We left Yosemite and drove to Sam Francisco. It’s finally starting to get warm and sunny! We approached San Francisco from the north, driving past Sausalito where I’d stayed with my folks in 2013. We walked over the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a couple of miles long and took about 40 minutes. JD dropped us at the north end and picked us up at the southern end. It was a perfect day for it – blue sky and clear. Relatively often the bridge is shrouded in mist so we were pretty fortunate to get a good day.
We then headed to the hostel in the Tender Nob area (make your own jokes…). We arrived mid afternoon and had an hour or so to get ready before we headed out for dinner and a sunset cruise around the bay.
We went around Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The sunset cruise finished at around 8.30pm, and then we went to the Saloon Bar – which I think is the oldest bar in San Francisco, established in 1851. There was a band playing in there, we stayed for a couple of drinks before heading to the Kozy Kar bar. A pretty interesting club to say the least. I had a lot of fun though, drinking and dancing with our group and the camping group. We stumbled back to the hostel at about 2am…
The next day we went to Alcatraz. Our tickets were for 11am so instead of rushing around I had time to walk the couple of miles from the hostel to Pier 33.
I’ve been to Alcatraz before but went again as this was an included activity. The audio tour of the cell block is really good, and they also had an exhibition on current US prison inmates over the age of 50. There is an aging prison population in the US and it was interesting to learn about the issues that this causes. It was also interesting to see that some prisoners showed remorse and some didn’t.
I headed back to shore around 1.30 and had a sushi lunch. Now I’m back near the coast I will easy sushi again! I then went to Haight Ashbury in the afternoon. This involved taking the F streetcar to Castro and then walking up some of San Francisco’s many hills. Haight Ashbury is a pretty cool, hippy, alternative area and I wish I’d got there slightly earlier so I could spend more time there.
I then headed back to the hostel as JD was going to drive us to the Marin Headlands to watch the sunset. I’ve seen some awesome sunsets while I’ve been away and this one was definitely up there with the best of them.
The next day we left San Fran and headed south to Santa Cruz. As it was the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, the traffic was terrible. It took us quite a long time to get there. We grabbed lunch there and walked down the pier and the boardwalk before heading on south. We stopped off at Pebble Beach Golf Course before driving the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) through Big Sur and onto San Luis Obispo (SLO) for our final night together. We spotted some whales whilst driving down the PCH.
We arrived in SLO pretty late due to the Memorial Weekend traffic so we ordered in pizzas and ate around the hotel pool. The party had to move to one of our rooms though when some weird man joined us. When JD is whatsapping us and telling us to leave, you know something is up.
The next day was the last day of the northern part of the tour. We left SLO and drove to Santa Barbara. I wasn’t impressed with Santa Barbara. The beach wasn’t great and there was a lot of building work going on. For Memorial Day it was extremely quiet.
We drove a little further and I had my first In ‘n’ Out Burger for lunch – a very nice burger. We then headed to Santa Monica Pier to get our pics at the end of Route 66.
We had a couple of hours in Santa Monica before heading to the hotel to say bye to everyone. It was a really weird feeling, kinda anti-climactic, and sad as well. Joe had a flight to catch, Adam and Maica were staying elsewhere and JD was heading to see friends.
It must massively mess with your head being a tour guide. You’re with a bunch of people for 3 weeks and then suddenly you’re on your own again, before meeting another group of people for the next trip.
I’ve done a few trips like this now and JD is easily the best guide I’ve had. His breadth and depth of knowledge is astounding, his enthusiasm for everything is infectious and he is a stand-up guy. Man, if you are reading this – thank you.
I went for dinner with Liz and Sarah and then we met some of the camping group at the hotel (no camping in LA for them!).
The next day was a free day in LA before the southern part of the tour started the following day. Our new tour guide, Mike, drove us to Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach for a bit of beach time. The marine layer was making itself known though. Damn LA weather!