I started out yesterday with my friend dropping me to the airport in Seattle. The flight takes around 2 hours from Seattle to San Francisco; then it was onto a shuttle bus to the hotel. In total it made yesterday a rather boring day and so I am kicking things off in San Francisco today.
San Francisco City Pass
San Francisco has a City Pass available very similar to the one I mentioned in Seattle. The price is $69.00, including tax, so there are no surprised. Included in the pass is entrance to San Francisco Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a San Francisco Bay Cruise. Additionally, you can choose between access to the De Young Museum or Legion of Honor and Exploratorium. Plus you also get a seven-day Muni Passport for the public transport. All of this might make no sense to you, but not to worry over the next couple of days hopefully it will all become clear as visit each location.
San Francisco Aquarium
Aquariums seem to be starting to become a little bit of a theme for me in each city. It is one of those things that many of the tourism passes include so I figure I may as well make use of the pass and visit them. But to be honest, most of them are quite fun and have some interesting aspects for sure.
The San Francisco Aquarium very much reminds me of Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast back home. I think it is mostly due to the tunnels where you walk through two different large fish tanks, filled with fish, sharks, rays and other creatures.
The first tank that you come to is quite a range of tropical fish. There are lots of different and colourful fish. But the problem is they do not stay still long enough to get good photos in the dim light.
In the past, I have seen many different pictures of jellyfish and many Blue Blubber Jellyfish on the beaches around near home. However, I have never seen any jellyfish quite like these before. They are a Brown Sea Nettle Jellyfish. I can be certain that I would not want to run into one of these in the wild.
The other interesting exhibit is where you have the opportunity to touch baby sharks and rays. The stingers have been removed from these animals. They also make suggestions that the rays are only touched on the top of the wings, and the sharks behind the fin. There is also another tank which includes various Star Fish and other Sea Anemone.
The final exhibit that I visited which did not entirely fit into the theme of the Aquarium but was no less cute. Below is a Chinchilla, it almost does not look real, and the fur did almost look like what you might expect from a plush toy.
After I had finished at the Aquarium, I had some spare time before a booking I had this afternoon. I made use of this time to walk around the area of Pier 39 for a little bit. By and large, almost the whole area is there purely for the tourists with many gift shops and restaurants. I am not a big one for souvenirs and may just pick up one small thing and a couple of postcards.
Towards the end of the pier, you find one of the main free attractions in the area. There are many floating wooden pontoons here, on which you will find a varying number of Sea Lions. It is rather entertaining to watch as many barely get on the pontoons and soon fall into the water. It is worth stopping for a look, but how long you want to stay can depend on the smell.
Soon it was time to head around the waterfront a little to Pier 33 for my 2.20 pm cruise to the infamous Alcatraz Prison. While the destination is, of course, the main reason to take the cruise here, it also turned out to be my first opportunity to photograph the skyline. However, there will also be another opportunity, later on, to capture this on the San Francisco Bay Cruise.
The Island where Alcatraz Prison resides is rather difficult to miss from anywhere along the San Francisco Waterfront. The island sits just over one mile from shore and looks like a big rock sitting out in the middle of the bay.
The view of the prison from the city is very real and can be seen from many other places beyond just the waterfront. However, once you get to the prison, there are also numerous locations that you can see the city as well. I can imagine it would have been rather difficult being a prisoner here, seeing the city and it being just out of reach so to say.
When you enter the cell house, it is a harrowing experience. The cells are small with a bed, sink, toilet and table; you could not walk more than two or three paces in each direction. The pictures I think will paint the picture, but physically being here does leave its mark.
If you are visiting San Francisco, I would recommend a visit to Alcatraz. But it is something that you must plan in advance especially if you are in the city for peak tourist periods. With more than a million people visiting the island every year bookings are almost essential. That is if you want to be sure to fit in a visit.
After such a big day you would think that I might head back to the hotel and find something to eat. But instead, I decided to head along to my first every Couch Surfing Event. I joined Couch Surfing a few months ago with the idea of meeting people while travelling. So going to the event was a great opportunity to do this. There were some people at the event including some locals and some travellers as well.
Today was a long day but a very enjoyable one as well. Tomorrow I am looking to take a cruise on San Francisco Bay and also visit the Museum of Modern Art.