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Cruising Alaska:
Celebrity Infinity ("Ultimate Alaska" 11-Night)

by Murray Lundberg

Exploring San Francisco

Page 1, & Trip Index

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

Sunday, May 9: Cathy and I were up early today to maximize our single day in San Francisco. This was the view from our room at the JW Marriott when I got up and began writing my blog, but as soon as it was light it was time to get moving on our city exploration!

San Francisco was born of gold, and the facade of the historic Native Sons Building is beautifully decorated.

The weather forecast has been for rain, so when it started, we weren't surprised. It got quite heavy by the time we reached the restaurant we'd chosen for breakfast.

We already wish that we had more time in San Francisco - it truly is a great city, and although neither of us is "city folk", a few days would have been great.

Lefty O'Doul's pub turned out to be an excellent choice. It's advertised as a sports bar, but it's not a sports bar in the way we know them - which simply means having a lot of big-screen TVs for watching sports. Lefty O'Doul's is loaded with historic sports photos, posters and other memorabilia - even though I'm not a sports fan, I do like the feel of this place. Breakfast, a Denver omelette for $7.95, was excellent, as was the service - our cups were always full of Starbucks coffee, geting us ready for the damp day to come.

Our first destination was Fisherman's Wharf, with cablecar being the obvious choice of transport. It costs $5 each for the one-way ride from Union Square, 2 blocks from our hotel, to a turnaround about 3 blocks from the west end of Fisherman's Wharf. We had what we considered to be a great spot to stand, beside the brakeman on the back platform, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

On the walk to the waterfront we were approached by a guy selling tickets on a HoHo sightseeing bus. Cathy blew him off but I had already decided that might be a good option to maximize our time, and within a short while we were on our way on the Golden Gate Loop, in a mostly-topless school bus.

When we return for a few days we'll have a discount card such as the Go San Francisco Card in hand.

Our tour bus at the Sausalito turn-around.

We got off the bus intending to have lunch, do some exploring and catch the same driver's bus in 2 hours. Sausalito has a lot of great galleries, but lunch was going to be a $78 event and neither of us were into that - we just wanted some nourishment so we could keep going.

Cathy found a salt water taffy shop, and bag of that provided a good sugar rush.

All of the parking lots were interesting - the yacht club one particularly so!

We got on the bus that arrived an hour after we disembarked, and that turned out to be a good choice. We could barely hear our first driver, but Steve was excellent. He took us down a road that he said buses don't use (and I can see why), getting us to this viewing area.

The USS Pampanito (SS-383), a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine that is now a museum and memorial, open for tours. On the hill behind is Coit Tower, which I wanted to see but never did get to.

Salty's at Pier 43½ was our best meal deal of our visit....

An excellent meal of fish and chips and clam chowder in a bread bowl, for $17 total for the 2 of us.

Because the weather had turned out to be so good, a Bay cruise went back on our list, and a combo offer with the aquarium got us on the Blue and Gold Fleet.

Leaving the dock, we passed right beside the Pier 39 sea lions. They started taking over the docks shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but nobody has figured out what the connection is, if any.

Alcatraz is a sad, brooding presence. Tours sell out far in advance, but it wasn't on our must-see list anyway, except as a sail-by.

This gull stayed with us a for a long time - I expect that he gets rewarded often for doing so.

This photo was created as we boarded the tour boat, using a green-screen - nicely done and to us worth the $30 it cost for the package.

Near the top of our "must'see" list was the Aquarium of the Bay, and it was excellent. It was a visit to a similar facility in Auckland, New New Zealand that made us want another look underwater - the Antarctic part of the New Zealand facility, though, puts it as #1 on the list of aquariums that I'd return to.

Some of the wonderful Victorian homes.

We knew from our research that the cablecars get very busy in the afternoon, but figured that it was still the best way to get back downtown. It was, I suppose, but the car was extremely crowded and it wasn't a good experience at all. The lineup at the main boarding area was very long so we walked a few blocks and got on the next car that came by - we were going to take a cab rather than stand in line for a half-hour or more.

Almost back to the hotel after 10½ hours of touring. We rested for a bit and then went out for a extremely good dinner at Scala's. We ordered far too much food, though, not expecting either the mussel appetizers or the ceasar to be anywhere near as large as they were!

To Cruise Days 1, 2 & 3: Sailaway and At Sea