We arrived in San Francisco last Thursday and spent 5 days there. We were pleasantly surprised that San Francisco was nothing like Hollywood, there were far less hobos and the streets were much friendlier and lit up nice for Christmas especially down the main street spanning the city - Market Street. Our first night we stayed in a Motel 6 which was actually in a slightly more druggies part of town. We got asked to tell a guy on our floor that his mate was downstairs, as a key-card is required to use the lift. On opening his door, a cloud of weed smoke flew out. We both thought from what he was saying, that he was going to invite us in for a party or something xD
The next day we changed hotels to a much nicer place on Lombard Street, it's quite a well known street and is the home to many, many, many hotels and is also known as the yuppie/techie district. It is also known as the croockedest street in the world. I'd wasn't really bendy at all, but the hills were like nothing I've seen before. I have no idea how steep the roads were, but when at the top, it felt pretty high looking down. We stayed at the bottom unfortunately and most days had to walk to the top at least 4 times.
Our first day in San Francisco was Black Friday, this isn't so big at home, although it's getting there. Here it's pretty massive with all shops giving 20-75% off everything. We had both already bought all the clothes that we wanted to get... pretty much, but that didn't stop us visiting the Apple store. Me and Glenn had both said about getting a decent pair of headphones for a while, Glenn got a Bose pair which had about $20 off I think, not sure which ones he got though. I got a pair of Beats Studio which were reduced from $300 to $250, a complete an utter bargain considering they are £270 at home. I also bought a Nike Fuelband, which was reduced from $150 to $125, another great bargain with these being £130 at home. I also done a little shopping in the Ferrari store getting some aftershave for $30.
The next day was spent doing a bus tour. The tours are "hop on, hop off", so that is what we done. We only got off the bus once, which was at Golden Gate Bridge, it was a really cold day and the bridge was absolutely covered in fog which was blowing in from the sea. The fog never went over the city, just the bridge and the further inland sea. We thought it was a one off, but apparently it happens a lot in the summer, not so much in the winter though. Even though we couldn't get really clear pictures of the bridge, we still got some really good pictures. We then took a different bus tour that started at this stop, it took us to Sausalito, it's a nice little bay town. We didn't spend long here, just enough time to have a romantic meal, looking out onto the sea lol. We then made our way back to the start where we took a night tour. It was rather rubbish we didn't see much at all, although we did get to go over the newly built Bay Bridge and stopped on the other side at Treasure Island, where we got some pretty good pictures of the city.
Day 3, we went to Pier 39, which is really popular as a tourist attraction, it has rides, arcades, shops, restaurants and lots of sea lions. Free with our bus tour, we got entry to a 7D experience game.... yes 7D. It's a 3D ride, where you have to shoot attacking zombies and avoid shooting humans, who ever shoots the most wins. In our group we had two kids, Glenn came 1st, me 2nd and the kids 3rd and 4th. We had a look around the shops and got some souvenirs and went to see the sea lions. It was ridiculous how many of them there were, all crammed into a small area. They literally all sleep on top of each other, I have no idea how they sleep and they make so much noise. We went to Golden Gate Bridge in the evening and started walking along it, after 20ish minutes, security turned us around saying we need to go back the way we came, as the bridge was closed for pedestrians after a certain time.
The 4th day was my favourite, going to Alcatraz Island and seeing what remains of the abandoned prison. Luckily we booked this in advance, as the tour was booked up 2 days in advance. When getting to the island, we saw a 20 minute videos which told us about the prison, how many convicts were held there, the rules of the prison, who was held there and tonnes of other interesting facts. We then had a walk though the old rotten underground chambers, these were only ever used to hold prisoners when James A Johnston was the warden between 1934-1948. The wardens that came after Johnston, did not agree with this punishment. They never said why on the tour, but at a guess it's because they were not hygienic enough. One of the rules being that prisoners were entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention, anything else is a privilege. After coming out of the dungeon we went up to the main prison, there are 3 ordinary cell blocks and 1 solitary confinement block. Each block has it's own road name. We were given a headset which takes us around the entire prison, explaining exactly how certain prisoners tried to escape, what actions they took, where prisoners and guards had been killed. We got to see the cells of Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin who chiselled away at the walls of their cells with spoons and anything else they could get past the guards. Dummies of themselves were still in the cells, although I doubt they were the originals. There was so much stuff we saw I couldn't possibly mention it all here. But this place is an absolute must see, it's so cool.
On our last day we hired a car and went to Silicon Valley, we had a very small list of things we wanted to see. Our first stop, was the HP garage where HP was formed, it's now one of the USA historic landmarks. It was a quick stop before we moved on to the coolest workplace in the world IMO - The Googleplex. The goal for any modern day programmer, surely has to be to work for Google. We wasn't allowed inside the buildings, we were required to know someone who worked there, to guide us around. However we was allowed to walk around the campus, we got to see their t-rex skeleton, volleyball court, live Google search screen and the Android center, where they have statues of each of their operating system mascots. We then went to 1 Infinity Loop - The Mothership aka Apple HQ, this campus wasn't quite as cool as Google's but Apple do have their new campus well under way, which does look rather epic. We went into the Apple store, where we got Apple accessories which cannot be bought anywhere else, except maybe Ebay. Our last stop was out of Silicon Valley, but something I really wanted to see - Bixby Bridge and the 17 Mile Drive. It was an hour and a half drive normally, but we got stuck in traffic and by the time we got there it was pitch black and couldn't see a thing. Quite a shame, but maybe another time I'll come back here.
The next day we spent the entire day at the Greyhound center and then on the bus back to LA. Hopefully I never have a day as boring as that ever again. We are staying right by the airport in preparation for tomorrow when we fly to our final stop - New York. Yesterday we went to Santa Monica which was really nice, it's rated to be one of the top ten beaches in the world. It was really nice, the weather was even pretty good, I can only imagine in summer, it's 100 times better. Today we aren't doing a single thing, apart from going out to get food later.
This may be my last blog. I may do a quick one to summarise what we do in New York and close the book. In fact I probably will!
Thanks for reading.