Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sun 26 Oct - San Francisco, CA

Di's last day before she returns to Australia leaving Hans in San Francisco for another couple of days.

So, this last morning and midday before she had to go to the airport, we decided to have a look at the Civic Centre. It is not far, just the next stop on the BART train line towards Mission where we went last night.

However, the area between where we stay at the corner of Mason and O'Farrell Street and the most imposing San Francisco City Hall is filled with down and outers, homeless people, crazy people. We even encountered somebody on the ground (drug overdose comes to mind) with plenty of likeminded people around the person yapping and going on. The ambulance soon arrived.

Of course, rubbish everywhere and being a Sunday (or is that every day?), there were long queues to the churches and soup kitchens etc.

We think that the area is the southern part of Tenderloin which has a bit of a rough reputation.

Anyway, enough of the rough... When we arrived at U.N. Plaza, there was a Sunday local growers market on. The everyday feel to the market and the imposing City Hall in the distance made it a bit surreal.

This lady was selling nuts in all weird and wonderful combinations. Pistachios in garlic and jalapeƱo and the like. Fantastic.

The produce looked and smelt incredibly fresh.

Here is Di looking sooo happy among all the beautiful fresh food.

Did we mention that this Growers Market was a little bit different from the normal ones?

It started off as a bit of a social experiment, to be able to provide affordable fresh food for the not so well to do. The poor people could even use food coupons to pay for what they wanted and profits are then partly recycled back into its operations.

The market has since become quite an institution and the whole spectrum of social demographics looked like being there.

City Hall, where Harvey Milk and the then mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by Dan White in 1978. Harvey Milk was of course the openly gay politician of the Castro district whose legacy we touched upon as we did the walking tour there a few days ago.

The seal for the state of California, as we photographed it in the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. The building houses the California Public Utilities Commission.

We continued our wandering towards the north eastern side of the San Francisco peninsula and stumbled onto San Francisco Hall of Justice on Bryant Street.

We have never ever seen so many police cars parked on the street in one spot. And not only that, double parked too. Should be safe to park your own car around here.

Opposite San Francisco Caltrain Station On Townsend Street, we stumbled onto a restaurant which had some really wonderful food related quotes on their windows. Zoom in this picture and you are in for a treat. Di could very much relate... Very clever indeed.

Then we saw it... AT&T Park.

The home of San Francisco Giants (baseball for the uninitiated).

They are currently in the finals and playing Kansas City Royals in best of 7 games (at time of writing, the score was 2 vs 2 with another game later today right here)

A few pics around the AT&T Park...

Hans is not really a baseball fan but you know, you get caught up in it.

A small piece of the spectator stand.

A funny sign outside the stadium that we liked a lot...

The drawbridge on 3rd Street behind the AT&T Park. We liked the huge concrete counterweight to the right.

We then strolled along the Embarcadero and the Oakland Bay Bridge came into view. A selfie was required.

The bridge looked even more spectacular from the western side. The island in the middle is calle Verba Buena Island. Same as an urban park we got to later on.

Interesting art along the Embarcadero.

This is San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or MOMA as it popularly refered to as. Closed for renovations and extensions and will not open until 2016. Hans was inside back in 1997 and remember it being good.

And this is Verba Buena Gardens towards Mission Street, a very lovely oasis in the middle of the city.

Give me your hand, give me your hand...

Lunch and yes, we had to go there before Di is leaving town. Boudin Bakery can now be found not just at the Embarcadero close to Fisherman's Wharf but all over town. This one on O'Farrell Street is very close to our hostel.

Of course, it had to be done. Hans was having the "world famous" San Francisco sourdough clam chowder, served inside the cut out sourdough bread. Fantastic.

Di went with squash soup also served inside the sourdough bread and she liked it a lot too.

After lunch, we were on an outlook for a Citibank ATM when we encountered this. What's going on? Who is the dignitary visiting Westin St Francis hotel off Union Square?

Ahhhhhhhh... We found out that inside this bus is the Kansas City Royals baseball team, on their way to AT&T Park for game number 5 in the play offs. Good luck to both teams... Or should we go for the Giants now that we are in San Fran...?

After withdrawing some $ for Hans to live on while Di is going back to Melbourne to bring home some more bacon, we took the back lanes back to our hostel. On Maiden Lane, we saw this guy.

The bloke looked like a mess, he could hardly walk, but boy, he could sing. Italian opera. A certain Italian bigger than Ben Hur character named Pavarotti came to mind...

And this, Go Car. Tiny little vehicles that you presumably can hire and go for a spin in the hood. Looks a bit exposed. Photo from the kitchen of our hostel.
Back at the hostel, Di took a shower and packed up and after a bit of downtime, we were on our way to Powell Street BART station where Hans said goodbye to Di as she took the escalator down to the platform. See you in 3 days time. Bye Di, bye... The bacon bringer...

Hans then wandered around the neighborhood for a little while, but then decided to pop into Walgreens for some treats. And what did he find there? If not Ballast Point IPA, the lovely beer he had at the Base Camp restaurant in South Lake Tahoe.

An investment in a six pack was a given. And at $10.99+ tax vs single bottles for $3.55 in the convienience store next to our hostel, it is a steal. Well, it is all relative, isn't it?

Back to the hostel for Hans enjoying a few late afternoon beers while blogging this, followed by a mellow evening. Not much to report...

Well, what can you do when your lovely wife just disappears like that...? What was Di doing anyway? Funny you ask...

An update and some photos from Di's long haul home...all went well on the BART to SFO international terminal and quite easy to find the correct United section as they have a whole terminal to themselves. Despite online check in and having boarding passes, Di could not do a simple "bag drop" and instead queued to be assisted by an airline staff member. Did not take long.

Then into security - where everyone over 75 years of age must remove shoes and walk into a full body scanner. Di felt safe.

All good to LAX, a busy flight, and once Di got there she found a great "ado" at her departure gate for the United flight to Melbourne. Turns out that this flight is the inaugural non stop flight to Melbourne for United Airlines, using a brand new Dreamliner-900 plane.

United Airlinesand Boeing big wigs were there, lots of suits and local United Airlines staff with planned speeches and ribbon cutting planned an hour before boarding.

To promote Melbourne they also had a Melbourne State Government official and a Tourism Australia official plus lots of Melbourne and Victoria posters, John Williamson music, didgeridoo playing, meat pies and laminations.

The launch banner showed Melbourne and you can almost see where we live on the far right and you can definitely see where Di works in the middle. Di felt at home already.

Di wanted to watch the launch so went for a wander for an hour then returned to here the speeches etc. it was a big deal and clearly they had chosen their most senior crew to also fly first time on the aircraft. The staff were thrilled (Di asked them) and continued their good mood all through the flight

No, the koala did not accompany the flight!

Americans can really do rah-rah launch speeches like no one else and made Di grin as it was so over the top. After speeches the free food and drinks we offered together with leather passport holders for all passengers. Cool and it felt like a privilege ( even though we paid for it!)

The brand new Dreamliner plane does look different and has heaps of leg room and all went well for Di's 15 hour and 22 minute return journey. So much better than going via Sydney. BTW, it is now Tue 28 Oct for Di. That's OK...


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