alcatraz + golden gate bridge + cable car

Today was our last day in San Francisco and we aimed to finish it high: By going to the city’s top 3 attractions – Alcatraz Prison, Golden Gate Bridge and the cable car – all in one day. Could we do it? That wasn’t the question. We must do it!

The first order of the day was to go to Alcatraz. We took an early morning tour that we booked online with Alcatraz Cruises, way in advance before coming to San Francisco. Glad we did that, the ticket sold out really fast. The fee included boat ride, entrance to the prison and audio guide.

Welcome to the maximum security prison that held Al Capone.

Alcatraz had some history with American Indians, which explained that graffiti.

Some of the cells. There were different kinds of cells for different level of sentencing. 

A look inside one of the cells.

The recreational area. Only well-behaved inmates had the privilege to use it.

The dark cells. Those detained here must be very bad people.

And what did inmates do in their free time? They knit.

Hello, you got a visitor. 

Outside the prison, the island was covered by pretty vegetations.

Some ruins of the prison. They actually sold the pieces as souvenirs.

Would you like a piece of concrete… err… I mean history?

Golden Gate Bridge could be seen from afar.

The boat that took us for to and from the island.

We returned to San Francisco pier and tried to get a boat ride to across the bay to Sausalito. Unfortunately all the earlier boats were full. We only managed to get one later in the afternoon. So we spent the time walking around the pier and had my most favorite meal in the city…

…fried squids at Fisherman’s Wharf. Yummy!

We then got onto the boat to Sausalito. It was a nice windy ride. By the time we reached Sausalito it was almost sunset, so we were in a bit of a hurry. We still had to find a nice spot to see Golden Gate Bridge before it turned dark! After some thinking we decided to take the bus back heading back to San Francisco. From the map we saw that the bus would pass by a couple of points where would could view the bridge. So we decided to try our luck.

The bus crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. Hey at least I could tell people that I already crossed it :-D

We got off just after this toll plaza at Fort Point.

Just the view I was looking for!

I was so happy that despite of crossing the bay several times, by boat and bus, we finally found a perfect spot to take some really nice photos of the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. Anyone who came to San Francisco should take a photo of the bridge from Fort Point. Couldn’t go home without that, could we?

We then took another bus back to the pier and headed to Hyde Street to catch the cable car back to our hotel at Market Street. The queue at Powell-Hyde line was really long! But because it was our last chance to do it, we braved the chilly night and lined up for hours just for a ride.

Got my cable car ride, finally! All 3 things planned for the day – DONE!

Went to the hotel to get our luggage and took a cab to the train station, where we would catch our bus to Los Angeles. Yes, you read it right, we waited for the bus at the train station. It was a huge double-decker bus. Unfortunately it only allowed one piece of luggage per person. Wait, just one? No way. Fiza and I each had 2 huge suitcases, filled with the things we bought throughout the trip. We tried to negotiate but the driver was adamant, just 1 suitcase per person. Finally we told the driver, “It’s okay, let everyone board first. If there’s space for our 4 bags, we’ll go with you. Otherwise we won’t.”

So we waited till everyone boarded. The whole time I was praying that there would be space for our bags. The last person finally boarded and alas, the driver picked up our bags and put them in the trunk! Happy happy joy joy! We thanked the driver and got on the bus.

Good bye San Francisco! And good night!

a long walk in the park

Merry Xmas San Francisco! Most attractions were closed so we decided to go to one place that would always be open – the park. First stop was Alamo Square. It was a walk down my childhood memory lane, as it was here the series “Full House” was set. I watched nearly every episode while growing up. And I could still hum the opening song!

Victorian style houses at Alamo Square. 

The Tanners house in “Full House” looked very much like one of these.

Nice balcony :-p

From Alamo Square we decided to walk up and down the slopes of San Francisco towards Golden Gate Park. Found a café that was open and grabbed some coffee and sandwich. Interestingly there was a long line in there. Made me wonder didn’t San Francisco people have somewhere better to be at on Xmas morning (home with family maybe) than a café?

Fiza the red riding hood strolling through the park.

Conservatory of Flowers and beautiful flowerbeds on its front yard.

Golden Gate Park was so big it got its own waterfall…

…and a lake (maybe several actually) too. 

We walked till the far end of the park (it was a really long walk) and reached this beautiful beach. 

Further uphill was Sutro District. Sunset here was really amazing.

By this time we realized that we walked too far and it was really hard to get a cab back to the hotel (it was Xmas, what did we expect?). We kept on walking towards a residential area nearby, hoping for a cab to drive by, but we weren’t so lucky. Saw an open convenience store, grabbed some drinks and asked the cashier if she could help us to call a cab. She gave us a number, which I tried to call but no answer (again, it was Xmas, what did we expect?).

Suddenly we saw a bus on the road. Good news, at least the bus was operating! So we walked to a nearby bus stop and waited for the next bus. It was a long wait (and again, it was Xmas, what did we expect?). The bus eventually came and took the bus back to town.

We reached our hotel feeling so tired and hungry. Fortunately I still kept the receipt from a halal Indian restaurant a few blocks away. Gave it a call to check if it was open, yes it was! Went there for dinner and back to the hotel for a really good rest…

shop shop shopping

Xmas Eve in San Francisco, shopping day for us! It would be my third outlet visit for this trip. Didn’t do much shopping at the previous two because we still had many places to go to. So today would be the day to buy everything – for ourselves and people back home who asked us to buy stuffs for them.

Fiza booked the Outlet Hop tour, which made our shopping trip really convenient. The van came to pick us up at the hotel around 9 am. The driver provided us with the outlet’s floor plan so we could strategize our shopping. As we reached Livermore Premium Outlets at 10 am, we were all set to attack!

We only had 5 hours to shop so Fiza and I split ways. By the time the van picked us up we each had bought new suitcases filled with our newly shopped goods! We returned to San Francisco very happy shoppers :-D

Back at the hotel. Yet to sort out our newly acquired possessions,

It was an excellent shopping trip by my standards. FYI my previous outlet visits were by bus so it was quite a hassle to carry the shopping goods from where bus stopped to the hotel. Today’s tour was by van, the driver dropped us off right in front of the hotel, which was a really fantastic. Thumbs up to Outlet Hop!

a visit to apple & google

I’m an Apple fan through and through. From my iPhone to my iPad to my beloved Beats wireless headphone (Apple will be taking over Beats soon), I just love the bitten fruit. I did use Android before, didn’t quite like it though. However apps wise, I’m a Google fan. Google search engine, Google maps, Youtube and of course Blogger, those are the blood of my online life.

So when Fiza mentioned San Francisco as one of our stops, I quickly Googled how to get to Apple (oh the irony :-P). Found out that we would need to take a train from San Francisco to Cupertino. Then from Cupertino train station, we would have to take a bus to 1 Infinite Loop, Apple’s home. The entire journey could easily take nearly 3 hours. What? 3 hours just to have a glimpse of Steve Job’s legacy? Err, maybe not.

In the mean time, Fiza contacted her friend Shida in Santa Rosa as she planned to meet up with her. She told Shida about how much I wanted to visit Apple headquarters. Guess what, Shida offered to pick us up from San Francisco, and drive us all the way to Cupertino! Oh such a sweet angel, I couldn’t thank her enough. Then there was more: She also offered to take us to Googleplex too! OMG! I was exhilarated with joy!!!

So that morning after breakfast Shida and her family arrived at our hotel. Hopped into their car and went to pick up Lynd at her apartment. Made a pit stop for lunch at a halal Thai restaurant (thanks Lynd for the treat), then off we went to Cupertino!

Welcome to the great fruit farm!

1 Infinite Loop. This is where geniuses are bred.

The Company Store. This is the only place in the world where you can buy genuine Apple merchandise i.e. shirts, pens, cups.

Of course I must grab some. Must!

Apple flag. California flag. USA flag.

Us with Shida and pretty little Zara wearing her brand new pink Apple hat.

We were here! Yayyy!!!

Done with Apple, we traveled to Mountain View to visit Googleplex.

See that Google map marker across the road? Almost there…

…and we finally arrived at Googleplex!

Don’t believe me? Check out the bikes!

Anyone called for security?

The yard was filled with pretty sculptures of different Android versions. Zara had so much fun playing hide and seek here.

Cute baby Yasmin came running for ice cream sandwich!

Jelly doughnut. Yum!

Have a break. Have a KitKat.

The place attracts quite a number of visitors.

One for the album :-)

Amazing colours of autumn.

The best pic I took that day.

Done with our day trip. Going back to San Francisco. Safe drive!