Day 25: San Francisco- Lost Cameras, Golden Bridges and escaping from Alcatraz!

Ok to say that I have slipped behind on these blog posts would be an absolute understatement. I’m sorry. I am especially sorry to Bobo who has been on my case to get them done. So let’s see how much of the best holiday ever I can actually remember shall we? I feel like I’m on the Generation Game…cuddly toy. I also guarantee that I will flit between multiple tenses whilst writing this! You have been warned.

So I left you last time with the us watching A Streetcar Named Desire in the Castro and getting lost trying to find Renee and Ben. Our days were now numbered (as in it was our last full day) in San Fran and we still had so much left that we wanted to see. Ben played the role of tour guide for the morning, and boy does he play this well, and showed us some more cool spots in downtown San Fran. I actually have no idea if they were downtown or uptown funk you up but they were somewhere in the Fran.

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#carparty

The morning started stressful as I realised that I had lost my camera. My brand new for the trip camera. On it were all of our holiday memories that I had not yet uploaded to the iPad and countless shots of Emma sleeping on transport that she refuses to let me upload…it’s Ok Bobo. I’ll save them for your wedding! So there was major panic over the lost camera. Did I leave it in the cinema? Did I leave it in the taxi? Did I leave it on the rainbow bricked road of the Castro. I retraced our steps and started ringing around the various establishments that we popped our heads into yesterday and the delightful men in the Human Rights Center (note American spelling) had found it and  kept it safe for me. Their exact words over the phone went something like this:

“Girl. I saw your camera on the counter and almost cried. All those memories you lost. We had a look through your pictures and yer its you girl! What an utterly fabulous trip you have had. Pop in later today and we will return it to you baby.”

Could I have left it in a nicer place?

The plan was to explore with Ben in the morning and then he would take us to the cameras location so the next few snaps were taken on the smashed up iPhone. We head to North Beach first to look at books and eat pastries. Never has one sentence made me miss the holiday more. This is one of The Fran’s coolest areas and where players like Jack Kerouac (one of my all time favourites) and Allen Ginsberg used to hang out. So it’s safe to say that some super cool stuff used to happen here. We popped into bars to see the old drinking grounds and spent a lot of time in City Lights Bookstore and it made my desire to own a bookstore grow one million percent stronger. I picked up a book and made notes of at least 50 more that I wanted to pick up back at home…damn luggage allowances.

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In my eyes no trip to a bookstore is ever complete without buying pastry too. We made our way to the gorgeous Le Chat Rouge where we managed to also dodge a parking ticket and picked up pastries to eat whilst looking at The Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately the weather at the bridge had other ideas and due to fog we couldn’t see a bloody thing. So we parked up the car, worked on Emma’s upper body strength with closing her own door, and went for a stroll around the Palace of Fine Arts instead. This was built in one of those olden time festival things where folks like to recreate old stuff form other countries that aren’t their own…Wow can we just pause to applaud the history lesson there folks…you are so very welcome. Despite what the name might lead you to believe there is now no Fine Art there and Bobo found the place a little soulless…bloody art historians. I liked the ducks, and the water and the fact that I could run around and pretend I was a tinnie tiny person in a giant’s world.

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Spot Blunt!

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Beyond excited!

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After a skip around the lake we headed back to the GG bridge and like 87% of the fog had lifted. That was good enough for us so we took time to take photos and freeze in the wind. We didn’t have time to drive across it but that’s what we will do when we visit again. We did however have time to drive down Lombard street. You know the famous zigzag one. Driving down it was cool but I failed massively with the pictures whilst hanging out of the window like a dog. So instead I made a quick dash out of the car at the bottom and captured a pick or two, with all the tourists and with a parrot….let’s call him Patrick.

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Here we divided and conquered the rest of The Fran.

Ben dropped me back at the Castro so I could pick up the camera and he dropped Emma at the MOMA…which I think is the Modern Art Museum…that would make sense right? Bo is still yet to tell me what her favourite piece of art was here.

I had a fab time at the Castro again. I picked up my camera from the incredibly kind men at the HRC who were full of hugs and air kisses. I found an amazing unicorn café to catch up on some blog writing…lol, that lasted. I went into the Museum of LGBT history which was tiny but had some cool stuff in and then somehow found myself at a bar with three gay men in their 80s who told me what it was like to grow up in the Fran. They were so cool.  Forgotten their names now though haven’t I. But thank you my men… Let’s call you Simon, Keith and Philippe. Major love to you.

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I then caught a streetcar and screamed Stella at the top of my voice whilst boarding. People looked at me weirdly but that’s alright. We were all meeting at the ferry port as we had a one way trip to Alcatraz planed for our last evening. The streetcar journey was beyond stressful. The driver kicked us off because he was tired and it took at least 20 minutes for a new one to fit us on. In that time I was nearly decapitated by a skateboard three times and actually met a mini Sheldon Cooper who was obsessed with trains.

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I made it just in time to get the boat to Alcatraz and a trip to the toilet…although both myself and Renee got pushed to the back of the line a few times!!

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It was cold. I mean cold to the bone but we still managed to stand being outside the entire journey. It was pretty spooky. The famous San Fran fog was setting in once again and it made things pretty eerie. The fella on the microphone did an amazing job at giving us a bit of history to the island and we were gave him the audience participation he so desperately craved. Even Bobo did. You go Bobo!!

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We made it into the island and met our tour guide who walked us up the pretty steep hill. If you have never been on a tour with me before than you have probably lucked out as I am beyond annoying and  like to be as close to the tour guide as I can possibly get. I ran off from the others and became a little mouse who lived in his pocket so I could ask him all my questions. At one point I even ran up a pretty steep hill as he tried to get away from me. But we were first in the line for the audio guides.#winningatlife

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I have never been to anything quite like Alcatraz before. I can’t even imagine how scary it would have been to have been a prisoner here before. We did the night-time tour, which was brill as we got max spooky effects. The slamming shut of the doors, the solitary confinement rooms, the stories of prisoners stealing keys and killing others, the arguments at meal times and the teenie tiny cells. One of the highlights of the tour was listening to one of the tour guides give a talk about max security prisons today verses what we had seen at The Traz. Basically the conditions at the Traz, despite what they looked like, are hugely better than they are today in American prisons. It is an area that I am hugely interested in and it was fab to hear someone so passionate about the topic talk. I was a little like Monica from friends and answered all of the questions. Everyone hated me. I was in my element!

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Bobo’s dream cell!

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We explored every inch and realised that we had to race down the hill to catch the boat back to The Fran mainland if we were going to make our reservation. We again realised how cold it was and how our Gap tourist hoodies were really not up the job! We secured the hoods around our heads and ran the whole way to the boat. We made it on and were lucky to get seats. The boat was utterly packed so we didn’t make it outside. Bowen also managed to stay awake the whole journey. That’s growth!

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Ben and Renee made reservations for our last night at Coqueta on Pier 5. It is such a super cool location and meant that our walk from The Traz ferry to the restaurant was beautiful We go to see the light display on the bridge but my personal highlight was the rollerblading groups who donned 80s gear, smothered themselves in glow in the dark kit and carried boom boxes on the shoulders- their average age must have been 50. I want to be just like them when I am older!

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The food was incredible. I mean truly delicious…it maybe the best food we ate the entire trip! It is a modern take on traditional tapas and I think we devoured almost the whole menu and tried some of the best cocktails yet. The manchengo cheesecake with caramel cheesecake is the best thing that I have ever put into my mouth…ever.  Well picked Renne and Ben! I wish we could transport it to London. It would go down very well in London! It was the perfect end to a perfect stay in The Fran.

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Just having a little moment with the cheesecake!

So there you have it our last night in San Fran. Typing about it almost two months later is making me so very emotional. I miss everything about it!

I promise I wont make you wait two months for the next post Bo.

 

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