27.04.2011 - 02.05.2011 20 °C
After a long bus journey I arrived in San Francisco at about 8pm. Got myself orientated and began the walk to the hostel. It was easy enough to find, but was still a half hour walk with bags and all. Walking through the city at night it immediately seemed safe. Got checked in and found my room. Basically just rested after the long bus journey.
28th - 29th April
I'm staying at a hostel that is part of the same company as the one in LA, so more make your own pancakes. Found out about a free walking tour run by the hostel in the morning so joined that. We walked through various parts of the city while the guide explained the history behind each place. We went through the original and oldest Chinatown, the place where the first fortune cookie was created. After this we began the climb up the many hills of San Francisco, but you do get a good view from the top. We went to Coit tower for more good photos and then back down through various regions, eventually finishing along the sea front by the many piers. It was a good introduction on my first full day in the city.
During the tour I met a couple of English people and we decided to rent some bikes and cycle through the city and across the golden gate bridge. Despite the good weather its a very windy city, especially up on the bridge. You get a good view across the city from the bridge, we stopped a number of times for photos. It didn't take that long to cycle across. Once across we went down to Sausalito, a small town by the water front. We stopped there for a while and had lunch before later getting the ferry back to the city. A long day but a good one.
Unfortunately it turns out i'm in a room with an extremely loud snorer... didn't get much sleep. Still more good weather though, a rarity for San Francisco. Makes for some good photos while walking round.
Had to get up early (6am) for a day trip to Yosemite national park. The drive there was 3 hours long, but it wasn't too bad. We stopped along the way for breakfast, and I slept most of the way there. The national park is known for its granite cliffs and waterfalls, its also home to the worlds largest trees which only naturally grow in a small area of land here, the giant sequoia. Unfortunately we couldn't see these as we couldn't get to them. The park had a large amount of snowfall in the winter, a large amount of which is still sitting at the higher parts of the park, The park itself is very accessible to the public. There's a small village in the centre, you can stay there a couple days if you wanted to. If you have your own car you can drive through, but there's also free buses that run constantly through the area. Our tour guide/driver took us to the main sites for photos before dropping us off at the village area to do what we wanted for a few hours. I got the bus to a couple of areas and walked around getting some photos. Went back to have lunch and walked up to the bottom of the largest water fall in the park, Yosemite falls. The park is very picturesque, similar to New Zealand in a way. The park gets very busy though, more so given it was a weekend. Was good to see one of the higher rated parks in the country. Would be good to see Yellowstone too but that's less accessible unless you have a car, so this was a good compromise.
Didn't arrive back in the city till about 8pm. Slept a lot of the way back again, I’m beginning to think I become narcoleptic as soon as I enter a bus.
My last full day in San Francisco. Someone who had checked out the previous night gave me their 'city pass' that was still valid for a few days, this allowed me to ride the trams in the city for free, or 'cable cars' as they call them. They are very popular with tourist and get very crowded, but its better than walking up the hills all day. Went to Alcatraz in the morning/early afternoon. You simply get a short ferry over to the island, its only 1.5 miles away from the city. You can walk around and see various old buildings that are still standing, the main part of the tour takes place in the centrally located cell blocks at the top of the islands hill. The tour is an audio tour so you're given headphones and a digital player that guides you around the cell blocks and describes what life was like from former guards and prisoners. It also describes a couple of the high profile escape attempts. It was a good way of showing you around. Spent a few hours there and got the ferry back.
Walked along the water front and had lunch. Had a look around the famous pier 39, its become a two story pier filled with a number of shops and restaurants. Its also home to a large number of sun bathing sea lions. After this I walked up one of many hills to Lombard street, the famous crooked, winding street. Got a few photos and caught the tram down to Chinatown, forgot to take photos on the previous tour. From here I made my way back to the hostel via the financial district, lots of skyscrapers.
Wanted to book my bus ticket for the next day, so I walked to the Greyhound terminal only to be told I couldn't book it till the day of travel, still sure this isn't true. Walked back, had dinner and passed out. Was so tired the snorer didn't even keep me awake.
Packed and checked out the room, but still had to wait around most of the day. Bus to Portland is a total of 16 hours from 4pm to 8am, saves a nights accommodation. The first bus was only a couple of hours long but was small and cramped like my first bus. I was also sat next to a strange smelling homeless looking person who was talking to the person opposite in the isle about his bizarre views of the world and how everything will end. He did however later say he sat next to me because I looked 'normal' and 'safe', i'll take that as a compliment.
Arrived in Sacramento for a bus change. Luckily this one was much bigger, with big seats and more leg room, much better for the long journey over night... the narcolepsy kicked in.
San Francisco was a nice city, bigger then I expected it to be, one of my favourites so far. Was also lucky enough to not see a single cloud the entire time I was there, something not even the locals could believe. Its meant to be cloudy all the time.