Friday 13th (oups! Black Friday!) August, 2010

With our new friend Kim (from Sydney, staying in the same room as us at the Green Tortoise) in tow, Emily and I headed for Pier 39, in the hopes of obtaining last minute tickets to Alcatraz. Success! Althoug they were not cheap. Excited by the idea of going to Alcatraz, but a little annoyed by the price, we headed down along the pier area, checking out the shops full of university merchandise and a fruit stand with some really unusually shaped peaches.

One thing in particular that caught our eye was the fact that seagulls here are SUPERSIZED! These guys were easily twice, if not more, the size of an Australian seagull, and their size made their determination for hot chips even more terrifying.

We were lucky enough to get free entry to the Aquarium, which was wicked sick and the three of us had a grand old time in our cardboard Aquarium “crowns”, taking photos of the fishes and sharks and other underwater animals. There was an open rockpool with very friendly sting rays that you could pat – but I wasn’t so keen on that, as I was pretty sure that’s how Steve Irwin died. No thank you.
Emily and Kim were keen, thankfully both survived, and we continued on our way.

The aquarium, it turns out, doesn’t just house fish, it also had a Hedgehog, some Chinchillas and a few other totally American animals that I’d never seen before. It also had what the sign referred to as a “Blue-Tongued Skink from Australia” – which I was quick to point out was infact a lizard, not a skink, thank you very much. But it was exciting to see something from home, as I used to have one living behind my rubbish bin in Karrinyup. Love those little suckers.

We also checked out the sealions, laying on the pier docks in the sunshine. Most of them were just chilling, however a small group of them were having a lovely time shoving eachother into the water and then trying to block the fallen sealions from rejoining the herd on the planks. They smelt funny, but were super cute.

From the pier, Emily and I parted ways with Kim, and headed off to wander the streets, and found ourselves strolling past Telegraph Hill and then through Fort Mason. We stopped to take photos of the amazing views over the water, and of a crazy shaped tree before heading into a little cafe called Greens for a quick drink.

Afterwards, we headed up towards the Union St shops (separate from Union Square), where we discovered Sephora (which stocks all major makeup brands at deliciously cheap prices) and had fun trying on outfits in LF, which was having a massive sale. (We didn’t buy anything though, as trying to find out size proved difficult.)

By this stage we were exhausted, as the thing about San Fran is that there is no such thing as a flat surface – every street is a hill, many of which are incredibly steep, and these had taken their toll on our poor little legs after the first day. (However, we were to go on to obtain buns of steel as a result of all the leg-work SF required of us, but more on that later.) We headed back to the hostel, up and down streets so steep that some even had stairs carved into them – stopping only for a quick peek into City Lights Bookstore, an institution in San Fran.

The hostel was offerring free dinner, and if it’s free, we’ll eat anything! It was pretty delicious and capped off a pretty sweet deal first day in San Francisco.