A Travellerspoint blog

Day 13

San Francisco

semi-overcast 16 °C
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Damn the number 13. We were supposed to be heading to Carmel/Monterey today but alas no. Apparently we were the only people in this whole city who wanted to go so the trip was cancelled an hour before we were due to be picked up. Our lovely concierge John rang all the other companies and not one was heading there today either. Line those planets up!

So what to do on a rainy day? Well we went for a 8 hour walk. Our home for the next week is the Handlery Union Square Hotel which is diagonally across the road from Union Square, downtown where all the action is. As Beedo isn't good at walking up hills and Patrick gets sick of walking we decided the easiest route would be to head towards Chinatown, through to Little Italy (North Beach) and down to Pier 39 and on the waterfront.

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Last time we were here Paul and I ate lunch everyday in Chinatown. The food is amazing and the culture and people watching more so. We wandered through a lot of the food and grocer shops and Sam was amazed by all the packets of shark fins for sale. I enjoyed watching the locals shop in the poultry shop and the sugar sweets in the bakery.

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Just as we left all the aromas and colours of Chinatown behind we found ourselves in the very cool dining, delis and cafes of North Beach. We moved from the dragon styled lampposts to the Italian flag coloured posts letting you know that this was a new and very different precinct. I particularly liked the little quirky things like the black and white tiled sidewalks in front of some of the storefronts. The smell of coffee is everywhere and the delicatessen's are amazing.

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All this walking meant that when we reached Washington Square we needed to stop for a rest on a park bench and watch the elderly Chinese Ladies doing Tai Chi. I tried to get a great photo of the Saints Peter and Paul Church, but that was in vain. After the refresher we continued down the hill to Fisherman's Wharf.

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The waterfront is tourist central. There are some must sees for littlies and grown ups alike. The boys enjoyed watching the sea lions at Pier 39, Paul goes for the clam chowder that lots of vendors sell, Sam the Dreyer's ice-cream and I like watching the bakers make their wares at Boudin's (the sour dough is addictive).

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There are lots of shops to browse and attractions such as the maritime monument, etc to explore. After a few hours walking around Pier 39 and up to the SF Maritime National Historical Park looking at all the different boats, submarines, etc we found ourselves at Ghirardelli's. We spent lunch watching the America's Cup yacht Team Artemis training out on the bay. With the Ghirardelli Chocolate shop next door I was in heaven.

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To treat ourselves after all this walking we lined up at the Powell-Hyde Cable Car Turnaround for a ride home. It costs $6 per person whatever your age is, each time you hop on a cable car. So it can be expensive if you don't by a transit pass. We got on car no. 5. It was a great ride home to Union Square and a great way to end our first day in the city.

Posted by petty1912 17:29 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Day 12

Anaheim to San Francisco

rain 12 °C
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This is the first overseas holiday when I have had little hiccups in my travel arrangements and it is my first long haul journey since becoming a parent. Issues don't particularly effect us as adults, but boy can they become hurdles when you have children to care for and entertain. Today was a particularly trying day as a traveling family. We had a lunchtime flight from LA to San Francisco. The day started when we caught the Disneyland Express Shuttle from our hotel at 7.40am, therefore arriving just after 9am at LAX. At check-in we were in a large group of people who had issues with the self service ticketing kiosk and as a result had to line up separately to pay for our luggage. Once we cleared security, we were relieved to have given ourselves a 3 hour window to check in rather than the required 2 hours.

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Within an hour of boarding, our flight was cancelled but American Airlines did not make an announcement. I was reading our boarding passes and realised mine was in someone else's name. When Paul & I went the the counter we were told that the flight was cancelled and we had to proceed to customer services to try to be moved to another flight. So we lined up with everyone on our flight to fight for seats on the upcoming flights. Long story short we were re-booked on the 5.50pm flight. The relief in knowing we would be leaving was great. The hurdle was after sitting there for 3 hours, we had to wait another 6.

Sam threw himself headlong into trying to eat through the pizza menu at Sammys Pizza. The New Yorker I can highly recommend as the sausage is delicious! And thank goodness for electronic devices. Between them and the great big glass windows overlooking the runway, entertainment was covered. Mostly!

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Come 6.20pm, our flight finally taxied out to be stopped prior to the runway. Apparently the radar at SFO was on the blink and air traffic was congested. So we sat on the apron for an hour before FINALLY jetting off. Yes, there was luggage issues when we arrived at SFO, but after a wee search they were all found to be in the right city and reunited with us gratefully. I won't mention in too great a detail Pat's fatigue meltdown at the hotel at 11pm, that he wanted to go home straight away and that vacation care was way more fun than what he was having now.

So happy to be in San Francisco...and what a long day.

Posted by petty1912 19:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 11

Anahiem

sunny 16 °C
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This will be a very quick post. My wifi issues that seemed to be resolved after the wonderful staff here did their best to boost the signal in our room have returned. Spoilt rotten to have only first world problems right now.

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After 3 days at Disneyland I am letting the boys continue the last day by themselves while I head off to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. I only have to buy a few presents, but they need to be small enough and light enough for me to carry and conceal until we reach Canada.

So while Paul, Sam and Pat have list of last minute unfinished business at Disneyland and California Adventure, I am catching a shuttle bus to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. I don't know what I was thinking because it was the busiest shopping day they have had this year. The shopping was great, but the crowds were massive. My favourite haunts were the homewares such as Williams-Sonoma (where I finally brought some long sought after Star Wars cookie cutters), Crate and Barrell and Pottery Barn.

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On a interesting note today was the best weather we have had since we've been here. After the rain the skies are completely clear and you can see the snow fall on the mountains behind Los Angeles. This would be the first time I have found myself thinking that LA is quite scenic. No doubt the fog will be back soon and then it will all return to normal.

We are heading to San Francisco tomorrow for a week. Looking very much forward to returning to this wonderful city. It is my favourite place to be when away from home.

Posted by petty1912 19:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 10

Return to Disneyland

sunny 16 °C
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The weather today decidedly turned cool. Or as the local are saying, Winter has finally arrived. We had rain overnight, but the skies were blue and cloudy, so it was a good day to head out across the street.

Rather than get up early and line up with the crowds when the gates to Disneyland open at 9am, we enjoyed a sleep in and didn't get to the park until 10.30am. While the park was busy, they crowds were slightly smaller and the queues at the rides where mostly 10 -20 minutes long. This was heaven compared to our first day and we were more prepared for it too. Without rushing around we got to ride a lot of rides. The new ride today for us to try out was the Star Wars inspired Star Tours. It was a blast and a must do if your come to visit. After the ride we went into the souvenir shop which was jam packed with Star Wars merchandise. I could have stayed there all day. Patrick our Star Wars buff made a bee line for the "make your own light sabre" stand and proceeded to build his dream weapon. It was a very cool attraction and he was very pleased with himself afterwards.

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As this was our second day in the park we treated ourselves to trying out some of the more interesting types of food available (and there is lots of different things to dine in and try or takeaway) and I finally decided on my mouse ears. I must say the selection available these days is quite extensive.

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Other than the great atmosphere, Disneyland is the best place to people watch. Most uniquely because a vast majority of us are in a very playful mood. It makes for great interactions between everyone. I have noticed that California is full of Aussie holiday makers. There seems to be heaps of us wherever we venture. Some are quite well blended in and some not so.

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Today we picked a spot and waited an hour on the sidewalk to watch the evening parade. The theme this month is "A Christmas Fantasy". It was worth the wait and very spectacular.

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We had a far more enjoyable day today and the boys were really happy to get to ride on all the attractions that they wanted to without taking a large part of our day in waiting lines. They had a great time and when they are happy, everyone is happy. Still, Pat has problems walking around all day and Dad had to carry him on his shoulders for a few hours in the afternoon. As soon as it got dark which is around 5pm we headed home, which was when it also started to rain. Tomorrow the boys head back to California Adventure, while us girls head off to do some retail therapy.

Sam stayed up until 10pm to watch the nightly fireworks, but alas...nothing. The rain must have spoilt the event. He went to sleep a very disappointed little man.

Posted by petty1912 21:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 9

Universal Studio's

sunny 15 °C
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After the yucky day in LA yesterday, it was with trepidation that we traveled back to Hollywood today. But as we were going to Universal Studios, it meant that any bus hopping was out. Our shuttle driver into LA was a very chatty bloke who entertained us the whole way. We arrived at the Universal Studios just after 10am and we would leave for home at 6pm. That would be a nice long day to explore the park and studio's.

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Overnight LA had received some long awaited and well predicted rainfall. This rain kept people away as it was quiet. There was only 10-20 minute waits at rides, and foot traffic was not congested. In fact it was leisurely and comfortable. The skies were blue and we practically had the run of the place as we had purchased a "Front of Line" pass. Which meant reserved seating amongst other things.

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We started our experience by taking the Studio Tour. Compared to last time, there were some new additions to this tour. Notably the new King Kong 360° 3D ride, which was fantastic! Sam covered his eyes at the scary parts and I got the giggles.

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Lots of the famous characters were walking out and about, so there were heaps of photo opportunities for everyone.

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The boys went on almost every ride and when I didn't join them, I was trying to keep warm by drinking hot chocolate or browsing the shops. The Water World Show was great and was better than I remembered. The boys loved everything about it.

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Today was a great day. Say a 9.5 out of 10. We returned to our hotel after 7.20pm. Some of us opted out of having dinner for an early night. Sam and I stayed up to watch the Disney evening fireworks at 9.30pm, which was a fine way to end our day. A sleep in finally planned for tomorrow as we head back to Disney territory.

Posted by petty1912 22:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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