Day Forty Six – Hop On, Hop Off
I am up real early. I have to check my Travel Card balance. I got locked out of the account weeks ago due to too many log in tries. Now my account is sitting at $28 even though I transferred money from my Bank account a few weeks back. I have no money and the vagrancy laws are pretty tough here.
I did have enough for a coffee as I waited for the girls to get ready (see the recurring theme here)?
We walked around to Union Square to purchase a two day pass for the Hop On, Hop Off tourist buses. There are four tours included. No time limit and it is a perfect way to see this very hilly and beautiful city. Each route affords many predetermined stops so when you want to get off to explore a district you can. The tour starts across the road from the expensive and historical St Francis Hotel. The only hotel left in San Francisco where you can have all your change washed for you. The ladies of a century ago wore long white silk gloves and the last thing you wanted was to have your gloves dirtied by small change.
We went thought the district known as the ‘Tenderloin.’ During prohibition there were many speakeasies down this way. The law may have banned alcohol but the people sure did not. The local cops on this beat where of course on the payroll and because they had more money in their pockets they were able to afford a much better cut of meat for their dinner than the cops on other beats who had to settle for hamburger!
We passed City Hall, a very impressive building whose dome is taller than Washington’s. The dome is bedecked in gold leaf and sparkles in the morning sun. Our very informative and funny tour guide told us to note that there was no bird poop on the dome. He said there are two caretakers that live 24/7 in the domes roof and they are named, Grace and Kelly (a pair of Peregrine Falcons.) Also of interest is that the building is not attached to the ground. After the damage of the 1989 earthquake the building (an entire block) was lifted off the ground by four enormous cranes. The building now sits on rollers and can move four feet either way when the next big shake occurs.
We passed an exclusive male- only club by the name of the Bohemian Club. Every U.S. President has been a member of this club. If Hilary Clinton makes the White House then there will be some sort of a problem to resolve. We headed past the Dragon Gates of Chinatown (near our hotel.) They are the only authentic Chines Gates in the U.S. and feature a jade tiles on the roof.
We finished up back at Fisherman’s wharf and explored the rest of the attractions and shops. We got a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge when we joined the bus tour again. If you are up to it you can walk the bridge which borders the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. The bridge is designed to sway up to 27 feet left and right during an earthquake.
Our tour today also takes us across the famous bridge. It is hold on to your hat time as the wind up on the bridge is howling (and cold). We are heading to the beautiful bay hamlet of Sausalito. Stunning views of San Francisco and very expensive property. Lovely shops and restaurants. Robin Williams lived and died in his home just a few miles from here.
We had a late lunch of fish and chips and were back on the bus by 3 o’clock.
Our tour guide told us that there are 10 distinct micro climates in the Bay area that I can believe. On the way back into San Francisco we listened to Scott McKenzie’s iconic hippie era hit and Otis Readings ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.’ Very appropriate although we reminded that no smoking was the rule on the bus, even medical marijuana!
We caught up with Ann, Jeanette and Mike (WOW regulars) for drinks on Nob Hill at the exclusive hotel Top of the Mark. Unfortunately for me this meant another trek up another very steep hill. It was worth it though as the Bar is located on the 18th floor and the panoramic views of San Francisco are breath taking.
We all decided to have dinner at an Italian Restaurant (in Little Italy) which was cool and then walked a short distance to a dive bar (the Saloon.) It is hard to find some blues music in this town and Mr. Google said this bar was the best for the blues. Well it wasn’t. The bar made some of the dives in New Orleans look classy. It certainly didn’t have the good vibes of New Orleans bars. We stayed for a short time then said our goodbyes and headed home.