San Francisco - Feb 2014

As we leave Las Vegas the only down side was our flight was delayed heading to San Francisco and we had a late flight as it was. When we got to the airport the taxi I had prebooked refused to come pick us up, seems I haven't had much luck with airport taxis after what happened in new York too. Luckily we were able to get one from the rank and it was actually cheaper than the prebooked one.

The hotel is very basic and looks like it hasn't had an update since the 70s but its clean and fairly central.

First thing in the morning the alarm went off as we had an early start to Alcatraz but we were still shattered from the delay so luckily we were able to rebook for a bit later.

We got there around lunch time and found a burger type vendor, Al decided to try his first corn dog, he was happy with it but I found it vile. We were lucky with the weather as it was a beautifully sunny day after the storms that had caused the delay last night.

We did the audio tour of the prison and it was excellent, I even managed to get some burpees done in the exercise yard.

After the trip we walked along the pier stopping at the famous pier 39 where there are some lovely seaside style shops and restaurants.

I was really keen to try clam chowder so we found a little diner, it was served in a sour dough bread bun and was lush.

From there we headed on to Fisherman's wharf which has loads of bars, restaurants and shops on the sea front. We found Ghirardelli square which was the site of a huge local chocolate maker. The square is now home to quirky shops including the chocolate but it isn't made there anymore.

We had a little treat, Al of course went for ice cream, we had time to quickly go back to the hotel get changed then head out to our VIP tour of the California academy of science. The academy is open Thursday nights for adults only and the VIP tour includes a reception of free cocktails and private tour with a planetarium show. We saw the living roof garden, precious gems exhibit, the live dissection of a couple of birds which even included seeing a stuffed snipe. We then went into the rainforest, aquarium, saw an albino alligator, then saw a planetarium show. Turns out it was the same show we had seen at the science museum in new York a month earlier.

Today we have planned a visit to some of the listed sights in the tour book, first stop is to the Palace of Fine Arts where it starts to rain.

Al wants to check out a nearby crossfit box so we start walking but have to take cover part way through as the weather has got really bad. We find the box as Al wanted to buy a tshirt but unfortunately they don't have any in his size so we continue on to the Disney museum.

By this time there is no escaping the torrential rain and I'm soaked through to the skin. The Disney museum was really interesting, lots of old drawings and narrative about Walt and his family life. We even got to watch some of the really early cartoons.

We make an unscheduled stop home to get dry clothes before heading out again. Al has discovered a fantastic taxi service called uber that works out to be a really good way round the town because public transport is terrible. We go to the embarcadero ferry building market which is great, loads of independent shops mostly selling food. We stop at the imperial tea court for dim sum afternoon tea which was fantastic.

Al then buys one of the local beers and drinks it surruptiously as we walk along the pier.

Next we wanted to head back down to fisherman's wharf so jumped on the tram, we then realised you have to buy tickets prior to getting on so jumped off a stop early so we wouldn't get caught.

We find the in and out burger fast food shop that someone had recommended to us but can't say we were impressed plus we had to wait about 10/15 mins to be served, not exactly fast food. After our very average burgers we find a sweet store for dessert, no surprise Al has an ice cream, I go for jelly beans and marshmallow stick. Next door is a bar called Gold dust lounge. Its happy hour so we stop for margaritas. The bar is like an old speakeasy, an Irish man is sat in the corner playing a piano and singing to a small group of locals.

After the drink we decide to visit Ripley's believe it or not museum. It had some fascinating artifacts. We then try find somewhere for a drink and end up walking past a chain called chipotle which we have now discovered serve amazing chips and guacamole. We are deciding whether to call it a night when we walk past a bar advertising a comedy evening. We decide to give it a go then find there only about 20 people including the acts themselves. It wasn't too expensive and some of the acts were funny especially the compare.

Today is our day out on the tandem, we hire the bike and head towards the bridge. Its another beautiful sunny day and the cycle towards the bridge is gorgeous along the sea front and through a park where there are loads of families out walking and having a picnic.

Its a steep climb up to the start of the tower but nothing too difficult with the two of us plus a few stops en route to take some iconic pictures. As cycling over the golden gate bridge is a popular activity one side is for pedestrians the other cyclists so it works really well.

Given the steep climb up it means we get the opposite on the other side. Al is loving it but as I'm on the back and not feeling in control I make him keep the brakes on for most of the decent. Its then a short cycle into Sausalito where we stop for lunch. We find a cheap diner for some sandwiches then we press on into mill valley. The goal of the trip was to visit Muir woods and see the huge red wood trees. This part of the trip gets harder, the tandem is made of steel so pretty heavy and its becoming hilly in places. Once we reach mill valley we are assured that the woods are not much further. We reach the edge of the woods and find a passing local who tells us we need to go much further to see the really big trees, since we've come all this way we decide to go for it. Its another steep climb which we just about manage then we turn off onto a road which has a 20 % incline. Al is determined to make it but I last about 5 seconds before I can pedal no more and we abort and climb the hill instead. Next we find a short cut which looked liked a bike trail on the map and maybe you could on an off road bike but ours wasn't going to make it so we have to push it some more as well as climbing over trees which have collapsed in the recent storm.

The trail gets even harder and we are all out of water now so the next house we see we politely ask if we can fill up our bottles before carrying on. We see signs for the national park but no redwoods, in the end after many hill climbs we have to abort but we did get to see some fantastic views and it also means we have a full 2 mile downhill ride back down. Again I held Al back as I was bricking it on the back and by the time the descent was finished my heart was racing as if I'd had to peddle hard up it. We stopped at a gas station for snacks, I left Al outside with the bike and ended up in a totally random conversation with the shop assistant who kept saying he was gassing on me. I politely tried to explain that I didn't understand that statement which seemed to make him angry and he just kept repeating it louder until is had enough grabbed my items and quickly left the shop.

On the cycle back by the sea front we bumped into a couple of stoned old guys who had lived in San Fran their whole lives and were telling us about a guy they knew who had jumped off the bridge several times and survived. We just made it back to the ferry in time with a few minutes to spare and got some awesome views of the sunset as we sailed by the bridge.

That evening we find an amazing sushi restaurant and splash out trying some of the house specials including fatty salmon belly nigiri and mochi ice cream we then find a random cocktail bar which had a fabulous selection of drinks. We could have stayed all night but limited ourselves to a few each including one made with fresh chillies and ginger for Al.

Today is our final day but we have a relatively late flight so are able to start early and for in some more activities. First stop is the cable car museum which was really interesting to find out some history and how it works behind the scenes.

We then walked through Chinatown which was quite an experience on a Sunday morning as the locals were out to buy fresh produce from the market. We stopped in a bar where the speciality is a sandwich made famous in Philadelphia where everything is served inside the sandwich, including the fries and coleslaw. It was actually very tasty but glad we only got one to share as it was huge.

Next we walk up to coit tower to see the views is the city but when we get there it is closed for refurbishment however it's still high enough to get some great pictures of the city including the famous crooked Lombard Street.

We head there next and stand around with the many other tourists taking pictures before wandering back down to fisherman's wharf area and past Ghirardelli square where we have one of the cupcakes with milk from a little bakery and pop into the chocolate shop for more freebies.

We find an old arcade museum which had the largest collection of old slot machines, all of which are still in working order. We wander past the old ships then make one final stop to chipotle where I stock up on chips and guacamole for the flight, which then I proceed to eat whilst waiting to board the plane.

It feels like we've been here longer than a few days although I love this city and could stay much longer.