Wicked fun

This day we thought we’d go for some sight-seeing, so we took the car down to Hollywood Boulevard (the street with all the stars). We followed it eastwards and was a bit surprised by how few of the stars we recognized (it later turned out that they place around a dozen new ones each year, so maybe it’s not that strange after all…). After a while we found a tourist information and went in to get a map. The guy at the counter started rambling about how great Swedish pizzas were when he heard where we came from Sweden: ’40 different toppings, right?’ (Jonna comments: he had been to Uppsala once). Anyways, we signed up for an hour-long tour of the Hollywood Boulevard and its surroundings.

The tour was so-so, mostly because we had a hard time hearing what the guide said. Also, it wasn’t all that interesting watching all the big studios from outside the walls. We did get to hear a fun story about Carol Burnett who in her teens worked at a movie theatre called Pacific when she got fired. Later, when she got her own star she asked to place it right in front of the Pacific (which was now closed down by the way) (Jonna comments: she also got the front door for the theatre to place in her home later, according to info we found on some web page).

Back from the tour we saw that next to the tourist information there was a big theatre called the ‘Pantages‘ and they were playing a new musical called ‘Wicked‘. We thought it would be fun to see a real musical as well so we promptly bought ticket for the show that same evening.

Then we walked westwards on Hollywood Boulevard until we came to the Hollywood Wax Museum. The tickets also let you in to the Guinness museum so we gave it a shot. Neither the wax museum nor the Guinness museum was that impressive so we headed on to look at the legendary Mann’s Chinese Theatre (that nowadays is called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre). Outside of it were lots of annoying figures in costumes from each of the movies that were currently showing, Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean and whatnot. Ugly.

We got some food and decided that we were done with Hollywood Boulevard. Instead we headed out to a factory outlet center to do some shopping in order to have something nice to wear to the musical. On the way I wanted to check out Watts Towers (another sight I didn’t know about prior to playing GTA – San Andreas). But it turned out that I had somehow put the wrong address into the GPS for it and we gave up on it. The near constant gridlock that is LA meant that we were getting a bit pressed for time and didn’t really get that much time to shop. We had allocated an hour for getting back, changing clothes and getting to the theatre, which of course was way too little. So we had to do without the new clothes, but at least we got there in time.

The musical was nothing short of amazing! It told the story about what really happened with the witches of Oz and what made them into good and wicked witches. Smart and funny dialogue, fantastic decor and the actors were great singers, if I had to complain about something then it would be that there weren’t any real hits among the songs like there are in Lloyd Webbers musicals. I’m so glad we went to this show, one of the real highlights of the trip! (Jonna comments: we bought the CD with the songs from the musical and we also bought a long-sleeved T-shirt for Magnus, shorts and a short-sleeved T-shirt had been fine during the day but he started freezing during the musical).

Universal Studios

Since we’ve done the nature thing to death it was time for some more secular entertainment, so we thought we’d spend the day at Universal Studios. Since we had already walked in one direction from the motel the night before and didn’t see any Universal, we deftly deduced that it had to be the other way and started walking. 15 minutes or so later we started to suspect that the advertised ‘5 minute walk to Universal Studios’ actually was in some other direction. So we stopped a woman and asked. It turned out that we were one (big) block off target and the lady said: ‘That’s a reeeally far, you’d better take the bus!’. (Jonna comments: she pointed this fact out several times for us actually). Since we just walked that distance we decided to walk back anyway (and about 15 minutes later we stood in front of Universal Studios). I guess we just didn’t have quite the same view of what ‘far’ is.

Universal Studios is on the top of a hill and there is a free choo-choo to take you up top. And it starts off with the ‘Universal City’ which is mostly a bunch of shops, although they are a bit nice. More on that later.

The actual park is more of a collection of shows than a regular amusement park. We started out by walking the House of Horrors which sucked badly. The only remotely scary things were the actors skulking about in the house.

Next up was Terminator 2: 3D which was surprisingly good. A bunch of actors stand in for the actual actors when they switch back and forth from film to ‘live’ acting, their faces are shaded at all times so it works pretty well. And being Universal Studios they also had some specifically recorded scenes with the original actors. Way above expectations. Also hilarious was the Cyberdyne representative greeting us before going in to the movie theater (Jonna comments: “So, do you all have your 3D glasses or did someone manage to lose them on their way in here? You lost them? Oh, you managed not to see the obvious sign and huge stand outside?! Really?! …Super *sugarsweet*)

Afterwards we went to the Animal Actors show which was basically a bunch of animals doing tricks. Most interesting though was when they demonstrated how they get the animals to do certain stuff and how they create scenes that have both predators and preys in them at the same time.

When we got out they called out about the WaterWorld show, but we couldn’t find it at first so we had lunch first. When we were done they had the last call for the same show so we hurried in. It was a very elaborate set with a large pool and a big fort with lots of towers. Show starts with couple boats racing in followed by pirates on water scooters. The actors did their very best to make the audience as wet as possible and since we were among the last to arrive we got our fair share (Jonna comments: a guy ran by and threw a bucket of water on us. Very high-tech.). The show also included a lot of pyrotechnics and wasn’t bad at all.

Shrek 4D was next and it was one of those 3D-movies with the big glasses. The fourth dimension consisted of effects inside the theater such as water and air sprays. The actual movie was just like the Shrek movies, so if you like those you’ll like this one.

This concluded the upper section of the park and we went down to the lower court where they have a couple of more traditional rides like the rollercoaster ‘Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride’ which we went for first. It’s housed inside a building and is as far as I can tell, pneumatically driven. So it starts out with an awesome acceleration and since it’s all inside a building there are no high slopes, just lots of twists and turns. It also goes backwards the last bit. Fun, but nothing worth writing home about (Jonna comments: ummm…so I guess this is not equal to writing home?).

The other regular ride was ‘Jurassic Park – The Ride’ which was one of those ordinary water log ride things with a big slope at the end where you get wet. There are a lot of chances to get wet at Universal Studios by the way; I guess the climate makes it popular since you dry up in like five minutes (except for the day we were there when it was really cloudy). Anyway, the ride was kind of boring except for the last slope. Just a lot of unconvincing mechanical dinosaurs.

‘Backdraft’ was the last thing we went to, it is a sort of show where they demonstrate how they made a lot of the special effects in the movie Backdraft. The first part is a little documentary where the actors and directors tell stories about the movie and the last bit is an automated recreation of the factory fire scene in the movie. We found it so-so and we decided that we had enough of the park after that (There was actually only one attraction that we didn’t go to, and that was some sort of tour where they showed off how they did stunts and such in a bunch of movies. But since we weren’t that impressed by the Backdraft show we decided to skip it.).

Overall I wouldn’t really recommend the park unless you can visit it off-season as we did with practically no lines to the rides. The rides are fun, but not if you have to wait more than half an hour in line for them.

Since we were done with the park a bit earlier than expected we strolled around in Universal City a bit. It was really nice, as long as you don’t shop anything (it was a bit expensive), street performers and fun neon signs aplenty. There was a movie theatre there as well and we decided to catch ‘The Brave One‘ since we both like Jodie Foster. The movie turned out to be great, highly recommended!

Later, back at the motel, we saw a rather fun commercial (in that little disturbing sense) where Barbie went shopping in a little store and you got to swipe a credit card and everything. Great for your 7-year-old brat-in-training!

Pacific swim

At Point Lobos we got a map of southern California (or SoCal as the locals seem to call it) that detailed some scenic routes. As there was one of them close by we took the turn. It was refreshing with some inland scenery for a change. It seems like there are lots of hills in this country so we had some nice valley views along the way before Santa Barbara that marked the end of the scenic route.

Since Santa Barbara seemed to offer little of interest we blew right past it. As we came closer to California we noticed that the surfers had stopped wearing wet suits. (Jonna comments: I think I saw two dolphins swimming in the sea! Magnus drove the car so he missed it and we didn’t see any more dolphins). So we figured that the water was probably hotter down here and stopped at San Buenaventura to try the water. It turned out to be almost as bone chillingly cold as earlier in Santa Cruz, but after walking about in there for a while it didn’t feel that bad anymore and we decided to take a dip. So we threw our computer science-white bodies in the surf and bounced around in the waves. We were bathing for an hour give or take and then continued into LA. It took a while to find a motel but in the end we found one right next to Universal Studios.

Surf’s Up!

When you’re in Santa Cruz you need to check out the famous boardwalk, so the first thing we did was going down there. Unfortunately this was a Monday, and evidently surfers sleep at Mondays, because practically nothing was open. So we had to settle for a beach walk and a walk along the pier where we looked at some more sea lions and seals. The famous amusement park with its Giant Dipper wooden rollercoaster, open since 1924 was also closed. So we continued down south instead.

We had originally planned to drive all the way down to L.A. in one day, but we were realizing that this would be a rather tall order. Especially if we wanted to actually enjoy the trip. So we decided to make a stop in Monterey Bay and visit their aquarium (yes, I know that this is the third aquarium we’re visiting, but we like fish). To get change for parking I bought a jawbreaker, basically a very hard ball of sugar a little bigger than a golf ball. At the time of writing, the 19th, we’ve yet been unable to finish it.

The Monterey Bay aquarium is home to some really funny sea otters. Their day was mostly made up of swimming around, banging toys against rocks, the way they normally do when they’re trying to crack open a clam. Looked really funny. We also got to watch a feeding when they swam around on their backs, putting their food on the chest and eating it with their front paws. (Jonna comments: one of them refused to give up his/her toy while eating and managed to hold the food in his/her front paws and the toy in the back paws 🙂 ).

Another cool thing were their jellyfish, which were artfully placed in tanks with blue background that showed off their different colors. They also had a few tanks each containing one big school of fish, very impressive. In one of the really big tanks they had white sharks, bigass tuna fish and my personal favorite: the giant ocean sunfish. We also saw some african otters, kelp towering two stories and some big pointy deep sea crabs.

By the time we got out of there it was almost four o’clock in the afternoon and we still had the legendary Big Sur ahead of us before our planned stop in Santa Barbara. After consulting the GPS we decided that Santa Barbara would be a bit too far so we settled on Santa Maria instead. Before Big Sur though, there was Point Lobos State Reserve that the guide book was raving about. Since the book had been spot on with Ecola State Park we decided to take a look. It didn’t turn out to be that much to look at though, so a bit disappointed we continued on down Big Sur.

After just a little bit we passed a place called Waddell Creek that had lots of two things; kite surfers and pelicans. We stopped to have a look and failed miserably in photoing the pelicans and after some random strolling we headed on.

Big Sur was really beautiful by sunset but we couldn’t help thinking that it looked almost exactly like the Oregon coast (Jonna comments: I think the Oregon coast was better!). Apparently we came at a good time though as the road is often closed in the winter due to landslides and is fog-infested in the summer.

We didn’t arrive in Santa Maria until dark and since we hadn’t eaten that day (we mostly only eat one meal a day actually since they tend to fill you up quite nicely) we decided to try out one of the fast food chains that yet hasn’t come to Sweden: Jack in the Box. The burgers were really great, and so were the fries, beating McDonalds and Burger King both hands down.

Bats in the belfry

Since we happened to be in Fresno we thought we’d check out one of the local sights; the Forestiere Underground Gardens. This Italian guy; Baldassare Forestiere, decided one day that he wanted to build a catacomb garden and started digging back in 1906 and by 1923 he had over 10 acres worth of catacombs and it was only because he died early that he didn’t get to 20 acres. Well, when we got there just minutes after one of the tours left and the next one wasn’t until an hour later. We decided we didn’t have time to wait for that and got back on the road instead.

There was another attraction we wanted to see before going further south; The Winchester Mystery House. It was built by the widow to one of the presidents of the Winchester Rifle Company which left her with a hefty pile of money. Upon her husband’s death she moved out to San Jose in 1884 and started the construction of the monumental house which stayed under continuous construction; 24 hours a day until the day she died 37 years later. When she died, the house had 160 rooms, all designed by the lady herself. The house has all manners of oddities, like a door opening up to an 8 foot drop, a chimney ending just inches from the ceiling, a staircase in the ceiling, a window in the floor, the list just goes on. I love it when rich people go bananas!

Anyways, we drove back to the coast, on a maddeningly boring straight road. Four hours or so later we pulled up to the Winchester house. The tour went through 110 of the rooms and we learned that the lady Winchester was obsessed by the number thirteen and when something in her house didn’t match up to said number, she tended to fix it. For instance; the chandelier she ordered from Germany that came with only twelve candles she fixed by soldering an extra candle to the middle of it (it was an electrical chandelier). The add-on was crooked and looked awful, but at least there were thirteen candles…

She had also constructed rooms from which she could spy on any of her many servants. She paid them in cash every day, that way she could fire them without trouble, which she also did quite often. The house was also filled with winding staircases with very low steps because lady Winchester had arthritis and couldn’t lift her feet more than a couple of inches. On the whole an enjoyable experience.

Next up was to get back to the coast. That meant driving north through the very hilly Silicon Valley where we passed by all the places you’ve heard so much about; Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View. The place we were heading for is called Half Moon Bay and lies right on the coast. Just when we came within the city limits we saw a bunch of very cool dinosaurs painstakingly welded together out of sheet metal. We immediately stopped and snapped a few pictures of the beasts and also wandered around the shop of the guy that built them. There were quite a few cool creations there, one that specifically caught my fancy was one of those gas heaters you see in cafés to which he had welded palm leaves and coconuts. It looked quite stylish!

Half Moon Bay also had a nice beach that we walked along for a bit before heading down to Santa Cruz for the night.

Yosemite by horseback

I started the morning by booking the last two spots at a two hour horse trail ride in Yosemite. Now we only had to get there. When checking out I noticed a police officer in the office. He was asking the motel manager all sorts of questions and then he asked for his ID. The manager gave him a laminated color-copy of his driver’s license. The officer wasn’t too happy about this. ‘You cannot laminate a copy of your license sir, that is forgery.’ The manager pleaded that it was only temporary and that he knew that it was wrong. ‘But if you knew it was wrong, then why did you do it?’ The manager just kept repeating his mantra of ‘temporary’ and the officer just shook his head. Maybe it was good that we didn’t stay longer than we did…

So we put Yosemite in the GPS and headed out of San Francisco. It was a rather hot day and we had about 4.5 hours of driving ahead of us. We noticed that the ever-present country music on the radio was slowly replaced by choral music, bible readings and preaching. The drive itself wasn’t very eventful and about 3 pm we drove up at the ranch where the trail ride started from. A guy in chaps and a cowboy hat signed us in and we walked around inspecting the horses (Jonna comments: I tried to pet the horses but they were either totally uninterested in having any sort of contact with me or they were too bothered by flies and bees to care). The tour didn’t start for another 45 minutes so we had some time to kill. The views weren’t all that interesting, mostly pine forest (apparently they were Sequoias but they looked like regular pine). After a while the previous tour came back and we got to get on the horses. We actually had to use a staircase though, since it was easier on the horses, (Jonna comments: according to the cowboys, I think the horses could stand a regular sit up 😉 but I guess some people can’t get up on the back of a horse properly so the stairs were probably called for). Then we got to go around this training course before going off on the trail.

It was a bit disappointing really, the view was almost exactly the same through the whole tour; pine, pine and then more pine. The only interesting parts really were three stream crossings and going up and down a rather steep hill (the only time we had an actual view, which consisted of, you guessed it, pine from above). It would have been a bit more interesting if we had at least gotten to trot with the horses a bit, but it was pretty much walking for the full two hours. As we came back we were literarily covered in dust from head to toe that as a bonus just wouldn’t come off. Ah well, every day can’t be great. (Jonna comments: I don’t think it was that bad. It was a different thing to do and it was rather scary at times going downhill but the horses handled it well. It was also cool to ride western-style). We drove down to Fresno and stayed there for the night.


The last day in San Fran was put aside to nothing at all so after breakfast we walked to the Metreon center again and I bought a bunch of comics (Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer and Neverwhere) at the large comics store there. We then had some ice cream and coffee at the local coffee shop (the coffee is mostly nasty over here) and consumed it outside in the grass of Yerba Buena Gardens (I just can’t stop thinking about the Seinfeld episode where George is dating a girl named Yurma). Yerba Buena Gardens is a really nice place, one of our favorite places in SF in fact.

Almost all the time while you’re in San Francisco you can see Coit Tower; an old tower, looking a bit like a cigarette, built in the thirties. It looked like it would have a nice view so we decided to go and have a look. It was quite a walk and the tower seemed to be on top of one of SF’s highest hills. Jonnas stubborn cold didn’t help much either. We finally got up there though and before going up we looked at the murals covering the inside of the tower. The thing about the murals was that they were painted at the same time as the tower was built. The motives were life in the city and the different jobs people had back then, interesting really. Jonna weren’t too impressed with the technique though (Jonna comments: it was nice, I guess, but the technique was towards the naive genre, which I always have a hard time appreciating and the shadows in the paintings were poorly drawn).

Then we went up, the view was fine but not that impressive really. From up there we could just barely make out the famous Lombard Street (also featured in GTA), which is an extremely winding street filled with flowers on both sides. We decided to walk over there and check it out.

This took us through a very nice area called North Beach, lots of flowers, trees and pretty houses. It took a while to get there and when we finally arrived at the top of Lombard Street we decided to take the cable car back to Market Street. But when it came it was already full so we decided to walk some more, and since it was downhill now it wasn’t even that bad. The total distance turned out to be about 4 miles (~7 km) as a bird flies.

Since we were a little tired after the walk we wrapped the day up by seeing a movie I’ve really been looking forward to; Stardust. We’ve both read the book and loved it, and since the author himself said he was happy about how it turned out we had high hopes for it. But afterwards we were both a bit disappointed at the rather radical modifications that had been made. I blame the stupid PG13 rating. I also don’t see the need for these extremely drawn out boss fight endings, but I guess that’s a must when doing a Hollywood movie.

The evening ended happily anyway when I was able to pick up a copy of MAKE magazine on the way home.


13 Thursday
Now it was time to visit Haight-Ashbury (which I first got to know through Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas where the hero finds himself in the hippie neighborhood ‘Hashbury’). It had come very highly recommended by my friend Einar so we thought we’d give it a try. That meant taking the bus as it’s a bit off to the side. When we got off, you could immediately tell that we were in the right place. Haight-Ashbury certainly looks the part with a lot of rainbow-colored signs and laid back weirdos all over the place.

As we walked down Haight Street we saw a lot of hilarious anti-Bush propaganda and we finally stepped into one of the shops full with funny t-shirts. I found one I really liked, but since it only came as a girls shirt Jonna bought it instead (the print was ‘Jesus is coming – look busy!’). We walked on and found an optician, and since I was running out of my one-day contacts I thought I’d buy some more. Turns out though that you can’t buy contacts in the U.S. without a prescription, it’s against the law, sigh… I hadn’t counted on using the contacts as often as I have but since it’s mostly sunny here it’s nice to have them so that I can wear sunglasses when driving. The four remaining ones I had would have to do.

When you come to the end of Haight Street there’s Golden Gate State Park on the other side. We had planned to see it too so we crossed over into it. I wasn’t that impressed to begin with though, and it didn’t look like it was getting better either. It has a lot of roads running through it where regular traffic can go, which I found a bit weird. To me a park is a place where you don’t have traffic, that’s almost the point of it, Ah well, it actually did get a bit better and we paused in the grass to eat some grapes. All around us sprinklers were continuously fighting to keep the park green, it really is dry in southern California. After some more walking we finally found the Japanese Tea Garden, according to a leaflet we got; ‘the birthplace of the fortune cookie’. It was $4 admission but I think it was worth it, they had some beautiful ponds and the traditional dwarfed bonsais. Also a really cool bridge that you have to climb to go over, a Zen garden and a couple of those wooden pillars with a many-layered roof on.

Afterwards we walked through an utterly boring rose garden and then decided to take the bus home. We had planned to visit Castro as well; supposedly the most gay neighborhood in town but it was too far off by now. We also had to do laundry so we needed to get home early.

We got directions to a place called ‘Brainwash’ from the motel manager and we set off to find it. It wasn’t as easy as we thought but when we’d almost given up we walked by a café that happened to have a laundry sign as well. Happy as pigs in mud we walked in and found out that this actually was Brainwash. It was a really nice place that had a bar and everything so you didn’t have to get bored when doing your laundry. Tonight also turned out to be ‘Open Mic Night’ and we got to hear a bunch of the local crop of comedians. We were a bit surprised to learn that this was actually the way most Americans do laundry, having your own washing machine was almost unheard of. Seems like a lot of work to me.

Fried chick feet

Day two in San Fran started out with us catching the cable car down to Pier 33 for the Alcatraz ferry. There was quite a queue to the ferry so it wasn’t until 11.30 we left for Alcatraz. On the island we got a short introduction of dos and don’ts and then we got to walk up to the top of the island where the holding cells were. The first room we entered was the showers as well as the counter were the prisoners had to turn in their possessions and receive their shiny new coveralls. The shower was an entirely open area so that the guards could keep track of everyone and ensure that the inmates didn’t attack each other. Upon exiting the room we got our audio tour equipment and continued on into the holding cells.

The tour in total took almost two hours and we got to know a lot about the prisoners and their life on ‘the rock’. Really interesting were the cells from which three prisoners escaped (you’ve probably seen the movie, the one with Clint). The fake heads, the grate covers, it all looked exactly as in the movie! There was also the story about a hostage situation where a guy fashioned a bar spreader from nuts and bolts and then starved himself so that he could go through the bars into the room where they kept the weapons. They didn’t manage to get the right key for the yard door and the whole thing went south from there. It developed into a hostage situation and several guards were killed before all the prisoners were apprehended (but not before the army was called in to help).

There was also a former guard and a former inmate there telling stories, but we missed both of them. We walked around a bit on the island and looked at a discovery special about Alcatraz (Jonna comments: I had to poke Magnus several times during the movie to keep him awake 🙂 I doubt he thought the movie was boring, we were just tired from walking around). There we got another story about a bunch of Indians (the native American kind, not the curry kind) who had occupied the island for nineteen months(!) in 1969. Personally I wouldn’t last a week on Alcatraz; the place is bonechillingly windy and has an armada of unusually annoying flies that almost takes the fun out of the entire visit. At any given time you had at least ten of them on you, not kidding! (Jonna comments: the flies were practically only at the harbor, you could walk most of the tour without being bothered by flies. But they were horrible and could easily be used as torture equipment).

After taking the ferry back, we walked over to the cable car and took it to Chinatown. There we walked around (feeling like giants, Chinese people really are tiny) looking for a restaurant. It wasn’t as easy as we’d thought as most of the ones we came across didn’t have english menus. Finally we found one that looked nice, I can’t remember the name of the place, but they had photos of Nicholas Cage and Jackie Chan eating there which was kind of neat. They had aquariums full with fish and crabs so that you would get your seafood fresh, also on the menu were chicken feet and frogs (yum!). The food came faster than at McDonalds and was really good, so I can recommend the place (if you happen to find it). (Jonna comments: it is a rather large restaurant, in comparison to the other restaurants in Chinatown. It is located at a corner. I can’t remember the name either…).

After lunch we walked back towards the shopping quarters of San Fran, which meant passing through more of Chinatown. We bought a couple of things; a string of little paper lamps (like christmas lights), a piece of cloth to hang on the wall and a couple of origami kits. We also visited an art exhibit where they had needle stitched artwork, I’d never seen anything like it before and it was really nice. The guy in the gallery asked us where we were from and when he heard ‘Sweden’ he immediately replied ‘Aaah, with the famous chocolate!’.

At the end of Chinatown there was supposed to be a gate and I was a bit disappointed when I realized that it wasn’t the same one as in Midtown Madness 3, I guess that one’s in another city. Back to back with Chinatown are the real shopping quarters of SF and we strolled around a bit, we quickly realized though that they weren’t really our kind of stores, they were more of the ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’ kind. Well, not all of them, to be fair. But the rest of them were mostly boring shoe and handbag stores.

So we ditched the shopping and went to the Metreon center and saw the latest Harry Potter on the IMAX they had. The IMAX-theater was positively huge and seating was on a first come, first served basis. Seems like a step back to me, why don’t they have numbered seats and a booking system? Anyway, the movie was actually the best of the Potter movies so far if you ask me. And it also had 3D-sequence towards the end where we got to put on goggles. Afterwards we walked back to the motel.

First day in San Francisco

We started out by walking to the nearby grocery store, Whole Foods. This is simply the best damn grocery store I’ve ever been to! To begin with, it’s very pleasantly decorated (even the floor is nice!) and the food is just fabulous. They have lots of vegetables and fresh fruit. They also have a great bakery and deli that makes the in-store hot and cold food bar. The latter is a lot of different dishes that you just scoop up into your food box and pay by the pound. We ate breakfast here every day of our stay in San Francisco.

All breakfasted up we went to buy cable car passes (the seven day kind where you can ride all you want) and took the cable car to the Fisherman’s Wharf. We hopped off at the end of the line and realized that it’s rather cold when it’s windy in SF (which it is most of the time, windy that is). Even so, we saw a few nutjobs swimming laps in the harbor basin. We walked along the piers and stumbled upon a ‘Mechanical Museum’. It turned out to be filled with vintage slot machines, many of them really cool, while other was mostly corny. Entry was free though (you’re supposed to waste money on the machines) so I really recommend a visit.

Just outside lies the USS Pampanito, an old WWII submarine (in working condition). We decided to take the audio tour and found it really nice. They also had two actual crewmembers who volunteered as guides down in the sub telling stories from actual missions and the life on board. Very cool indeed! Highly recommended, even without the crewmen.

By the time we were done with the Pampanito we were a bit hungry so we continued down the wharf to the busy Pier 39. This is more or less a tourist trap, but a bit fun anyway. We went for pizza in one of the many restaurants there. Afterward we went to the sort of tacky sounding ‘Turbo Ride 3D/4D Adventures’ which is one of those movie things where the chairs move. It was actually rather fun, and the 3D-goggles we got worked really well. I’ve never been to a 3D-movie before and was surprised of how good it looked.

Now it started to get a bit late (5-ish) but we checked the Alcatraz ferry schedule and it said that the tour took approx. 2.5 hours so decided to take it the following day. Instead we took the cable car down to market street and walked almost half its length (Spear Street to 5th Street). We didn’t find that many interesting shops though so we headed back to the motel.