Day 30 San Francisco! Goodbye USA!

This morning was packing morning – dreaded for a few reasons.  Firstly because it means that our holiday is over!  Secondly because it means having to fit everything into the suitcases!  We had plenty of time so I took my time and did a better job of it than when we left Washington.  I zipped up with a smidgeon to spare!

By 10am we had cleared out the house, culling, culling, culling down to smaller and smaller piles until it was all either packed or thrown out.  I took some photos to remind me of our San Francisco home.

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Then we loaded the suitcases into the garage downstairs and headed off into the city.  What to do? We had no agenda for today.

So we started with the good old N tram into our familiar Powell Street station, then a walk up the hill to the Cable Car Museum.  I saw the funniest sight on the steepest hill.  A man was walking his dog and the dog had to pause for a No. 2.  They kept popping out and rolling down the concrete footpath in all directions!  The man very diligently chased it all down and bagged it.  Must be a daily occurrence for him.

Dog poohing on hill

The Cable Car Museum was great.  I had no idea about the process and equipment that underlay the cable cars that make it up and down the steepest hills.  A single continuous cable for each route!  It made me think twice about actually going on them!

Cable Car MuseumCable Car MuseumCable Car Museum

We then walked down through Chinatown to find the San Francisco Railway Museum.  We saw a bit more of Chinatown and I kept saying that I wanted get my last browse through there… but we kept walking and discovered an area that we hadn’t really seen before.  I had been asking hubby what the Embarcadero was.  I kept seeing it on the map and trams.  I wish we had discovered it earlier as it was the best part of San Francisco.

It started with the discovery a nice Safeway which provided lunch and a last hit of our Monopoly game stickers that we had been collecting from Pavilions in Santa Monica.  If only we had been able to find a supermarket like this over the last few days when we were looking for lunches.  The food was great.  Soup for the 12 year old and sushi for me!

We ate across the road in a park and noticed that the area seemed more open.  The apartment buildings were newer.  We then kept walking and found the Embarcadero Centre which looked like a shopping mall with restaurants outside.  We didn’t pause to look inside.  We had seen enough shopping malls.

We kept walking towards the water and found the best of the waterfront.  Beautiful restaurants and the gorgeous Ferry Building Marketplace!  How had we not found this before??  Full of boutique and gourmet produce and great eateries!  I had been asking hubby to check out what the Ferry Building had in it…  Next time we stay near here and spend more time here.

Embarcargo areaEmbarcargo areaEmbarcargo area

Caught our favourite vintage F tram back to Powell Street and saw this dude get on board.  How low can a pair of duds go??

Undies and jeans


A few times today we had checked the queue for the cable car near Powell Street as I was desperate for another ride but this time on the outside of the cable car.  While the queues had been only about a dozen people long yesterday each time I looked, I hadn’t had my pass on me (had lent it to the 12 year old so he could go on it with the hubby when they were out and about looking for the sports warehouse).  It was now nearing 3pm and we were running out of time.  Luckily this time, the queue wasn’t too bad.  I left hubby and the 12 year old minding our spot in the queue while I whipped across the road to Westfield to my by now very familiar public toilet (that rarely ever auto flushed…).  By the time I got back they had had to let people in ahead of them as they had reached the front of the queue and were now several people back waiting for the next one.  The next one arrived and we jumped on.  I grabbed the number one standing position at the front on the right side.  Hubby and the 12 year old headed around to left side and found seats on the outside and harassed me to come around to them before they lost my seat.  I didn’t want a seat though, my dream was to stand on the outside at the front just like Monk from the old TV series (well he probably didn’t do it as he was germ paranoid but I’m sure that that is where I had seen it happen and thought it looked cool).  I succumbed and went to join them and wasn’t happy.  I lasted one stop then asked our jolly driver if I could hop over the seat to resume my luckily still free number one spot.  Even better he held the cable car still while I walked around the front and jumped on.  Then I had the best ride of my life!  I had to hold on with both hands so couldn’t take many photos but it was fabulous!

On the other side, hubby and the 12 year old had other cable cars whizzing past them from the opposite direction with lots of kids hanging off and they were high fiving them.

I got just this one photo that I love with Alcatraz in the background and showing the steep street that we were about to zoom down.

Alcatraz and cable car

Hubby got this cute one of the 12 year old standing on the outer platform.

Cable Car

That ride was so worth it.  The weather was great.  The driver was fun and we loved it! Got off very satisfied.

By now it was around 3.30 and time to meet Poppy and the 17 year old in our favourite meeting spot in the Food Emporium on the lower level of Westfield, right next to the Powell Street station.  We caught the vintage F tram back for one last run.

I had a decision to make.  I hadn’t yet done my final browse through the streets of Chinatown but I knew we wanted to head off by 5 at the latest back to our suburb for dinner then luggage collection and taxi.  I ummed and ahhed and laboured over Google maps while on the tram, trying to pick the optimum spot to get off closest to Chinatown.  I missed it and we ended up back at Powell Street.  Should I still try for Chinatown?  It was 4/4.15pm by then.  While I thought about it, we walked back to Westfield and the 17 year old wasn’t there yet so I decided to make a run for it.  I also wanted to exchange one of the pashmina’s that I had bought yesterday which had an odd coloured thread in it.

So off I dashed, walking at high speed.  It wasn’t too far away but I really didn’t know exactly where the shop was that I had bought the pashmina in.  I just thought I would know it when I saw it. And sure enough I did.  It was a couple of blocks into China Town.  I approached the rather cranky lady who had served me yesterday and pointed out the flaw in the pashmina.  She cast her beady eyes over it several times, picking and pulling and obviously desperately not wanting to replace it. Eventually she succumbed and gestured me with a flick of her hand back to the racks of scarves to find a replacement (no eye contact of course).  I made it to the rack and had my hand poised over a replacement cobalt blue scarf when I heard ‘hello, hello, hello’.  She was trying to attract my attention.  I went back to the counter and she had a very satisfied look on her face.  She had managed to unpick the single red thread that was spoiling my $6US cobalt blue pashmina…  Obviously a replacement was now out of the question…  She indicated that a damp cloth and iron would soon make it as good as new.  Whatever…  I grabbed it and bolted back for the Powell Street station.  No time to look at anything else in China Town.  This was the only thing that I didn’t get to do that I would have liked to do.

Caught up with the others and hopped on the N tram for ‘home’.  Time for an early dinner.  What to have??  Hubby wanted another sports bar experience and I was OK with that.  We got off several blocks early and trawled Irving Street.  Poppy was desperate for a pie that he had not been able to find in the US (they don’t seem to be big on pies).  We had seen a pie shop in Irving Street and eventually tracked it down.  Poppy wasn’t that happy with the result but that was dinner done and dusted for him.  Hubby and I trawled endlessly criss crossing the street, checking out menus on bars and restaurants, wanting that last great sports bar experience.  Sadly the only one that the could find was the same Mexican food bar, The Taco Shop @ Underdogs that we had already eaten in.  I wasn’t up for Mexican prior to a 15 hour flight…  We settled for a drink in the bar then pizza in Irving Pizza across the road which was very ordinary but had to do.  We discovered a new toy in the shop – mobile charging devices for phones.  The marketing person was there and ‘joined’ us to explain his product – I can’t remember the name of it but you need to create an account and download an App then you can charge.  They can track you down if you take off with the charger.  Suited the 17 year old and we eventually got rid of the salesman.

Time to trek up 16th Avenue one last time and collect our luggage from the garage.  All went well until we realised that the mini bus taxi we had pre-booked was not coming…  Phoned the company and found out that it had broken down.  Not sure when they were going to let us know that…  My US cell phone was still active and on its last day of credit (great timing!).  We phoned for another mini bus taxi and were informed that they did not exist.  Apparently the one that broke down was not a mini bus either!  I don’t know how that was going to satisfy the order that we placed for 5 people plus luggage!  We had to order two!  Then great confusion with Poppy about who was going in which taxi.  At one point one of the taxis looked set to depart with just the boys on board.  I jumped in and we were away.  We had a great run to the airport and were so sad to say goodbye to San Francisco.

At the airport there was no queue at the Qantas counter whatsoever!!  It was eerily quiet.  We check in immediately and headed for the Qantas Club (Air France).  It wasn’t big but not too many people and we made ourselves comfortable with plenty of time to spare.

The flight was on time (11.30pm) and we had already pre-booked exit row seats for the adults and two seats together for the boys at the back of the plane.  It soon became obvious that the plan was only just over half full!  We ended up with a row each to stretch out in.  Well except for me as I opted to stay in the exit row in which it turned out seat arms did not move, so had to stretch out vertically rather than horizontally.

A couple of hours into the flight we had dinner and I popped a sleeping tablet.  I dropped off and woke with only 4 hours to go!!!  That has never happened.  It makes international flights so much more bearable!!  I watched a few movies and soon we were descending into Sydney.

OMG!  One of the best holidays of our life over!  It was so fabulous!!!

Squeezed the luggage into the hire car (thanks to the 17 year old), dealt with the car locking itself with the keys inside (thanks to the 12 year old who crawled in through the boot) and headed for Canberra.  Next to no jet lag thanks to that great sleep and on with Canberra life!