Tuesday, 14 December 2010

San Francisco, USA

I travelled back in time on Sunday. My first Sunday 12th December was spent lazing in the sun on Bounty Island and then my second Sunday 12th December was spent flying half way across the world to San Francisco, 21 hours behind Fiji time. San Francisco is my last stop on my round the world trip. It's a great city. I did my own walking tour of the very hilly city. Union Square is great for shopping, with a huge Macy's, and Bloomingdale's nearby. From there I walked up through China town to North Beach, the Italian quarter, and then to Fisherman's Wharf. Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf is great, it has good views of the Bay and Alcatraz Island, lots of restaurants and small boutique shops. From there I walked along the wharf to Hyde Street Pier and then up the very steep Hyde Street to Lombard street which is apparently the crookedest street in the world! It's on a very steep incline so the road weaves to help the traffic get down it.

I caught a boat to Alcatraz Island, about a mile from the mainland. It used to be a fortress and military prison, and then a maximum security penitentiary, today it is a national parkland. I took a guided audio tour of the cellhouse which housed all the inmates, famous occupants were Al Capone and Robert 'The Birdman' Stroud. It was a fascinating tour, I tried to imagine how it would feel to be cooped up in a 5ft by 10ft cell all day, every day, only leaving for meals and recreation if you had good behaviour. If not you would get locked up on D block, in isolation 24 hours a day. The guide demonstrated the locking mechanism of all the cells and the clanging sound made me shiver. The other buildings that used to house the warden and other officers are now ruins or demolished.

The one thing I did really want to see in San Francisco was the Golden Gate Bridge, and I wasn't disappointed. It was a cold but bright sunny day so I hired a bike to cycle over the bridge to Sausalito. It was a nice ride, not too many hills (surprisingly!). The bridge ride itself was great and then I carried on along the bike path through Sausalito to Mill Valley and then back to Sausalito to catch the ferry to Fisherman's Wharf. I think San Francisco is my favourite city in the states.

I am sad that I have come to the end of my year of adventure, but it has been a fantastic year with so many great and unique experiences, it's too difficult to pick a favourite! Deciding to travel round the world was the best decision I've ever made, and I now have so many great memories to look back on.

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