After visiting Alcatraz, we jumped back on the ferry and along to Pier 39 to see some California sea lions, yeah Sarah loves sea lions. The sea lions first arrived in town following the 1989 earthquake, and once it was decided they could stay, they’ve never left (well occasionally, but they always come back!).
Watching their antics for a couple of minutes trying to understand why they ALL needed to be crowded onto two pontoons out of a possible 15 or so, we caught one smart seal that had screwed the others off and had an acre of room on his own pontoon, showing that sea lions, like the city dwelling humans, feel the need to condense into the smallest areas. Other than the seals of Pier 39 there are a bunch of overpriced chain stores, bars and restaurants.
From the eastern side of downtown San Fran bulge two towers which dominate the hills above. First, the Transamerica Pyramid, the highest skyscraper in town built in 1972 and designed by William Pereira. Second is the Coit Tower, balanced on top of Telegraph Hill, looking as though a tough stiff wind would knock it off it’s precarious placement. There’s an observation deck allowing you to take an elevator to the Matt’s a bit of a sucker for architecture, so sorry for the boring bit.
Dodging between the various trams that ply along the Embacadero, a sense of yesteryear prevails the mind, leaving us wishing we could drive one of these down to Panama, before heading uphill for Chinatown. This is the biggest and oldest Chinatown in America and, like most others, it has the Chinese gate, colourful signage jutting out from buildings, cheap dodgy looking buffets and red lanterns strung across the streets. Passing through and not wanting to possibly induce a case of the squirts, we retreated over and downhill towards where we’d left the bikes.
Opting for the flatest route home we followed the Embacadero to the Ferry Building Marketplace, where you can stroll around the craft market stalls and amazing eateries inside. A satisfying beef sandwich later (head to American Eatery, it was amazing!), we headed over for another food stop at Farmerbrown’s Little Skillet. The place had an after work buzz going on, and we stood out from the shirts and skirts in our sweaty travel attire. While the beer was tasty, save your self the $14 and never order the Po’Boy oyster sandwich. This was the special for the day and as Matt was keen to try it for the first time, however the bread was soggy, the oysters were soggy when they were supposed to be fried, and the whole thing was actually a disgusting mess. Good thing it’s not on their menu permanently.
Wishing to drown our sorrows after the worst meal of the trip so far, we took a detour through the artist driven murals of Clarion Alley, finishing off at funky craft beer bar Zeitgeist, were the packed beer garden vibe and selection of beers on tap lifted our spirits. Riding the bikes home we were enjoying a moment of horn tooting, bell ringing joy when a local crazy lost the plot at Matt, telling him to ‘Come to my house, grow some balls, stop being a bitch!!’
Anyone who grew up on Australia in the 90’s must remember the show Full House, yeah the one with the Olsen Twins (who would have thought them pair of ugly ducklings would turn out so hot). 1709 Broderick Street is the location of the well known house used in the opening credits, however that famous shot of the row of houses with a sweet view over downtown San Francisco is the Painted Ladies located on Alamo Park, which waking the next morning we realised was right up the street.
See ya later San Fran it’s off to Monterey Bay!!