparently they gather in this area because there are 3 local churches that provide free meals twice a day. Noticed this impressive looking theatre as we looking for a diner.

The Orpheum theatre was originally a vaudeville house and then a movie cinema but probably better known as the theatre where Hair was first performed.

Eventually found somewhere to eat and afterwards caught a bus to Alamo Square to have a look at the row of Victorian houses with the city in the background.

Another reason for being in this part of town was to wander over to Haight-Ashbury, the centre of the Hippie world in the 60s. I couldn't come to San Francisco and not see where it all started. Maybe I should have brought my Afghan coat with me (yes I did have one!) or at the very least I should have worn some flowers in my hair.

There were a few signs still around but more for the tourists buying  their souvenirs.

From there we made our way into Golden Gate Park. It is 3 mils long and half a mile wide so it was impossible to see all that it had to offer.

 The park is credited with having the very first children's playground in the U.S as well as this Herschel-Spillman Carousel built in 1912 .

There are some beautiful walks through the park as well as every activity going from fishing to golf.

There is even a Dutch windmill, a present from Queen Wilhelmina in 1902.

We walked the length of the park which brought us out at Ocean beach. By now the weather had changed from a dull cloudy day to a very sunny, clear blue skies day. The beach was beautiful with huge waves crashing onto the sand.

We took our shoes off to dip our toes into the Pacific Ocean but it was far too cold to go any further. It had been a long day so we were fortunate to be able to get a bus back to Market Street just a few minutes walk from the hotel.