Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wed 29 Oct-Fri 31 Oct - In the air between US and AUS

Time for Hans to go home... Both physically and mentally. He had sufficiently "done" San Francisco.

Breakfast, packing up and then using the hostel's bag storage facility as Hans plane wouldn't leave San Francisco International Airport until after 5pm.

So what to do to kill time? A lazy stroll down to Mission Bay that's what, as per the below.

Hans walked 7th Street southeast from Market Street with not so much interesting to look at, but he liked this message on the side of a building.

Adobe has their headquarters on 7th Street.

UCSF Mission Bay campus is down there at Mission Bay... Obviously. They had their own very funky light rail Muni station on 3rd Street.

The campus also looked very pleasant. Hans particularly liked this unique park furniture.

There were plenty of vessels further south in San Francisco Bay. An emerald glittering kind of day...

The China Basin Park opposite AT&T Park, the famous baseball ground, is unsurprisingly dedicated to... baseball.

And this is how that China Basin Park looks from a distance. Plenty of plaques and memorials and commemorations.

Hans needed a selfie in front of AT&T Park, just to show that he was actually there.

As Hans arrived back at Market x 3rd Street, he switched off Runkeeper as it was time for a break. A visit to Starbucks and a cuppa while blogging followed.

Then it was back to the hostel for Hans to pick up his bag, BART to the airport, AirTrain to terminal 3 and comprehensive security including no shoes, no belt, spinning x-Ray, patting down and swiping of the hands. However, it all went surprisingly fast and Hans had an hour to kill and wait before boarding for part one to Los Angeles.

A totally uneventful flight to Los Angeles arriving ahead of time which just meant more waiting... Well, that's the end of this particular blog. We leave you with a few pics from the trip home...



Now, where should we go next...?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tue 28 Oct - San Francisco, CA

Hans last full day for this trip. Hiring a bike and do some cycling was on the agenda. Perfect weather, very little wind.

And as the aptly named Blazing Saddles opens at 8am, Hans was there a few minutes later. After all, they had an outlet on Mason Street, diagonally across the street from our hostel.

And, as usual, Runkeeper didn't play ball. Crashed suddenly. Hopeless app. So, the GPS mapping is in two parts, with a part missing in the middle. All in all cycled perhaps 45km.

Part 1 was mapped to little more than 30km.

And part 2 was just under 10km.

The distance of the missing part in the middle along the water? Who knows? 5km, more perhaps.

Let's start with a selfie in front of the Painted Ladies off Alamo Square Park (not off the nearby Buena Vista Park that we thought earlier)

You, dear reader, may have seen a similar photo to this. A very familiar San Francisco image.

The park itself looked nice enough. Very open and not that many trees, but quite a few punters around, mostly with dogs.

The Panhandle was just a long and narrow strip of a park, but it seemed very popular with cyclists and joggers. The bikelanes probably helped.

Crossing Stanyan Street and Hans was inside the Golden Gate Park. It is apparently the largest urban park in the U.S.

This building is the Conservatory of Flowers. Hans was not sure exactly what that meant as he didn't get any closer to it than this photo. Nice building though.

Kezar Stadium would be familiar to all Dirty Harry fans. That was where Scorpio lived and worked as a caretaker and where Harry shot him in the leg and then followed up by standing on that leg.

No, Kezar Stadium from Dirty Harry's time is no more. In fact, they were working on the stadium as Hans was there.

This place is called Spreckel's Temple of Music, but the only music that Hans could hear there today was the Chinese(?) music accompanying Asian ladies doing tai chi there.

Just a picture to show how it mostly looks like inside Golden Gate Park. It is quite similar to Centennial Park in Sydney in that it seperates bikes and joggers/pedestrians from cars and car parking.

Yes, they did even have what looked like horse riding tracks in places.

Who would have thought that Golden Gate Park would have a waterfall inside its boundaries? But it had.

Almost out at the western ocean side of Golden Gate Park and there is a windmill there. In fact, there are two in the area as we will see later. This one is called Murphy Windmill. An Irish windmill...?

The second windmill is much more appropriately named the Dutch Windmill.

Then Hans was out of Golden Gate Park and onto the promenade along Ocean Beach. Looking north.

This shifting of sand reminded Hans of a steroid version of what they do at Queenscliff Beach in Manly on a regular basis. This was sand shifting on overdrive.

No, the Ocean Beach promenade was not very attractive. Lots of cracked and uneven concrete walkways, rubbish around and generally run down. They could well spend some money here and make it just a little bit nicer.

A couple of interesting signs... Note the languages. Russian? So common here that they need to include it on the signs? Or are there a disproportionate number of Russians getting into trouble here? It reminded Hans of Brighton Beach next to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York City.

And how to and not to light fires on Ocean Beach.

These rocks sticking out of the water on the northern end of Ocean Beach are called Seal Rocks. The cliff house is very aptly called the... Cliff House. We saw that building from a distance last Saturday as we walked around Lands End and Sutro Baths.

Here it started to climb, which was a bit tougher, but the views then got a lot better. Ocean Beach looking south from next to the a Cliff House.

And if you didn't believe Hans stating that there were two windmills around here, look for yourself.

Same spot, but looking south out towards the water a bit more.

Then Hans cycled El Camino Der Mar as per the bicycle rental guys' map.

However, that old road stopped suddenly and became a hiking and perhaps a mountain bike track. One problem though, suddenly there were then loads of steps so Hans had to carry the bike up for quite a distance. False advertising.

Once you get into the Presidio district, housing and environment becomes very classy. Hans likes the look of this area a lot. Probably very very expensive to live here.

Hans was cycling closer and closer to Golden Gate Bridge but first a selfie along the way, back towards the Presidio.

Warning! Excessive number of pictures featuring Golden Gate Bridge next. Heck, it had to be done.

Another image that looked very familiar...

The tollgates for travelling across Golden Gate Bridge are on the south side only. No toll going north, only going south. Just like Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It was also just here that the chain jumped from Hans bike. He had not been given the most modern and well maintained bike, with very squeaky brakes, top gear not working at all and now this. However, Hans soon continued with greasy hands...

A couple of detailed studies...

...and up...

...and back towards the south. Hans turned around here on his bike. It didn't seem to be any point in crossing it all just to say that you have done it. It was noisy and the joint bike/pedestrian path was very narrow.

But hey, Golden Gate Bridge is quite stunning up close and personal too.

Let's finish with a few selfies...

...and one more before Hans started his descent towards the water's line.

Long tracts of the path between downtown and Golden Gate Bridge looked like this. Sanddunes and sandpath. Not an awful lot to look at, but it was a stunning day and Hans took his time cycling slowly and enjoyed.

We had driven past the very imposing set of buildings housing the Palace of Fine Art several times, but as it was now very close to where Hans cycled and hey, it was time for a bit of lunch anyway, he decided to have a look.

Apparently, this was all swamp land and now a beautiful oasis and park set next to the Art museum. Nice!

Hans found a spot in the shade among all these lovely buildings and had tuna and crackers...

Only to soon be interrupted by yet another slurring brainfried individual. He started to give Hans a "tour guide's" overview (Hans thinks) of the buildings and pond making up the Palace of Fine Art and you could just see that a request for money was moments away.

Another old Hans trick, pretend not to understand English. It worked well this time and the individual left after a while, but not until yelling things like "you are in my city now" and some other nonsense towards Hans.

A fine human specimen that the City of San Francisco must be very proud of... Not!

Homestretch passing the beach at Aquatic Cove close to Fishermans Wharf and the really awful touristy Embarcadero.

A bunch of oldies were preparing for a swim while there were already several more of them in the water already. The water must be reasonably nippy now.

Not far from 2pm and Hans had returned his bike at Blazing Saddles on Mason Street. This followed by a shower back at the hostel, a cup of tea and blogging. Hans had plenty of sun today and was happy to stay out away from more for a while.

Hunger set in around 4pm, and with one hour to go until tomorrow's flights check in opens, why not have something to eat? Boudin' clam chowder in a sourdough bread was delicious last time so why not go back. So Hans did. As delicious as last time...

After his meal, there was housekeeping. Hans wandered down to Powell BART station to buy tomorrow's train tickets to the airport, then back to hostel for check in.

We have to give it to United Airlines. Both our previous experiences were very poor although that was for both of us a long time ago.

No issues getting to the U.S. and this check in back to Australia was an absolute breeze. United Airlines had Hans details on file already, including the passport number, so just confirm it all, change your seat if you want to and then you are given 3 options of how to present your boarding pass. You can show it on your mobile phone, you can print it at home or you can print it from a kiosk at the airport.

Hopefully it goes as smooth tomorrow and beyond.

Then it was really time for a cold one or two. Two as that was what Hans had left and who wants to give up a good brew?

A little later it was time for Hans dinner. And where to have it, if not Chipotle Mexican Grill. This was the first time any of us visited this formidable establishment during this visit. Hans had a bowl of chicken with all the offered trappings. Delicious.

You may not see it but immediately to the right off the picture are two of San Franciscos finest. If it's good enough for a cop, it's good enough for Hans.

Hold on, are coppers not supposed to eat a lot of donots?

After his Mexican fast food meal. Hans just crossed O'Farrell Street for a refresher at another San Francisco institution, Foley's Irish House (right?), where game 4 of World Series baseball was in full swing.

Hans ordered that fantastic Californian IPA, Lagunitas, possibly for the last time on this trip. It was again superb.

Enough for one day for the old man as some time after 8pm, Hans returned to the hostel and had a quiet evening for what was left of it.

Good night to everybody. Tomorrow he will fly out of here... End of this trip. Let's plan the next one...