© 2011 jemma

Before Tina Came….

From Seattle we headed first on a short flight to Portland Oregon – over Mt St Helens – and then on a longer flight to San Francisco. We would be meeting Tina – Jess’ Mum – in a week, so we kept it a secret that we would be meeting her at the airport and found ourselves in another dimension.

We exited the BART – their metro – at Powell Street and came face to face with a million people. Having no idea where Post Street was (our hotel was on it) we asked the nearest young ladies but were interrupted by a homeless man who gave us directions and then asked us for money. 20min later we were entering The Andrews hotel and into the peace and quiet.

It turns out we had arrived in time for the Gay Pride weekend and so thousands of people had descended on San Francisco for the festival and parade. After eating lunch, we walked down the ‘wrong’ street to get to the festival at the Civic Centre, where we saw over 30 000 people, market stalls, naked people, a gigantic town hall and opera house and loads of stoned people. All in one convenient location, what an atmosphere! My favourite were the Cheer squads.

We then walked back into town and looked around the Westfield with its hundreds of shops, as well as Gap and H&M. I will never understand the need for so many of the same shop within only blocks of one another. However there were so many cheap clothes and we have so little money and space.

The next day was parade day, so we headed out and watched the parade for about an hour. It was so hot, but we made friends with the people around us and with Safety Kurt, the parade guy. It wasn’t as good – I think – as the Sydney one, but it was better that it was during the day. There were more marches and fewer floats, but the atmosphere was good.

From the parade we covered a lot of ground. We walked through Chinatown – the 2nd largest in North America – very cool, with flags and lanterns and extra nice steamed pork buns. From Chinatown we walked to Lombard Street to see the ‘Crooked Street’ and memories of Tony Hawke on the Playstation came flooding back. It is so awesome seeing it up close, windy, and full of cars and beautiful flowers. In fact all the hills seem to have come out the TV and into reality, especially Powell with the cable cars.

From there we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and along to Pier 39 a big shopping Mecca and place to be seen. There we so many people here that it was hard to move!!! It also has a Californian Sea lion colony here. They are noisy and massive!!

It was here that we saw our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, all red and gleaming in the distance, crossing the entrance of the bay. Not only did we see the bridge, but we saw Alcatraz, which is closer to shore than I thought. They both kind of looked surreal. It was truly hard to believe that we were here.

Jess began working on Monday again, so each afternoon we planned an outing. Mondays was walking to the Ferry building and then along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. Tuesday it poured so our adventures began late and included walking around the Westfield, Macys and surrounding shopping streets, than treating ourselves to dinner and Wednesday it was a walk to Japantown and Golden Gate Park.

Wednesdays was a very long walk and it took us through many vastly different parts of the city. Japan town was awesome with its shops, restaurants and beautiful park. Jess bought a squishy pink thing with red beans inside to eat and I bought snow pea crisps. Mine were the best because Jess didn’t finish his and I did. He would argue that there were no winners.

Then it was onto Alamo Park to see the painted ladies or the painted terrace houses all in a row. The yellow one was the house from Full House – well the outside anyway. Jess didn’t like the famous houses; he much preferred the surrounding houses and the various periods of architecture. I must admit, there were some nice houses, with beautiful bay windows all painted different colours.

From there we walked along the Panhandle with its gum trees towards Golden Gate Park. The park is huge and by the time we got there it was getting late, so we decided to do only a third of the park before heading home. We passed the Conservatory of Flowers, the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences, and walked through the rose garden to exit the park. Then it was a long journey home.

Thursday was Tina day. We headed out early to pick her up from the airport as a surprise. We waited for what seemed the longest time and finally Tina emerged from customs and we got to surprise her – she was very surprised! We then spent the rest of the day walking around and showing her the various places we had been i.e. The Crooked Street, Fisherman’s Wharf and downtown. A pleasant day was had, with T very tired by the end – T is not a fan of walking.

It is great however to have T here to share the next lot of adventures. Can’t wait!