First view of Alcatraz

We were up early and ready for the first hop on/hop off bus to see San Francisco.

Our hotel booking stated that breakfast was included but didn’t say what kind of breakfast. We could each have 2 Danish pastries and a cup of FREE tea or coffee. A second cup or extra pastries were $10 each.

With just 1 day to see the sights of San Francisco (SF) we made sure that we had plenty of time to see as much of the city as possible. Stop no. 1 was Fisherman’s Wharf. We had heard of the pier before and believed it to be a vibrant, active place. Sadly, we found it to be dirty and occupied by a number of homeless people. Most benches had people sleeping on them. It was not expected to see that many homeless in a city like SF. From the wharf we got our first view of Alcatraz and it looked quite forbidding. It sits majestically upon a high rock and it seems unbelievable that anyone could escape. First view of Alcatraz

 Our first view of Alcatraz

We continued our walk around the wharf and came upon some very interesting buildings and relics. First there was a Wharf clock on a tower. There was a ramp beside the sidewalk and has a beautiful balustrade in place of the usual straight rails. Opposite that was a row of buildings, some well-known names of shops on it. An interesting note is that we were told that wharf is an acronym for ‘ware house on river front’ but when I Googled wharf as an acronym it came up with various possibilities but also the standard definition of a wharf, making the plural, wharves, acceptable

Fishermans Wharf clockFisherman’s Wharf Clock Tower

We also saw a tram going passed and it was interesting to see it have better stopping places than those around our hotel area where they have to stop in the intersection because of the steep hills. Here beside the sea the land of SF is flat allowing trams to travel. more smoothly.


Tram crossingA tram going through an intersection

From the Wharf we took the bus to Washington Square which, interestingly, does not have a statue of Washington but there is one of Benjamin Franklin. It was a lovely smallish park with few amenities for entertainment but there was a group of Japanese persons doing their meditation exercises. In fact, we saw other groups like this one in various parts of SF, on the ships and in other places we visited. The Japanese are very faithful in keeping fit by walking or these forms of gentle exercise.

Ben Franklin in Washington SqBenjamin Franklin in Washington Square

Across the road from the Square was a beautiful large Roman Catholic Church so we walked across to have a look. Also, I needed the bathroom so thought that there would be a facility there. There is a facility but the first thing that one sees on entering the church is a sign in bold capital letters: “THE TOILETS HERE ARE NOT FOR THE PUBLIC TO USE.” Wow, very friendly but I guess there are many passers-by who come in as the door is right on the street and stands open. I popped into an hotel along the road.

Nave and sanctuary of RC Church 3Nave and Sanctuary in the Church

Back on to the bus to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge to a viewing site from where we had gorgeous views over SF Bay to one side and mountains on the other. The highway crosses the bridge and, a little further on, into a tunnel through a mountain. We spent about a half hour there as there was so much to see and work out where the different places in the bay were. We were able to see Alcatraz from there as well but not as clearly as from Fisherman’s Wharf.

GG BridgeThe Golden Gate Bridge from the viewing site

Tunnels and mountainsTunnels in the mountain

As we headed back into the city we passed the Palace of Fine Arts which has a most interesting history. Originally built for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 to exhibit works of art. The Exposition also exhibited a number of other things such educational advancements, machinery, manufacturing etc each within its own building. After the Exposition most of the buildings were demolished but, due to a great love and determination, this building was not. It was kept as an Arts Centre for many years and now is used for conferences, celebrations and similar activities. 

Fine Arts Museum 3Palace of Fine Arts (taken from the bus)

We stopped off at the Municipal Hall to find out about a bus to Los Angeles the next day. We had first thought that we would drive the Coastal Pacific Highway (CPH) but Trevor felt uncomfortable driving on the right hand side in 2 large cities, SF and LA, so we decided to go by bus.

Municipal Town Hall 2Municipal Hall

Giraffee coats for treesIn front of the Municipal Hall – Giraffe tree jerseys

Our last hop off was at the Academy of Sciences and the Golden Gate Park. As we arrived there after 16:30 the Academy was closed but we looked through the glass doors and saw some of the Archaeological exhibits they had on display at the front of the foyer. We then crossed the road to the park which is bigger than NY Central Park and we walked around the Music Concourse which is pretty big on its own. There were 2 beautiful fountains in front of the Bandshell which was built in 1894 and is still used for concerts today. The Concourse is very big with plenty of benches donated in memory of family or friends. There are also many statues of people including Beethoven and Julius Caesar.

Bandstand 3The Bandshed

Beethoven statueBeethoven

The de Young Arts Museum in the Park opened in 1921 and houses many Fine Arts pieces including American art, Modern art, African art, textiles and sculptures, and special alternating exhibition. It is a most interesting building based on 16th Century Spanish Renaissance design.

de Young Arts Museumde Young Museum

We stayed on the bus as it wound its way around the rest of the city until it arrived back at Bush Street where we had started at about 17:45pm. While Trevor went to get supper for us I walked up the hill to the hotel and it was then that I was presented with the brand new plug (see previous blog) which was to be returned the next day before we left!