Chapter 4: One last day before venturing into the unknown.
The next morning, we woke up to yet another gorgeous day in the city. We planned to ride one of the city’s famous cable cars to the equally famous Chinatown. In addition to this, we would visit the Palace of Fine Arts which was featured in many feature films. One film which springs to my memory is the 1996 film, The Rock starring Sean Connery. First, we needed a spot of breakfast and near our hotel was the Boudoin bakery. The bakery is famous for their hard and tasty sourdough loaves of bread. One of their popular food items is their tomato soup in their sourdough bread bowl. I had visited this bakery on my last visit and I fell in love. I had the bread bowl and completely devoured it. I thought I would have the same this time round as I knew this delightful bowl of happiness would keep content all the way till Seattle. While I ordered my bowl of happiness, Nalin simply ordered a boring, simple bowl of soup and a grilled cheese.
The bowl of happiness
After breakfast, we walked towards the cable car station to take the cable car all the way to Chinatown. Before heading towards the cable car we had a short walk around Fisherman's Wharf just to check out the sights.
Some of the sights we saw around Fisherman's Wharf
A streetcar that wasn't named Desire
The Pier 39 California Sealions
How the streetcars were delivered to San Francisco
A World War II Submarine
While we were waiting for the cable car, Nalin and I had looked up prices and were in for quite a surprise. We found that for a one-way ticket, the cable car would cost $7 USD per person. Compared to an Uber X or Uber Pool it was much more expensive. Nevertheless, we wanted to ride a piece of history. After a short wait, one of the historic cable cars pulled into the station and we purchased our tickets on board.
The cable car
We soon began the twenty-minute ride that would take us on the hilly streets of San Francisco. It really was quite an experience as these cable cars were going through busy intersections. It was quite a sight to be going through busy streets on a transport system that is over a hundred years old. People were also hanging off the edge of the cable cars, it was quite the sight. Soon we arrived at Chinatown and were in for quite a loud scene. We noticed that many of the residents were lighting firecrackers to celebrate Chinese New Year. It made for quite the sight and quite the sound.
The famous San Francisco Chinatown
Some nice grafiti near Chinatown
After spending some time walking around this district, we felt that it was time to head back to the hotel to do some final packing. We took an Uber back to the hotel so that we would have plenty of time to sort out our luggage. We also accommodated time to get something to eat at the nearby Ghirardelli chocolate factory store. I treated myself to a giant cookie and a piping hot cup of hot chocolate. Even after checking out of our hotel and having a hot chocolate break we still had about three hours to kill before we had to head to the airport. It was at this moment that we headed to the Palace of Fine Arts.
Some advertising which appeals to your inner "Basic Bitch"
The Ghirardelli chocolate factory
It was a short drive but it led us towards the Golden Gate. The Palace itself was quite the impressive structure and it was easy to see why it was featured in a lot of films. We had come on a day when there were a lot of tourists from China coming to visit along with a lot of couples taking photos for their wedding. Judging by the weather and the backdrop of this beautiful locale, I could see why they chose this location. We spent a good amount of time taking photos but we still had extra time to kill. I made the suggestion of driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to look at it and the city from the viewpoint. The drive was not long and eventually we arrived at the viewpoint. Thanks to the clear weather we were able to see right across the bay along with some other interesting sites. This included a classic 1950’s Cadillac convertible with 4 giant teddy bears, all in a different colour. It made for an interesting afternoon.
The Palace of Fine Arts
The Golden Gate Bridge
Soon it was time to proceed back to San Francisco International Airport. This is where we would be leaving this lovely city for the northwest locale of Seattle. Returning the rental car was a quick process and so was check-in and security. We would be taking United Airlines for the first of our many domestic flights across the United States. We arrived quite early to the terminal as we weren't sure how Security would be. We cleared everything much faster than expected so we tried to see if we could get bumped to an earlier flight that was leaving in an hour. Thankfully the very friendly United staff were on hand to assist us in transferring flights.
Since Nalin had a Star Alliance gold membership we managed to get lounge access. I treated myself to a pre-departure aperitif and I ordered my usual go to drink, an Old Fashioned. The bartender was a friendly old Asian lady who had been working in United for over fifteen years. The bartender seemed puzzled by this so she asked for my ID. She was shocked to see that I was ordering quite an elaborate and strong drink. More to the point she was more shocked that someone who just turned 21 was ordering such a drink. Her exact words were “You just turned 21! How long have you actually been drinking?” I then had to explain to her that in Singapore the drinking age is 18 and that this wasn’t my first ever old fashioned. She then revealed that she was actually from Hong Kong and that she was not a fan of Singapore. This was because she didn’t have a good time visiting Singapore on her last visit three years ago. After some fun conversation, I then found out that she couldn’t make me an old fashioned so I opted for my back-up, a medium dry Gin Martini. While waiting for the flight, I sipped on my drink and typed up my South America blog post and did a spot of aviation photography.
Martinis and blogging
Soon it was time to board the flight to Seattle and this would be a short two-hour hop. It was also the start of the unknown for me. This is because I would be venturing into unknown parts of the United States. It would be this way till we reach Chicago. I was looking forward to it, particularly the nine-hundred-mile drive across Utah and Colorado.