Back to SF with flowers in my hair… No not really, cos it is not summer and finding fresh flowers are kinda hard. However this time we are sure to meet more beautiful people because this time we are staying two days here!
Day 9 – Christmas in Yosemite
If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, there is no better place than Yosemite. We woke up from our cozy and lovely lodge to a gorgeous, snow-covered morning. It was postcard-perfect. In the morning after breakfast (instant cup noodles and hot chocolate from our balcony), the sun was out and the weather was great so we hiked to the famous Yosemite Falls.
After a wonderful hike and our last chance to soak up the snow and being chilled to the bone, we start our reluctant descend back to San Francisco and bid farewell to this magical place. It turned out that we left in time because we saw a whole line of traffic trying to get into Yosemite as we were going out. So, my tip for Yosemite is, book way in advance, stay overnight (expensive) but you will get to enjoy it so much more.
Since we had to return our tire chains to the Stage Stop mart in Mariposa, we tried to look for some lunch there. However, it being Christmas, there was absolutely no restaurants opened. So we ended up having some Burger King. Not fantastic but at least it was hot food!
The trip to San Francisco was a straightforward 5 hour journey, which should be pretty fast considering we are seasoned travelers after being on the road for 9 days, but it still felt like eternity. I was glad we finally passed the Bay Bridge toll into San Francisco at around 4pm. Since we were running late, we decided to quickly go to the Golden Gate Bridge to take some photos before it got too dark.
Corny right? By the way, do you know if you accidentally cross that bridge, it will cost you over US$30 in fees in a rental car? So don’t ever cross that bridge into San Francisco… but if you do, just go online or a payment booth and pay the toll of $7 in advance.
That night we checked into our boutique and historic hotel Cornell de France. I really loved the character of this hotel. The rooms are cute (small), gorgeous and beautifully decorated and very comfortable. Interestingly, the hotel entrance is really small and on a slope so all your luggage rolls down if you just park slightly uphill. Don’t make the silly mistake like us: we overshot the hotel, parked downhill and ended up dragging the three luggages up. The per-day parking is across the road. The neighbourhood does feel rather shady though and it made me feel quite uncomfortable to be on the streets at night.
Since it is Christmas, all attractions will be closed so we headed over Union Square and hoped we could at least do some shopping. BIG MISTAKE! Unlike Singapore, everything is closed on Christmas Day… except Walgreens. Thank goodness for Walgreens otherwise we would have starved to death. Oh and Thai food. Thank God for Thai food on Christmas night.
After a very non-typical Christmas dinner, we finally went back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep.
Day 10 – Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf/Alcatraz
Starting the new day after breakfast and took the famous San Francisco trolley to Main Square where we bought a one-day pass. We don’t really know the “trolley etiquette” and could have ended up with a free ride but the conductor directed us to a long queue where people were purchasing tickets. Apparently you have to buy from the office on weekends, even if it is just a one-day pass.
We ended up at a random seafood restaurant at the wharf, all those hours spent on TripAdvisor researching places to eat were thrown out the window because we were simply too distracted to check. It’s been a long 10 days! That said, the food wasn’t bad and we got to try some authentic American seafood, which were very different from our Chinese idea of seafood but still delicious.
When we finally tore ourselves away from the arcade, there were seagulls right outside squabbling over the scraps of food that people dropped out threw out, occassionally taking off in your direction, emptying their bowels AT THE SAME time. You have to be really quick to dodge the poop missiles.
We then spent another 20 minutes or so watching the One-Man-Band perform.
All of a sudden it dawned on us that Pier 33 was still REALLY far away and we were running late for our night cruise to Alcatraz Island. We made a mad dash for the pier!
Whew! Made it and with time to spare. Waiting in the queue only increased our excitement of visiting to Alcatraz. I bet the prisoners felt the same, except it was nervous energy and not excitement. We chose the night tour as we read many great reviews about it and thought it was worth a visit even if it costs more.
And finally we were in jail!
I feel Alcatraz is so special it deserves its own post so you can read in more detail about the tour here.
With that, we finally completed our tour of the USA West Coast and got ready to return to sunny Singapore. Whew! My first grown-up experience of the United States was eye-opening and I feel that there is so much more to explore! I will be back really soon and visit and explore some other parts of the USA. Meanwhile I have these goodies to last me a while!