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Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

8 – 9 Jun 2002: San Francisco, California

On 8 June, JL and I had arranged to meet at San Francisco International Airport at 1 pm. The twist is we were flying in from opposite corners of the world. She is taking a 15-hrs flight from Singapore while I am flying in from Louisville. From there, we took an airport shuttle bus to Courtyard SF Downtown at 299 Second Street. After unloading our luggage, we headed straight to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world’s largest suspension bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge  

The Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering masterpiece that was completed in 1937. It took thousands of workers, four years and US$35 million dollars to build. Set against a beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the colossal structure is 2,737m long with two enormous Art Deco towers. It is supported by enormous cables with a diameter of 90 cm!

  

It was an experience to cross the 3-km long bridge along the sidewalk. The wind was howling at our ears and at times, we could really feel the structure swaying. 

  

Chinatown

Been 3 weeks away from home, all I want for my dinner is an authentic Chinese food. San Francisco’s Chinatown was our natural choice. This is the most famous and largest chinatown in the States. Its ornamented houses and great restaurants (mainly Cantonese as the immigrants mostly came from Guangdong Province) have became the city’s popular tourist attractions. We settled into a cosy Cantonese Restaurants and ordered our favourite Wanton Noodle. The texture of the noodle was crucial and they made it right. Topped with succulent black sauce and freshly-fried crispy wantons. Hmm…it was simply heaven. 

   

Lombard Street  

Widely regarded as the “crookedest street in the world, the Lombard Street is the most photographed road in San Francisco. Lombard Street was a main road leading to the Golden Gate Bridge but a small section near Russian Hill was too steep for vehicles to pass by. This part of the Lombard Street was later made into a switchback with 8 sharp turns.

  

  

  

 

One of the great ways to travel in San Francisco is using the famed cable cars. It is amazing that the engine is strong enough to conquer the many steep slopes and hills in the city. There are three operating lines and we are taking the Powell-Hyde  line to Fisherman’s Wharf.

  
  

Fisherman’s Wharf  & Pier 39  

Fisherman’s Wharf is a delightful waterfront area, bursting with great energy and fabulous seafood restaurants. In the past, fishermen gathered here to unload their catch of the day and this place is well known for its wonderful population of Dungeness crab. We were drooling  and calmed our empty stomach with steaming hot clam chowder soup with fresh sourdough bread. Nothing beats having fish n chips for main course!

At the Ghirardelli Square, a long beeline was forming for the country’s most scrumptious chocolate, The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. She began her rich history of chocolate making at Ghirardelli Square in 1852 and specialises in hot fudge sundaes. Not wanting to spend hours in the queue, we decided to give it a miss. 

 

   

 Just a few blocks away from the Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39. Once a cargo harbour and a quiet  fishing village, now this pier is just filled with people, souvenir shops and restaurants. No wonder it is often dubbed as the “Best Place to Watch People in San Francisco”.

Another highlight is watching the Pier 39’s famous (and rather lazy) sealions busking under the hot sun. The first sea lions arrived here in 1990, shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Their numbers grew very grew into a large colony of hundreds .

    

    

Alcatraz  

Despite attempts by many, no one has successfully escaped from Alcatraz during its 29 years in operation. The prison is tightly guarded with barbed wire, watchtowers and remote controlled doors, as well as protected by the stategic location with freezing cold water and strong current around the island. I first heard of Alcatraz Island when great magician David Copperfield successfully made his galmour escape from this infamous prision from which no one could escape. 

Alcatraz Island or Isla de los Alcatraces was named for the many seabirds on the rocky island. The only way to get to Alcatraz is by a ferry operated by Alcatraz Cruises, located at Pier 33. The rental of Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio Tour is essentially to self-guide and orientate around the prison. Be prepared to spend at least 2 hours in the island.

  

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10 Jun 2002: Yosemites, CA

Today, we are joining Super Sightseeing’s day-trip to Yosemite. The round-trip takes about 14 hours; half of that time driving to the park and the journey back to San Francisco. 

Yosemite Valley 

Yosemite Valley is the centerpiece attraction of Yosemite National Park.

 

 

 

Yosemite Falls 

Yosemite has some of the highest and grandest waterfalls in North America. The Yosemite falls are fed mostly by snowmelt and the peak flow usually happens from late May to June. We were in luck to see the Bridalveil Fall as it was still the snowmelt season.

  

 

  

Foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountains

 
 
Merced River
  

“El Capitan”, a 3000-foot tall vertical granite monolith, one of the world’s favorite rock climbing site

The generous growth of the alpine woodlands and meadows in the park makes it a perfect habitat for varied animals, birds and reptiles. Common roamers in the park are the squirrels and mule deers. The squirrels seemed tamed and allowed us to get really close to them…

 

 

On the other hand, the mule deers are pretty shy and constantly shunned from tourists and cameras. The irony was we were having our late packed lunch in the woods when a young deer came very close to JL …SNAPPED!!! Got you!

  

 

It was late at night when we returned back to our hotel. We quickly packed our bags for our early flight to Las Vegas at 8.50 am tomorrow. This was exciting as we could not wait to see the Grand Canyon.

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