Still adjusting to the timezone we forced ourselves into a 10 hour sleep to get on top of it. Still up early we tucked into the free breakfast that comes with the room. Again the fraudulent bacon was brought in, but this time the eggs were something I’d not had before. They had chopped up walnuts in them and some pepper on top. Was great stuff went down well while I grumbled about bacon.
The satnav took us via Oakland which was a mistake. Not because Oakland is a dump, we would find out later it is but at this point all we knew was that it was busy. We sat there for over an hour queuing to get onto the Bay Bridge and subsequently missed our boat to Alcatraz. We took our time once we knew it had sailed, and checked into the hotel. The San Remo is within walking distance of all the wharf action and is referred to as a boutique hotel. In my terms that means it is incredibly hipster. But I liked it. The hotel had character and that is rare nowadays. A lot of the windows in the rooms were internal or fake. Meaning that you would open your bedroom window to find a hotel hallway. It was quirky and different. There are things you give up being in a boutique hotel, one of them is your own bathroom. The whole floor had to share two toilets and two showers. I forget how many rooms there were on our floor but we were room 25!
We parked up the Mustang and walked to Pier 33 for our Alcatraz boat an hour late. They put us in the standby queue and when the boat looked half full we got on. The trip to Alcatraz was fast and smooth. The prison is world famous and I was looking forward to the history lesson as well as a decent view of the America’s Cup races. We docked and unloaded onto a spacious welcome area. The guide for the island was only a $1 so I snapped out two of those and we started the ascent of Everest… I mean Alcatraz. The island is actually a decent climb from the bottom to the top. A good 15 minute stroll on a steep incline. I wouldn’t have found it hard normally but I had cut my foot the day before and was limping like an old man.
We got to the top to find fabulous views and a lighthouse. We consulted the map and located where we were. Next to us was quite a sizeable burnt out building. This was the governors mansion at the summit of the island. Around us were a couple more burnt out structures. This dates back to 1970 a year after the Indian occupation. The occupation was a two year reclamation using a clause in a hundred year old treaty that any out of use or abandoned land could be reclaimed by Native Indians. After the fire, they ran low on water and electricity. The city was turning off the essentials to try and get them to come back to the mainland. The occupation was forcibly ended in June 1971 but they had made their point and raised awareness for Indian rights.
The island stinks. It’s crumbling and stinks. It smells like every seagull in the bay goes there to crack out it’s morning dump. I ignored this as we went to the south coast of the island to watch the America’s Cup. I could see Team New Zealand dossing about with sails down, then near the start time they went up and it shot off like rocket. The race was stopped before it had even got started. Excessive winds was cited as the reason for the cancellation and I was pretty disappointed. I had been looking forward to seeing a race for months and it was cancelled just before it was due to run. That said the boats rounded Alcatraz and I got some great shots. We had been offered media passes for the races and I had been kicking myself all day for not taking them, but with hindsight we made the right choice.
We walked to Fisherman’s Wharf straight after and sought out some dinner. It’s incredibly…… fake. It’s like a shopping mall on a pier. I found it very entertaining though. I like to go to places like this purely for the fun factor. We marched straight down to the end and dined at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant. It’s based on the Forrest Gump film and has snippets of it all around from white feathers on the floor to table tennis bats on the tables. As a fan I loved it, though I didn’t love the food or the price! I had the crabs legs for $25 and left hungry, bleeding and covered in crab juice. I’ve never had such an unfulfilled meal and the $25 price tag took the biscuit. Emma had the coconut shrimp which was nice enough. The waiter came up 6 times to ask if we were ready to order, then as soon as we had finished eating brought the bill over. It was busy but the service made us feel unwanted. We still got us a Bubba Gump glass and t-shirt though. We are massive suckers for merchandise.
On leaving we walked back toward the shore and Emma came out with the perfect description of Fisherman’s Wharf
“It’s like Diagon Alley but for the seaside.”
We drove Lombard street, the crookedest street in the world and it was strange. Even at 5mph it is dizzying and cool at the same time. Emma wasn’t a fan due to the heights nature of it but I found it great fun. We followed that up with some Clam Cowder. My word we need this all over the UK. It came in a proper sourdough bread bowl and was great for filling a hole. I can see it being a must on a cold winters day.
Filled up we then headed to the Golden Gate Bridge to get some night shots. There were a lot of photographers there, mainly amateurs judging from what they were doing. It’s a great location for a view of the bridge with the city in the background. I offered to lend a guy my tripod who was using a post for a long exposure and ruining it by rocking the post. He declined I suspect because he didn’t know how to attach the camera to the tripod. He gave the top of it a quizzical kinda scared look. I wanted to visit treasure island before bed. Treasure Island is a man made island in the bay. They created it by dumping all the earth from the golden gate bridge just off a small natural island by the Bay Bridge. It was until recently a naval base, but is now an expanding island community. I paid my respects to Andrew Simpson, an Olympic gold medal winning sailor who died there 4 months ago in training for the America’s Cup and we headed back to San Remo for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
[Emma took this]