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San Francisco

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 25 October 2015 | Views [197]

Leisurely start to the day, breakfast at the hotel, not brilliant, just ok, won't be back. We walked down the hill to Powell Street to catch the cable car, an antique tram system, actually drawn up the hills by a cable hidden below the track. The cable goes at a constant 9.5 mph and the tram clamps on going uphill and uses its own brakes to go downhill. Great system, but the frequency of service relies on the preceding tram reaching a certain point along the way before the next tram can hook on to the cable. All that said it's a great ride, very atmospheric and the driver and brakeman are good fun too, lots of repartee. The ride is a bit of a roller-coaster, up hills, round 90 degree corners and down long slopes, great views forwards, backwards and at intersections. A lot of fun.

We took the tram all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, a very trendy part of SF, lots of bars, cafes, restaurants and t-shirt shops. We booked a harbour cruise with the famous (?) Red and White Fleet, then grabbed an ice coffee (in Starbucks, of all places) before joining the boat. A nice warm day with just a few clouds, but we did see the sea mist drifting in and out across the harbour area. The cruise took us out along the SF shoreline and under the Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge looked ghostly in the mist from a distance but cleared as we got closer. Back under the bridge to view Alcatraz Island, on under the Bay Bridge and then back to the dock. Takes about two hours and there is a commentary, via headphones in whatever language you desire, about the history if the area, the bridges, Alcatraz, and so on, the whole trip. A good trip, well worth it.

Looking for somewhere to have lunch we noticed Bourdin's, a trendy sourdough bakery, right on the waterfront where we had clam chowder in a sourdough loaf, very tasty but quite a lot of bread. They did have a good shop selling all sorts of cooking ingredients, cookbooks, kitchen implements etc. The sourdough breads were baked in one part of the store and passed to the counters in baskets on an overhead cable system.

We walked on west enjoying the atmosphere, to Ghirardelli Square, home of a huge chocolate factory, now converted into bars and restaurants, but it is still possible to enjoy Ghirardelli chocolate, plenty for sale, and ice cream too. Heaven! Well, we had to try the ice cream, Ruth had the black cherry and I had the ........chocolate.

So, it was after four o'clock, time to head back. We joined the queue for the cable car, but it took over forty minutes for us to board. A regular service, but only every ten minutes or so, and the cable cars are not that big. Still, a great journey back, the brake man, having discovered we were British made fun of our accents, but we joined in and had a great time.

Back to the hotel, and straight to the bar for our complimentary glass of wine. On Fridays they have live music, and tonight there was a very unlikely couple - young man of Japanese descent and a black guy from Florida. The former played a guitar or ukulele and the latter played trumpet. They were good, the young man a tenor and the older man (he admitted to being 71 just last week) had a beautiful bass voice. They played all sorts of music, including some blues numbers, a great hour or so.

We had planned to join a cabaret evening in the hotel but when we arrived at the entrance we were told the price, which plus the cost of dinner, was outrageous. We declined and walked across the road to Cesario's, an Italian restaurant where we had really good food. Seafood pasta, which was packed with different fish, prawns and mussels, and Ruth's lobster ravioli. Absolutely delicious.

Yet another fantastic day.



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