Academy of Sciences, Shopping and Fam Portraits

Wednesday 28 September 2011

We had Brekky together, then we were separating to each of our own specialities.  Ryan, Tegan and I were heading to the Academy of Sciences, whilst Sue headed to Union Square to do some shopping sans Family.

The science centre was so much better than expected, even though the planetarium was close for maintenance.  Ryan and Tegan had a lot of fun, as well as it being very educational, with volunteers talking us through various experiments and exhibits.

Indoor tidal pool, with very realistic waves


The rainforest exhibit was 4 stories high that you could walk through, and had lots of butterflies, birds and fish.



The penguin feeding was great


 The centre has a living roof, which we could only see part of on this day.

The kids got to be very hands on


Best cinema in town

We met back around 3’sh and caught up with Sue’s spolis of shopping, and we then got ready for a photo session I had organised with Flash Bullet Photography. I have admired their photography for a while now, and as we were passing through there town, I thought it would be great to get some family portraits done.  Erin and Dustin were great, and their 5 month old son, Agent, joined in on his first commercial shoot.  He was delightful, but when teething got the better of him, he headed back home with Erin.  Dustin finished off the shoot, and due to my tardiness in posting blog posts, we can show some of the shots, as they were great in turning them around so fast!  Even though they were heading off OS in a couple of days.  Thanks Guys, very much appreciated!

A few of the shots from the session

Dustin in action with Ryan and a Voice ativated light stand


We asked for a recommendation to grab some mexican, as their neighbourhood, Mission, is famed for it’s Mexican cuisine.  We were directed to Papalote, and it was way busy, excellent tasting and great value burritos!

We grabbed a taxi back to our digs, and got ourselves ready for the next leg of the journey in the morning.

Catching up with Aussies, shopping and at the Ballpark

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Today was a designated late start, so I got to catch up with the blog, and then we headed towards Fisherman’s wharf as we were catching up with others for lunch.

Stopped at Boudins Bakery for a look around and some coffee.

The sell all manner of shapes of sourdough   



This little fella rocked it on the drums



I came ever so close to buying a famed U2 guitar from a memorabilia shop, (or a Signed Nirvana album) and will either be glad for the self imposed “sleep on it” rule, or will be kicking myself in the weeks ahead…

We caught up with Rob, Jen and Liam for Lunch and heard about their travel tales.  Rob and I worked together until I left 8’ish weeks ago.  It was great to see a familiar face, and Liam at 10 month (I am thinking) was an absolute joy.

We ate at a place with a kombi out the front, which I am very partial to.


Rob and I with a frosty one


 We then set off to Union square on a street car for some shopping to the dulcet groans of Ryan.

First stop, the apple store.  I wanted some Bose headphones as they were way cheaper from the USA compared to Oz.  We purchased a couple of other items, and I was amazed at their checkout process.  It was all done on an ipod touch.

With purchases and a smile!    Cash register

Then we were off to the Levi’s Flagship store, Adidas, Gap and we noticed Ryan starting to flag from the shopping experience, so we made a plan for Sue to come back in the morning solo.

We wanted to head back on the cable car.  As we topped the crest of a hill, I spotted alcatraz, and needed to get a pic.  I stood up to hang off the side of the cable car to take my pic, forgetting that I had grabbed my backpack back from Tegan and had it on my lap.  Now my seat was facing outward, so it flew off my lap, and onto the road.  We stopped at a stop within 20 metres, so I said to Sue and to the driver behind her, don’t worry about me, will see you shortly, I will catchup.   The driver was nice enough to see me running back towards the traffic coming, to stay in place to stop cars driving and for me to make it back.  I could feel the eyes peering at me as I jogged back from those standing at the back of the car, as I put my hand up aka football player who acknowledges their mistake, whilst saying, “There’s always one, hey”

Hanging the side of the cable car


Very steep streets


We got back for so rest and freshen up time before heading off to the ball game.  We were off to see the Giants host the Rockies at AT&T Park.

It was a fantastic night.  Last time I came here, I froze, and I think I scared the family with how cold I was (and Dad doesn’t get that cold that easy, especially when I had the winter coat on until recently)

All of the family had so much fun.  It was so entertaining with the music, chants, videos and food merchants strolling up the aisles.


Tony Bennett called the “play ball” and sang a song – he is still going strong at 85!

We had great seats!


Us in the stands



The food vendors kept coming!




Woods and Wine

Monday 26 September 2011

We popped down the road to the Blue Mermaid  to have a in and out brekky if they can do it, before we are picked up in 30 minutes for our tour from Extranomical –  Redwoods and Sonoma tour .

Our tour guide, Rick was fantastic, though the strong Italian accent at the start of the tour had me wondering how much local knowledge he would have. He didn’t fail to impress with his knowledge, humour and attention to detail throughout the whole day.

We headed across the Golden Gate bridge and into the not so great vision. Again…

We traveled to the Muir woods and we had a 1.5 hours to wander around.

Arriving at the entrance to the woods

Shots of the woods and some wooden folk



We then headed off to the Sonoma wine region.

Climbing out of the woods enroute to Sonoma

We visited the Jacuzzi Winery for our first tasting.  We tasted 6 wines as well as a dessert wine served in a chocolate shot container, then you eat after sipping a little of the wine.  Fred our host taught us (well me) about the dominant nostril, and the right way to sniff wine. We left with 2 bottles of wine and some olive tapenade.

Entering the Sonoma region


Jacuzzi Winery and our bus


Fred our host


We had lunch at Sonoma square, and had a stroll around.  It was a very nice area, and we could see it would be a lovely weekend escape for the SF locals.

We headed off to another winery, which was a little lame for the amount of time we had allocated but we still tasted, bought a bottle of Rose, and waited for the bus for 40 minutes.

Rose purchased

We then headed back towards San Francisco via Saussilto.  The weather was finally nice around the bridge area so we stopped for impromptu Golden Gate pics, which was awesome due to our bad luck with the visibility to date.

Finally saw the bridge without cloud / fog


We chilled out for a bit and them we headed out for some Italian and a stroll around the fisherman’s wharf area.


First day in San Francisco

Sunday 25 September 2011

We were up early after our late night into our unit, and heading off in a taxi to Ferry Building.  Lucky we saw where it was on the way in, as we needed to direct our taxi driver on his third day in SF himself, where one of the major sites were.  Good luck with that gig!

We had an 8:40 meet up, for our 9:00 tour, some we had a quick inhale of some food from a coffee shop, and headed to the meeting point.  There was a Walk for a Cure event on, and there were people everywhere!

SF Ferry Building

We had booked the City Sites tours with stops at the following:

▪ Sausalito
▪ Golden Gate Bridge
▪ Chinatown (guided walk)
▪ Palace of Fine Arts
▪ Nob Hill
▪ Ferry/Bay Cruise
▪ Grace Cathedral
▪ Lombard Street – Downhill Walk
▪ Golden Gate Park
▪ Japanese Tea Garden
▪ De Young Museum Lookout Tower
▪ Alamo Square Park “7 Sisters”

Cable car going past (this car headed past our door more or less)

Lombard Street, the crooked bit anyway, and with Tegan and I


Golden Gate Park Art Gallery


7 Sisters


We saw the city sites, dodging and then not dodging the rain, and when then headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and we couldn’t see a thing for the fog / cloud cover.  We (the hole bus) voted not to stop for the photo opportunity on North side of the bridge, as you couldn’t see too much, so on to Sausalito.

Approach to the bridge

We had 1.5 hours to grab lunch and have a look around in our own groups, so we grabbed some Italian and to get some warmth back in the bodies.

After a stroll around, including Sue and Tegan finding a Christmas shop, we caught the Ferry back across the bay, past Alcatraz, which will be our next destination.

Still couldn’t see the bridge

After getting back to the pier, we wandered down to Pier 33 from Pier 1, thankfully the pier numbering isn’t representative of the distance between, as it would have been a long. long way otherwise.  The tour was so busy, that they had a sign out saying the next available tour was in 2 days in the afternoon.  Glad we booked ahead months ago.

We headed out to the rock, and the experience was fantastic.


The audio tour was very well done, the way previous inmates and guards gave commentary of the prison, stories and experiences whilst moving you through the cell blocks.


After returning back to the pier, we had a look at Peir 39 and the seals, as Tegan was way keen to see the seals.

We get home and we notice it is 7:20 already, so we decide to get some food in.  After much searching, we couldn’t find any suitable delivery options, so I wandered off to a local take out style Mexican to grab us some burritos.

Our apartment was very well appointed and the kids had their own space, here’s Tegan in her bed filling in her ravel journal.

Quick Surf, goodbyes and off to San Fran

Saturday September 24, 2011

Last sun up in Waikiki, and Ryan was promised a surf if he could get himself up early enough, so we had an hour in the water which was a nice way to end our trip.  We got back, and got into the packing in ernest, as we were out the door at 11:00 for the airport.

Paid our respects to the Duke for the last time

We cashed in our receipts we had collected at the ABC stores (you get a gift depending on the amount spent, and we had enough for a couple of gifts)


Last trip to the ABC store



Last walk out the entrance to our hotel


We arranged for Mark from Hawaii23 to give us a lift to the airport, and again, he was great service, and we highly recommend using him if in the area.


We got to the airport, checked (and paid $25 each) our bags with Hawaiian Airlines 22 to San Francisco.

Our plane almost a green light

Ryan killing time with a game


Where are our bags, 4 tired people here…

A little over 5 hours in the air, and 3 hours lost in time zones, had us in late local time, and we were all tired and needed to get some sleep for our city tour in the morning

Hump Day Holiday planning

Wednesday September 7, 2011

I had the luxury of spending some time researching some of our destinations that we are heading to in 10 days time.  That’s right, 10 sleeps!  We are starting to get a little excited here…

So our itinerary is:

Waikiki   17/9    –    24/9

San Francisco   24/9  –  29/9

Coastal Drive   29/9  –  2/10

Disneyland  2/10  – 5/10

I have been reading through our lonely planet guides

Street view on google maps has been fantastic to get a sense of the places we are visiting. The statue of Duke is close to where we are staying.

And reading online forums such as Trip Advisor has been invaluable to find out answers to the many questions we had.  It is at this forum that I found the blog posting of Sydney Shop Girl, whose blog I find it hard not to go to for my first reading of the day.

We went to Disneyland in December 2009, and it has certainly had an impact on the kids. I recently bought a book for Tegan on the Hidden Mickeys of DL, and she is looking at building up a score sheet for us all to see how we go.

I love this photo of Tegan from our last trip, she just looks in awe of her surroundings.

Tegan in awe at Disneyland

Today’s song of the day seems very apt, being an Aussie band (who have since changed their name to Howling Bells)  Waikiki – Here comes September

10 sleeps, can’t wait!