Friday, 26 January 2018

Goodbye San Francisco!

We were so bad with last days! Everyone had the grumps because it was finally time to head home. THe post holiday blues had hit before we had even arrived home. We did manage to get up out of bed and packed our bags. Malcolm had organised to have one of the rooms until 2pm which gave us an opportunity to spend the last morning traipsing around like tourists at Pier 39. Bubba Gumps for lunch overlooking the bay was a nice way to end our time in San Francisco.

Crabbing around

We keep forgetting the selfie stick!!

Mal's attempt at an artistic selfie

The famous Pier 39 sea lions

Run Forrest Run

Last meal in San Francisco

Our drive to the airport was uneventful other than the fact that we had to go to a different terminal just to enter the AMEX Centurion lounge. In San Francisco airport this meant having to go through security again! With free food on offer and plenty of time, we went for it. The stop at LAX was fortunately brief. We survived the long flight home and arrived to a hot and humid Sydney. 

Thank you North America for an incredible 7 weeks! Despite the odd hiccups we've had an amazing time and so grateful that we were able to enjoy it with family and friends. Until next time!

Los Angeles by night

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Braving San Francisco

With the events of yesterday put behind us, we set out to cover what we couldn't do yesterday. As true Star Wars fans, we went to Lucasfilm in the Presidio just to take a picture of the Yoda fountain. From there we proceeded to the building dedicated to our other love, Walt Disney. The Walt Disney Family Museum was opened by Disney's daughter to celebrate the life and legacy of Walt Disney. The galleries were incredibly detailed and had many personal item from Walt himself as well as his extended family. We spent all of our morning there before finding a Shanghainese dumpling place for lunch.

After that, we braved Golden State Park again for a round of frisbee golf. The pros made it look easy and Malcolm admitted that the children had better form than he did...It was serious stuff with a variety of approach and putting frisbees. The rain interrupted play and we returned to our hotel. Malcolm and Opa had a basketball game to go to and the children just wanted to enjoy their last free hours of screen time before we return to Australia.


Walt Disney Family Museum

Original furnishings from the apartment in Disneyland

Earliest known rough drawing of Mickey Mouse

348 frames drawn for less than 15 seconds of footage! Steamboat Willie


Frisbee Golf....

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Disaster Strikes!

We discovered by chance that entrance into the Japanese Garden was free before 10am on Wednesdays. So guess where we went! The Japanese Garden was in the  Golden Gate Park, a park of around 1,017 acres. ie about 20% bigger than New York's Central Park! The Japanese Gardens was small but pretty. Although I wasn't sure if I would go if I had to pay...

We returned to our car and was greeted with the sickening sight of our rear car window smashed in. Whoever did it, did it for a bag which had nothing but water bottles and gloves. The bag itself was a good bag, ironically a pacsafe anti-theft bag! More importantly, it had our Mike Wazowski and Sully keychains, precious and much loved purchases from Walt Disney World :(

In the end, even though it was inconvenient, we were grateful that it wasn't worse. When we returned the car, we saw two other cars also with smashed windows. The staff there informed us that in summer, they can get up to 300 cars a week with smashed windows in the Bay area alone. The family before us only stopped to take a picture on their way to the airport, and returned to find their luggage and passports taken. Another lady had a gun put to her head! In the end, even with ferrying the children back to the hotel, completing paperwork, filing a police report, and replacing the rental car, only 4 hours of our day had been taken. Other than having to file a claim on our travel insurance for the items stolen, wee also incurred no charges for the car itself. After we picked up our replacement rental, it started to pour!

The family decided to give the rest of the planned activities for the day a miss. No one wanted to return back to Golden Gate Park in the rain. We followed up yesterdays' ramen with sushi which was highly satisfying.

Not sure of the practically of such a steep bridge!

To look pretty?!?

Unusually strange but visually satisfying trees!

Still happy before...

...seeing THIS!!!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Alcatraz, Chinatown & Ramen

Well done San Francisco for tiring the children out!

The sun continued to shine! Yay! Despite waking up late, we somehow managed to get onto the first ferry to get to Alcatraz. The tickets can be bought directly at Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33 where the ferries left although at peak times, it would be wise to pre-purchase them. Note that there is only one approved vendor to ferry visitors across so buy tickets from the official website to save yourselves paying more unnecessarily. Our visit included an audio guide to the cellblock and so we made our way up the hill to avoid the crowds later. It was a great audio tour, outlining the facilities, life in the prison, and the escape attempts. Poor Jonah got a bit worried at one point and refused to look inside the cells for solitary confinement...We were blessed with good weather with only mild fog in the distance and got a great view back towards San Francisco Bay as well as the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our vessel. How aprtly named!

Great views from the top

Through the early morning fog you could just see the island we were visiting


Having to walk up a steep hill to the main prison meant that we could overtake all the unfit people!

After entering we walked past where prisoners were issued their prison gear

The shower area. The allocation of headsets and instructions on how to use them was well organised

Former inmates and guards as narrators brought some "realness"

The children were engaged! 

A typical tiny cell

Solitary. Spooked Jonah out completely. He refused to go in!

Parts of the tour brought you outside which was lovely. A gorgeous view towards San Francisco across the bay

The escapes captivated us all!

One of the escapee's cell

Gotta love this! Much better than a snow globe!

With virtually no food offering on the island itself, our task upon returning to the mainland was to get ourselves to Chinatown. Fortunately it wasn't too bad a walk. Although a fair distance, it wasn't particularly hilly. Phew! We quickly settled upon a restaurant and savoured our first good chinese meal for some time! Mmmm....the servings were generous and reasonably priced. We wandered around Chinatown prior to taking the very fun cable car back towards Fisherman's Wharf. We had a few more "must see"s to tick off our list. Ghirardelli Square with Ice cream treats for afternoon tea. Tick! We raced back up Lombard to see the most crooked street in the world. The steep hill was enough exertion to have everyone discard clothing down to bare minimum. We meandered our way down and walked back to our hotel. My thoughts were that I would hate to be living in one of the houses after seeing the number of tourists and cars passing through!

Chinatown in San Francisco = good chinese food !Yay!

Perhaps over ordered a smidge

Fortune cookie factory. To take a photo inside costs 50 cents each no thanks

But we'll take the freebie food!

When in Chinatown one buys strange things?!? A head scratcher


Cable car time!

Oma and Opa preferred the safety of sitting inside

We didn't bring the selfie stick!!! Clear blue skies and you can make out the Golden Gate bridge in the background....just

Jonah posing while taking a photo

It would have been cruel not to stop here!

One of Jonah's photos. Alcatraz was not so far away from the city!

Hot and sweaty after running up to the top of the crookedest street

The street as seen from the bottom

By this stage, everyone was complaining of exhaustion. The children refused a visit to the park! We granted them their rest before our rumbling tummies had us searching for dinner. Malcolm bravely conquered San Francisco peak hour traffic in a supersized SUV to take us to good ramen restaurant. It was worth it! We were so happy to finally eat good Asian food again!

Ramen yes please!!!

Looks so plain tastes so good!