|Sunday, May 6, 2007, we drove from Santa Cruz area to the northern part of San Francisco. I thought it would be best to make this trip through downtown and across the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday. It turned out that the traffic wasn't too bad, but there were still a lot of people out there that didn't go to church that morning. During the drive downtown we saw the typical row houses with no space between houses and each painted a different color, then across the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which was neat. They didn't charge a toll, if you were northbound which we were, but they do if southbound. We arrived at the Marin RV Park by early afternoon. The lady at the check-in desk gave us a map and detailed instructions on how to get into the city, which was very helpful. We were only a few blocks from the commuter ferry dock, so each morning we went into San Francisco, we took the ferryboat. It does not carry any cars, but it did carry many people and a few bicycles. It had very nice lounge chairs, tables with bench seats or airline type chairs. Most everybody pulled out their Blackberry, computer, cell phone or papers and got some work done or at least it looked like it. Maybe they were playing games of something but they looked busy. There also was a snack bar and it seems to me if I ever had to commute to work, this would be the way to go. No worries about commuter traffic, parking problems or bridge tolls to pay. It was about a 30-minute trip via ferryboat. After arriving in the city at the Ferry Terminal Building, one could use the free transfer to catch either a city bus or the wharf area trolley. We used the trolley, which are vintage rail trolleys with the overhead electric power wire. They shuttle you around the wharf area, which goes from Fisherman's Wharf on the north end to the Ferry Terminal Building on the South end. This turned out to be a very smooth system for us to visit the city.
Monday, we took the ferry, transferred to the trolley and got off the trolley at pier 43, where we got on a double decker bus for a tour of the city. The tour gave us an overview of the city. We were only allowed to get off the bus at three locations, a hill overlooking the city, at Golden Gate Park and then at an observation area to look at the Golden Gate Bridge after crossing the bridge. At the Golden Gate Park you had an option to visit the Botanical Gardens or the Japanese Tea Gardens. We chose the Japanese Tea Gardens, which was very beautiful. After the tour the bus driver dropped us off at pier 39, which is full of shops and restaurants. There was also a double decker merry-go-round, which I have not seen before and then at the end of the pier there where many sea lions hanging out and sunning themselves.
Tuesday, we again took the ferry and transferred to the trolley and got off at pier 33 to board the boat to Alcatraz Island to visit the Alcatraz Prison. The boat ride was about 10 minutes to the island, which is now operated by the National Parks system. After arriving on the island, you walk up the hill into the main cellhouse. You are given an audio devise that directs you about cellhouse. The voices on the audio devise were those of former guards and prisoners. It was an interesting tour and they discussed two escape attempts, one that was not successful and one that was possibly successful. They are not sure what happened to those three men, they could have perished in the ocean or could be out free someplace. The prison was last used and closed in 1963.
Wednesday, we again took the ferry into downtown, but decided to go an hour later that morning. That was a slight mistake because it was packed with Padrae baseball fans. We did not know there was a daytime game that day. Somehow everybody fit on the ferry. After arriving in downtown, we walked about a block to the end of one of the famous Cable Car lines. There are four lines for the cable cars and they all meet at an intersection in downtown. We bought an all day pass, which allows you to transfer to any line and get off and on at any time. So, we rode most of all the four lines. We just rode through Chinatown but stopped at several other places. Once to eat lunch, another time to see Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world, another time to visit Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop and another stop at the Cable Car Museum. The Cable Car Museum was of course really interesting to me. It has all the mechanics to run all four of the cables that power the cable cars from this one location. It had displays of how cable cars operate and how they grab the cable to move the cars. We then rode back to the end of one of the lines and walked to the Ferry Terminal Building. As luck would have it, the fans from the baseball game were arriving at the same time, so we again rode a packed ferry. Thursday, we are heading further up north in California to do something we have not done before, ride another train. Ha.