Day 2

My feet tell me that I definitely over-extended myself today…. 🙂

Unfortunately, I’m still not used to the whole picture thing, so I have tons of pics (and movies) from my morning, but that’s it. I’ll get them on Flickr… eventually.

Here are the day’s highlights, and only highlights because if I put down everything I saw and did, no one will believe that I actually did and saw all of that. It’s been that sort of day. You try to see San Francisco in only two full free days there!


From Neil’s, conveniently located in Russian Hill, near Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, I trekked to:

1) the famous Lombard Street, touted as the crookedest in SF. Apparently, the locals know that’s not true, but the real crookedest street is in an unsavoury part of town…. At any rate, the crooked part of Lombard is beautiful, paved with bricks and immaculately landscaped. I have no idea how residents of this part of the street manage to navigate in and out of their driveways. I’m no photographer, but I think this pic is pretty good!
2) Pier 39. There, I used my CityPass to visit the Aquarium of the Bay. I got a stamp on my hand that would have given me in and out privileges for the day, but I saw everything in one visit and didn’t return later for shows. Highlights included a tunnel surrounded by water in which we could see sea stars, leopard sharks, bat rays, skates, big sea bass, and much more. Very cool. I walked through twice. A highlight of this walk was a display where there was an open skate pouch (‘mermaid’s purse’) with a live developing embryo in it. Followed an awesome touch pool where I got to feel leopard sharks, skates, sea cucumbers, sea stars, urchins, etc. I have to say that except for the sharks, I could have been at a similar establishment on the east coast, the species are that similar.

3) After the aquarium, I had time to catch the 10:45 Bay Cruise, also courtesy of my CityPass. When I got on, I thought it was going to be a bit hokey, but no. We got an awesome tour of the bay, going all the way under the Golden Gate Bridge and then circling Alcatraz (which I’ll be visiting on Saturday with Neil). I took some awesome pictures of the bridge from many angles and most of Alcatraz. The weather was beyond cold and I was so glad I’d brought a sweater. One lady had just a tank top and I swear she was turning blue, until a gentleman took pity on her and handed her his jacket. Some people are just silly. A highlight of the tour was seeing the sea lions of Pier 39 who used to be chased away but are now a tourist attraction (as is just about everything in SF!). The narration (by Jules Verne’s character Captain Nemo, believe it or not) was pretty funny and very informative.

Here is the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge (choosing that one because it’s not a view you often see of this bridge!):
and here is Alcatraz (I can’t wait to be able to remove the people in the foreground from all my Alcatraz pics!):

I was surprised by how beautiful and lush the island is. Saturday’s visit can’t come soon enough!

4) It was noon when we got back and I had just one more stop to make at Pier 39. My CityPass had a bonus ticket for the Boudin Bakery, which produces the most famous sourdough in San Francisco using ‘mother dough’ that’s been fed since the 1800’s! This museum was fabulous and really set the history of the bakery into its historical context. The thing I’ll remember the most is the story of how during the earthquake of 1906 the owner of the bakery had just enough time and presence of mind to scoop the starter into a bucket before running to safety as her business burned to the ground. Saving the starter meant that she could restart her business and, essentially, lost nothing. Now bad for some flour and water! The self-guided tour ended at a tasting room where I got an amazing snack of sour dough, ciabatta, and chocolate and raisin breads, with various toppings like marinated parmesan.

5) My traitorous map made it seem like the Exploratorium was close-by, so I decided to hike there next. Let’s just say I arrived an hour later extremely footsore. 🙂 I hadn’t spent any money yet today (!) so I decided to not look for lunch and just ate at the museum before exploring. The Exploratorium is so much fun. For those in Ottawa, just think of what the Science and Tech museum used to be like, and then multiply the fun factor by at least 1,000. Every single exhibit is interactive and teaches you something about a different branch of science. One of the cooler exhibits were a ‘shadow camera.’ I have no idea how it worked, but a flash of bright light would capture our shadows. Really, really cool effect. There were also some developing chicken embryos in the same style as the skate pouch. I spent a full three hours at this museum until I’d had my fill of fun. I’m such a kid. 🙂 A final note regarding the Exploratorium is an hysterical find at the gift shop–an Einstein action figure. Love it! Coming out, I went around a lovely lagoon bordered by ‘palace’ ruins. I’m adding this so I can mention the only moment I regret not thinking to pull out my camera. A family of mallards was swimming close to shore looking for handouts. In the middle of the family, nonchalantly trying to fit in, was a sea gull. I’ve never seen a gull behave like that and I wasn’t the only one to find the sight pretty damn funny!

6) I was completely burnt out by this point, but I had a rogue ticket left in my book for a downtown attraction. The other two were for Golden Gate Park. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to see the downtown one any other day and it was open till 8:45 today. Since it’s something I wouldn’t have paid to see, I decided that a half-assed, ‘been there, done’ that tour would be sufficient. Which it was. You see, I’m not a fan of modern art, as in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (or SFMoMA for cute). Now, there were some things I actually liked and I really enjoyed the Martin Munkasci photograph exhibit, but, otherwise, modern art exasperates me!!! The big going on today was the ‘Matisse as sculptor’ exhibit, but I just breezed through it since I’m not a huge fan of Matisse. At any rate, I did the SFMoMA in 45 minutes flat and I can’t imagine I would have spent more time there had I not been so burnt. I’m embarrassed to admit that the best part of going to the SFMoMA was the LONG bus ride from the Exploratorium. Hey, I can’t like everything!

7) After dinner at a nearby diner I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to walk home, so I hired a cab. Now, that’s exhaustion for you.

My left little toe is currently double its normal size thanks to an impressive blister and my SPF 60 failed me around mid-day, so I’m a tad cooked (but not burned, thankfully) and very footsore. What an amazing day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll just add that Neil came home with an impressive earthquake survival kit, given to him by Google. Obviously, Google knows something we don’t know, and I’m quite nervous. 🙂