Day 10

Sunday 22nd May 2011

San Francisco

“be sure to wear flowers in your hair”. OK no flowers to hand but that’s where we headed off to on our road trip.

For the first time this holiday I slept beyond six o clock; no alarms going off, police sirens in the background or noisy neighbours. I still had to wait until eight o clock before Tina woke before getting up for a shower though as we were in no hurry to get moving.

We went down for breakfast and I was pleased to find that they provided bacon today rather than sausages, although I’m not certain how they manage to get the bacon to look the way it does (we suspect it is deep fried!). Coffee and juice to follow, then back to the room to pack and soon we checked out.

Once we topped up the fuel tank we headed off on the planned three hour journey to San Fran (as the Californian’s like to call it), priming the sat nav with the next hotels address. We started off going north on the Interstate 99 for a few miles before turning off across country before joining the Interstate 5. The countryside between the two main roads was extremely rural and flat, with miles and miles of farms, mainly wheat and fruit.

Once we joined the I5, after I had ignored the sat nav instructions, the scenery changed again to extremely dry & arid landscape; it’s amazing anything can grow in those conditions. Running pretty much parallel to this main road was a new canal system which I assumed helped irrigate the land. It certainly needed it. On the left side of the road was a ridge of hills that extended for the length of the highway north. The hills were again very dry, with the occasional cows or two grazing on the straw-like pasture.

From the I5 we joined the 580 towards San Francisco crossing the Altamond Pass, a valley where there were high crosswinds and hundreds and hundreds of windmills installed on the hillsides. I suspect the amount of electricity that is generated from those mills would be enough to power SF itself!.

We continued following the sat nav and the journey seemed to be taking ages, I guess I should have stuck to the planned route. Eventually we arrived at our destination about an hour later than expected, but bang on time to check in at hotel number five. The Mariner Inn was situated close to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina and the Golden Gate Bridge.

On driving towards the hotel I remarked to Tina as to how many TV programmes had been made in San Francisco using the streets as a backdrop.

“I remember Quincy MD was made here but what was that other famous cop show?”

“That’ll be The Streets of San Francisco” Tina replied.

“Oh yeah” I replied.

We unpacked and then decided to go for a walk to find somewhere to eat, having asked Yolanda on reception the best place to go. We headed off in the general direction she told us, but struggled to find anywhere that was not full or suitable for my diet. In the end we found a supermarket and bought a salad each and took it back to the hotel room.

Whilst out walking we noted how windy the place was; the stiff breeze made it quite chilly. Whilst looking for food we stumbled across the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. We also spotted Alcatraz perched on top of the island in the middle of the bay. It was a lot bigger and closer to the shoreline than I’d expected, I’m surprised not many more prisoners escaped other than Clint Eastwood.

We decided to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge in the evening to get to a restaurant where both had steak before driving back over it, paying a $6 toll fee for the privilege. I then intended to go back to the bay area to park up to take some photos but missed the turn and ended up driving through a tunnel south. Luckily the city grid system came to the rescue as it’s normally easy to find your way back once you work out which direction you need to go. The sat nav was switched on just help help matters. We found the hotel and retired for the evening.

Both Tina and my feelings were mixed of what we’d seen so far in SF; yeah it was great to see the GG bridge and the steep streets that make the place famous, but the city didn’t spark any yearning to want to explore.

Maybe tomorrow would bring a bit more enthusiasm?

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