A Travellerspoint blog

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Let's Go To San Francisco

Where the flowers grow, in your hair ("At least something's growing there": Arthur)

sunny 70 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Room 309, Laurel Inn, San Francsico

A brilliant drive down the rest of Highway 1 this morning. We had not done this stretch before and, well, it's recommended. A few miles from a big city and your in rural anywhere, and by the Pacific at the same time. Do it, do it if you can!


Then a few busy minutes back on US101 and there it is, Golden Gate bridge. No traffic queues. No traffic hold ups. And within a few minutes, straight into a garage space at the hotel. Phew, that was easy.

The desk clerk says the room is not ready yet (it's only 12.30) but there is something special there for Bob's birthday as well as giving us the parking for free as a gift (normally $18 per day).

Outside are 3 buses and a trolley bus route down to wherever we want to go. $18 buys a visitors' 3-day passport for unlimited travel on MUNI buses, streetcars and cablecars.

Everyone not in the know waits, for an hour or more, at the end of the line to get on the cablecar, but they never fill them so, a couple of stops down the line, you can often just hop on (Remember that tip!). We did today.


When we got back from a trip to get our MUNI tickets and some bits and pieces of shopping, back to move into our room. 3rd floor in Pacific Heights with a room with a picture window view of this beautiful, stunning city. We can even see the bay, Coit Tower, The Pyramid, City Hall......

Form the buses/streetcars the views are mouthopening (?). Despite the steep hills the grids are dead straight (with one exception, Lombard Street) so you can see for miles down one street or avenue.

We have been in touch with our friend Emrys and will meet him for lunch tomorrow. He works somewhere Downtown.

Now off to get a trolley bus somewhere and just walk around. That's all you need to do here. We absolutely love it!

Where's me flowers and beads..... I'm excited just typing this. Wow!

If you were there, you won't remember it. Remember what?

Night, man!

Posted by Johnash 18:28 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

I Left My Heart

... in San Francisco

sunny 74 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Bag End, a very wet 29/11/2010. Just be browsing back through the blogs and found this one was never published. or was it? D'you remember seeing this before? Hope all well. Planning another trip for 2012. Watch this space. The one between John's ears!

Room 309, Laurel Inn, San Francisco

Bob's just been re-organising our bags for our return trip which starts tomorrow. We don't fly until 4.50pm but he likes to get it done in good time.

We can then have an early drive, which we have done each morning, trying to emulate Bullitt up and down the steepest streets we can find. Heart stopping. I said to Bob this morning, I'm getting too old for this. But didn't mean it.

We found Bullitt's house, the market where he shopped, still there, and Chalmer's (the politician) mansion. Then drove, at reasonable speed, some of the route taken during the chase.

We've gone up and down on cable cars, trams and trolley buses. We've taken the ferry to Sausalito and back and generally bummed around. The only criticism I have is that locals are impatient drivers. God help you if you hesitate on one of the hundreds of 4-way crossings.

All the guide books tell you not to drive in San Francisco, it's too busy. Rubbish. It's a great city for driving in. Provided you have somewhere to park, else it's a nightmare.

Let the pictures speak for themselves (or almost).

This is Baker Beach. Very accessible with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge when clear. And, amazingly, on a warm day, it's even a Naturist beach (NB do not click on that if you are easily shocked!).

Alcatraz. We're going there tonight so, if you hear no more, you'll know they kept us in!

From ferry to Sausalito.

View from our room. The photo does not do it justice.


It doesn't look like it on here, but we're driving near vertical slopes here. At the top, you get a STOP sign and you are supposed to give way as necessary. Problem is, all you can see is your bonnet in front of you!

That's it. Holiday over. Almost. So no more, possibly, I'm afraid, until we are home, safe and sound. We're off to jail now. Thank you for sticking with us.

Oh, we have a kitchenette with the room here, so we have bought TV dinners and they are in the icebox ready for our possible return from Alcatraz.

Added on 31/12/09 as a test
You thought Golden Gate Bridge straddled the entrance to The Bay? Nope. It's in a field near Oakland!

Posted by Johnash 15:27 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Alcatraz and Home

Where would we rather be?

sunny 62 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

Bag End, Camino de la Fuente Meca, Mazarrón Spain

Well, a lot of it is now just a hazy memory although some of the video we have watched brings it back to us. Without a record on video of these travels, I think there is much we would forget.

Probably not our boat trip to Alcatraz on our last night in San Francisco.

This federal prison (it never acted as a penitentiary; just a place to lock safely away America's most desperate criminals, though I never worked out what Burt Lancaster and his canaries had done to offend anyone, with the possible exception of his acting?).

The number or tourists are limited on the evening visits and get booked up well in advance. Just one boat load, well it was far from full, is allowed on and special talks and programmes are laid on by the National Park Service which now looks after and manages the island. So it is all very worthy and notably lacking in tack, to the obvious disappointment of some of the visitors!


After the excellent self-guided audio tour (which really caught the atmosphere of the place, with original voices of prisoners and spooky sound effects, especially when telling the story of the one successful break-out plan), there were a number of talks and other special programmes but these were not well advertised and many missed them.


The place was only open as a federal prison for 29 years but, before that, it has been military fortress then prison. For a fascinating history, see these pages. Yes, I know it was called a penitentiary, but encouraging penitence never came into it.

We'd completely forgotten that the island was occupied by protesting Native Americans ("Injuns": Arthur) from 1969 until 1971 when they were overpowered by Federal Marshals. The original leader was Richard Oakes, a Mohawk Indian. (anyone remember that name?). Unfortunately, a number of buildings were destroyed by fire during the occupation and they only remain as shells to this day.

If you ever plan a trip to Alcatraz, book well in advance for the evening trip and do not, do NOT forget to take some warm clothes! We have never seen so many shivering blue people as on the boat back to Embarcadero.


One story that caught our imagination was that of the children of the prison officers who lived on the island. They went to school on the mainland by boat each day and were allowed to bring friends home occasionaly. Some sleep over! Apparently they were very popular kids at school....

Our trip home was enjoyable, thanks to British Airways Club World and Club Europe. It has taken us a few days to settle back into home routines but already are talking about our next venture to North America. Watch this space!


There will be one more page here in a few days with a few bits and pieces I forgot to put in earlier.

Thanks for all your kind comments and support. Much appreciated!

Posted by Johnash 12:27 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

You Didn't Remind Me!

Breakfast on the subway to O'Hare

sunny 76 °F
View USA 2009 on Johnash's travel map.

In this Blog I said I'd tell you about the guy on the subway in Chicago and his breakfast. You didn't remind me!

Anyways, I mentioned we were going to get the subway out to the airport. Which we did. Rapid, fairly comfortable, and a lot quicker that sitting in traffic jams, which are permanent, on the freeway. Very easy, too, provided you get to a subway station with elevators. Ours had two; one down to the booking hall and the next right down to the platform.

In our "practice run" the night before, we'd noticed that a good place to get on the train, given we would be travelling in the rush hour, would be in the middle, where the guard would stand if he wan't standing at the end of the train. Loads of room to stash our bags.

In my rush to get on and into the guard's cubby hole, I cut the corner with my wheely bag and it got jammed. I looked back and it seemed to have a large brown paper bag all jammed up in the wheels. A substantial guy was bending over in his seat trying to release my case from the large paper bag. He was rather distressed and sweating somewhat. It was a warm day. "How kind of him" I thought, "to go to the trouble to free-up my case".

Then the horrible truth gradually dawned. In the large brown paper bag was the poor guy's breakfast. As my case cut the corner, it must have got tangled up in his Super-Giga-Giant-Egg-n-Sausage-Double-Mc-Muffett with Triple Fries. I was tugging my case one way and the poor distracted guy was trying to tug his breakfast the other.

Eventually the two were parted, leaving a rather horrible mess on the subway carriage floor, and I disappeared quickly into the guard's cubby hole. I dread to think what the poor guy's Mc-Muffet was like after that battering!

(No video, I'm afraid, but I do have more yodellin' video if anyone would like some!)

But here are 3 more pictures, sort-of relevant.

On the subway after the brown paper bag incident.

This is probably where the poor guys lives. No wonder he needs to cheer himself up with a good breakfast.

John chicken-souped out of ordering the kosher meals on the way back and this is what he go instead. Next time.... It was supposed to be Spare Rib with home-mashed potatoes, or some such.

Talking of which (next time, that it), yes we have already booked for next time. Bob said, "why don't we go again next year whilst we're still able". So we are.

Flights booked are with American Airlines, this time. We had almost enough of their miles to upgrade our flights again. And we bought the rest. Also had to pay $350 per leg for each upgrade but, hopefully, worth it.

We have booked LHR-MIA-SAV (Savannah, Georgia via Miami) and Boston-LHR to return. We still have to work out how to get from here to LHR as BA will be withdrawing their Alicante flights as from October.

Watch this space! And I still have a few "amusing" observations to type up from our last trip. You lucky people.
(Paul wanted a quiz question in each blog, so here it is: Who's catch phrase was that? Clue: he was short and wore glasses).

I also have 9 hours of video to edit down to watchable proportions. I really should try and get this done before we start filming the next lot...

Posted by Johnash 04:20 Archived in USA Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

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