14th Jul 2012 - 15th Jul 2012
We left the warm sunshine of Alamo and about forty minutes later, parked the faithful Toyota under the grey skies of San Francisco. Pulling on sweaters and coats, we set off at a brisk pace towards Pier 39. The combination of cold, dull weather and shops full of crap mean that, during the summer months anyway, this area of the city has all the charm of a typical English seaside town!
After lunch, we moved on and, amongst other things, drove up and down the hills in old San Francisco. Including of course the famous wiggly bit of Lombard Street, which we both had a go at!
We arrived at our host’s apartment on Telegraph Hill late in the afternoon. Lynda has lived there for more than 25 years and one glance out of the huge lounge windows made it obvious why she has no intention of leaving! She had very kindly prepared dinner, which we ate whilst marvelling at the views of the city, the waterfront and old wharves and across to the Bay Bridge and beyond.
The next day, Saturday, we set off to do the 49 Mile Drive, which takes you past all of the major sights in San Francisco. However, there are so many distractions that we managed less than half of the circuit! We spent ages looking at, and photographing, the Golden Gate Bridge from all different vantage points, and then wandered around the Presidio which used to be a huge military post where soldiers and their families lived. We then treated ourselves to lunch overlooking Ocean Beach, and topped of the afternoon with a stroll round the Jean Paul Gautier exhibition at the de Young Museum.
That evening, the three of us headed towards Chinatown for dinner. Typically, we’d left it too late and many places were closing up – even here, people eat early. We ended up in, what turned out to be, a very average Vietnamese eatery. As we walked in, we closed the door – as we sat down, the manageress opened it again, letting in the cool, damp Pacific Coast air. Apparently the door had to stay open or it would get too hot in the kitchen! To judge by the food, we figured that the heat had already got to the cook…
Out of Vietnam and round the corner to Italy, where we popped into a superb little café and indulged in Tiramisu, custard horn (leave it…), and a mean espresso. The conversation got round to the famous Cable Cars and how we didn’t get time to visit the museum. Lynda suggested that we could stop at the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse (to give it its full title) on the way home, just for a glance through the window. By now it was 10:30, so obviously the museum was going to be shut.
At this point that funny coincidence thing, which we’d experienced more than a few times on the trip, kicked in again.
We pulled into a vacant parking spot right outside the Cable Car Powerhouse, choosing to ignore the prominent sign; “Tow Away Zone, no parking at ANY TIME”. As we got out of the car, the driver of the pick-up truck that had just parked behind us asked, “How’s it going?” On hearing our accents, he asked if we’d like to come in for a look round. Now, when the Superintendent of the San Francisco Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse asks if you want to look round a piece of history that few other people will see close up, there’s only one answer!