A Warm Welcome in Chilly San Francisco
Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
42Trip End Nov 02, 2010
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Where I stayed
Steve & Karen's, Belmont
Our Affordable Travel contact Steve picked us up very smartly and whisked us to his house in Belmont. We really appreciated his kindness remembering our nightmare in Honolulu. Steve and his wife, Karen were awesome in their kindness and welcome. The next day Steve drove us all around San Francisco, beginning with a trip to the coast. Unbelievably, San Fran was cold, recalling the famous quote by Mark Twain- "The coldest winter I ever had was a summer in San Francisco."
Having grown up in Hawaii and having surfed as a youth, Steve went out of his way to take us to the famous big wave location, Mavericks
This surf break which can rival any big wave spot in the world remained a secret for more than 15 years despite being on the outskirts of a major American city. The only guy to surf it was Jeff Clark who has now established a surf shop there. Apparently no one believed his stories of 30' waves! These days it is a major big wave location and the place where legendary Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo tragically was lost despite many other surfers,jet skis and even a rescue helicopter attempting to find him. I bet he died of cold! The place is ridiculously dangerous with its cold water, howling winds, gnarly rocks and raging rips.
The next attraction was the Golden Gate Bridge. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary of how it was built, take it. It is one of the world's engineering marvels. We would have walked across but the cold prohibited it. Needing lunch we headed for Fisherman's Wharf. What a scene!
There were lots of tourists & seagulls & musicians everywhere -one group with a fabulous sax player & one group with steel kettle drums & a guy encouraging passersby to dance with him, while he sang "You sexy thing." I declined!
There were 'Segway Tour Groups' & trolley buses passing by. (A segway is an electric conveyance for one, that looks like a pogo stick with large wheels! Missed the photo op, I'm afraid.))
The boat to Alcatraz was at the wharf
The air was full of the smell of San Francisco sourdough from Boudins bakery (woe is me!)
Peter & Steve ate rather expensive crab salad from the first stall; I went '2 streets back' & got a big serve of prawns for 1/2 the price. What was that title again?
After lunch we walked down the street to the Cannery, a beautiful old building turned shopping complex that seems to have been hit by the GFC, & had an icecream ( San Fran's best, apparently) & then up the hill to Ghirardelli's, where you can see their original chocolate making machines in action.
Later on Steve and Karen took us to a newly opened Indian restaurant which was great, especially for Dorothy who loves curry so much that she eats it for breakfast at home, and Karen told us about the education cut-backs in California due to the Global Financial Crisis. She is a gun librarian at the local elementary school who really goes out of her way to interest and encourage the kids- at the time she was growing silk worms to promote an understanding of fabrics, a subject she was passionate about since she is a gifted quilt maker- and she and 7 other teachers and support staff were being laid off for next year! That is approximately 20% of the school's staff! It wouldn't happen in Australia without all teachers going on strike. There and then I was glad I hadn't cancelled my Union fees even though I'm having a year off. And you know what? The only reason I've got the privilege to travel this year is because of a provision in my contract which was negotiated by the Education Union here in W.A. I'm sticking with the Union! It's a funny thing that America would rather spend billions of dollars bombing people from other countries for highly dubious reasons than educating their own children at a fraction of the cost. While we were in Hawaii they cut 17 days from their school year because they couldn't find $6 million when each new jet fighter costs in the vicinity of $250 million. And America is our role model? Give me a break!