San Francisco; liberal, friendly, hillier than a hilly place and not everyone actually wears flowers in their hair!
Not one single step shall be run!
With Tokyo 16 weeks away, it is nice to have the novel luxury of time to allow for a proper recovery strategy post-26.2 this time round. A few days of enjoying the city, stretches/ massage stick galore and all of the food.
Tuesday 7th November 2017
I arrived in San Fransisco quite late last night after a 6 hour flight from JFK, NY, so this morning was the first chance I’d really have to see the city in daylight.
Free breakfast is always a bonus so a quick something to eat and then to Fisherman’s Wharf. Remind me never to book a race for here. The walk itself was lovely but jee whizz, it was hilly! I knew it was a hilly city but this was extreme and that is no exaggeration. Just a couple of days after the marathon when your quads are still a tad on the burny side, 26.2 miles of lactic acid floating around, walking in streets where the roads are so steep they have had to install handrails (and steps in parts…the photos do not even begin to do it justice!) made for what I’m sure must have been a bit of a comic sight as I was definitely still mimicking my best ‘robot’ style walk…especially on the downhills, ouch! Still, we got there in the end.
The Wharf was beautiful. A gorgeous sunny day made for lush blue skies to look out across the water at all of the fishing boats and yachts.
I could have sat there all day (nothing at all to do with the fact I was possibly still exhausted). I spent a great morning wandering around all of the little shops and the Maritime Museum before stopping at one of the seafood restaurants for what I hear is the classic San Fran ‘must do’ dish; a clam chowder bread bowl…so, so yummy!
In the afternoon, a slightly different route back to look around Union Square. It was the weirdest thing to see the big Christmas tree right in the middle of the ice rink, quite similar to George Square at home, but blue skies all around.
Wednesday 8th November 2017
Alcatraz Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island…possibly the most famous prison in the world.
Going on recommendations, I had booked this tour quite a bit in advance and I was so looking forward to it. So much history here from the short time that it was opened, so lots to learn about (the geek in me was excited) and folks who had visited before told me I wouldn’t be disappointed.
A short ferry ride across from Pier 39, a briefing from one of the rangers and then to pick up the audio headset. It was such an interesting visit. The conditions were, as expected, pretty grim and some of the tales about what happened here were horrendous but the tour was really well constructed with realistic audio clips and sound effects to retell the story of some of the prisons most famous inmates…Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly to name but a few.
Although the weather already wasn’t great today, Alcatraz was eerily cold, though I have a feeling that even on the nicest of days it is a place that will forever be cold. There was a deafening silence when you lifted your headphones in the middle of the cell block corridors. Lots of people walking around but not a sound to be heard. It worked out as a great day to be visiting as one of the former guards was in the gift shop signing copies of his book so it was cool to be able to chat to him and ask some questions.
The good news though… I managed to escape!
Late lunch/ early tea at a little diner on the walk back home with some of the others from the hostel and a little stop at Ghirardellis chocolate shop (only for the free samples, of course…I’m getting the hang of this backpacking malarkey).
A ride on the world famous Cable Car then a little time exploring The Castro to finish off the day.
My body felt so much better today too. One thing I am realising is that the more accustomed to running long distance you become and the more ‘marathon fit’ you get, the shorter your recovery time needs to be. Pretty much back to normal, happy days!
Thursday 9th November 2017
The plan for today…biking the bridge. The Golden Gate, thee one and only. I got a bit of a discount on bike hire from one of the local shops by booking ahead with the hostel. Shortly after breakfast off to Blazing Saddles to pick up my wheels for the day. Keen for an early start so that I would be back before dark, I was super excited for this adventure. The only thing I was slightly worried about were those mighty hills. The ups (and downs!) on two wheels, with traffic, oh and on the opposite side of the road to what I consider normal could be interesting.
The staff in the shop were all about the help; helmet, bike fitting, map, lights, and some very trendy elastic bands to stop my ‘pants’ (of the American variety) getting stuck in my pedals.
Naturally, you can’t cycle on the sidewalks but many of the streets have cycle lanes. After a slight, but of course on purpose detour (no jokes about females and directions required, thanks) in the very early stages of the route that accidentally took me in to the middle of Tenderloin (the only district of the city that you don’t want to be…way to go Kimbo!), I made it on to the glaringly obvious cycle lane on Market Street. How I missed it first time round I’ll never know, but at last, we were off.
The rest of the route was easy to follow. First up, Golden Gate Park taking in the beautiful Botanic Gardens, Windmills and scenery with a quick stop off at Ashbury Heights, a quick explore when I was nearby anyway. The park was beautiful and there was so much to see. I cycled the length of it along JFK Boulevard, a good couple of miles, and out to Ocean Beach. Unfortunately it was pretty misty so it didn’t make for the best of views, but still at least I’d made it… my first little glimpse of the Pacific Ocean!
Back the route we came and then out towards the bridge wi5h a stop at ‘Inspiration Point’ on route. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad disappointed in the weather as the fog meant you could hardly see a thing in front of you, never mind the what should be gorgeous views in the distance. It still made for a great experience though. I loved it…bucket list tick in the box!
Over the bridge and another 5K pedal in to the beautiful little village of Sausalito where you could catch the ferry back to the pier.
Just turning dark as I got back at around 5pm to drop off the bike. I think the route was around 13 miles in total, maybe a little more with my added extras.
As I had (almost) successfully navigated myself around the city on the wrong side of the road on two wheels, tonight I sorted out my booking for a car rental for the next ten days. I mean if I can do it on a bike, I can do it in a car, right?
Road trip to San Diego…we are on!
Friday 10th November 2017
A rainy morning was perfect timing for checking out and off to O’Sullivan Street to pick up my Chevy!
Thrifty car rental were as you would guess, actually fairly cheap. Their insurance however, less so! Being America, I didn’t really want to take the risk of not having it, so needs must, it had to be paid. I had also (I realise now, probably stupidly) paid extra for break down cover as when I got to the car park, I realised I’d been given an almost brand new car, that had only done about 500 miles. Chances of now needing breakdown are slim, but better to be safe than sorry I guess.
Well here goes…. the first time driving in America, on the wrong side of the road, right in the middle of the busiest part of the city…Jeanie Mac, who’s idea was this?! The strategy… just don’t think about it too much (within reason) in the hope it would be like riding the bike..it’ll be grand I’m sure.
Thanks San Fran, my visit has been short and sweet but Pacific Coast Highway 101 look out…I’m on my way!