Stocking Up on Breakfast
We woke up to another grey and cold-looking day. This time, the overcast windy conditions reached inland to downtown as well. We might as well have stayed at home. But undeterred, we both donned long trousers and long-sleeved shirts before venturing out. Today was our much-anticipated trip to Alcatraz.
Breakfast was consumed at the (apparently very famous) Sears just up the road at Powell and Sutter, and once we were suitably stocked up on bacon, pancakes and coffee it was time to hop onto one of those cable car thingies and head off to prison for the main event of the day. After a further short break for coffee, and photographing seals at Fisherman’s Wharf, we jumped on one of Blue and Gold’s finest for the trip over to Alcatraz. A cautionary note to future travellers – if you take this boat on a cloudy windy day, don’t go on the upper deck, it’s cold.
And there we were at Alcatraz ( www.nps.gov/alca/ ), one of the most infamous prisons ever built, and the setting for many a good film staring Clint Eastwood and Tyne Daly. I have to admit that the actual prison part was slightly smaller than expected. But we felt the self-guided interpretive tour was well worth the few pennies it cost to rent the headset. Our retrospective view of the place is further enhanced by the fact that Kev only took photos in black and white. Somehow the place comes out better in black & white, and it suited the grey and cold conditions perfectly.
After the tour we toyed with the idea of walking round further bits of the island, but quite frankly, we were freezing, so we opted for the wimp’s option of catching the ferry back and engaging in some retail therapy at Pier 39 instead. This began with a jolly nice warming drink and lardy lunch. It culminated with Kas buying a big hat. This was in anticipation of us moving on to somewhere where there would be enough sunshine to justify an avoidance strategy.
The Tourist Trap
Next stop was that top tourist trap known as Lombard Street. More specifically, that bit of Lombard Street that has the bends in it. Surprisingly enough, loads of other people were walking or driving down it at the same time as us. Most inconsiderate of them, spoiling our photos like that.
At this point we reached a difficult juncture in the day. It was too early to go back to the hotel, and too late to head off anywhere else of substance. So we plumped for a bus back downtown to investigate photographic opportunities offered by the larger buildings there. Obviously, any good photographic expedition needs to be meticulously planned, especially when you’re cold. We planned it by renewing our acquaintance with the Starbucks organization ( www.starbucks.com ) at one of their many sites downtown. This one was in the shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid, and we were less than surprised to discover they had exactly the same coffee menu as the ones back home, although the selection of cakes, cookies and other foodstuffs was different.
The best photographic positions seemed to be the Transamerica Pyramid and 101 California Street. At the latter, Kas seriously asked a woman standing at the bus stop if she wouldn’t mind standing slightly further to her right, so that she was out of shot. Cheeky madam!
Having satisfied our photographic desires it was sufficiently late to go back to the hotel for beer, snoozing and a clean-up before heading off for a well-earned dinner. This night we chose a retro-American themed diner on Powell called Lori’s ( www.lorisdiner.com ) just one block south of Union Square. It’s apparently very famous. What we remember about the place is some top-notch American burgers and a room full of genuine retro American icons. Once again the food was good and plentiful and the beer was cold and wet.