San Francisco #3

June 21st, 2007

We were model tourists for our last day in San Francisco. Apart from another round of coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters to get us started, everything we did was straight out of the guide book: Union Square, Fishermans Wharf, Pier 39, the sea lions, Alcatraz, lunch in Little Italy, Washington Square.

Saints Peter and Paul Church overlooking Washington Square Park is quite a sight . . .

. . . but don’t let it distract you too much while you’re walking through the park — every dog in the downtown area has made a deposit here.

I snapped this in the car on our way back to the hotel . . .

. . . not realising at the time that the copper-green building in the foreground is the Sentinel Building (Columbus Tower), where Francis Ford Coppola’s production company is based and which houses his cafe on the ground floor.

After a nicely full day we flew out of San Francisco around 11pm. Twenty hours and two bottles of vodka later we were flying over the stunning snowfields of NSW and Victoria. The recent cold snap has blanketed the mountain tops and ski fields with powder. No photo, unfortunately.

Home now, and sleep.

San Francisco #2

June 18th, 2007

We started the day with breakfast at the Gobble & Squat in Haight-Ashbury, which must be the most photographed street corner in San Francisco. Who knew fried potatoes could make a good brekky! Of course we needed some good coffee after that, and we found it at Ritual Coffee Roasters cafe in the Mission area. They were roasting when we arrived in this gorgeous 5kg Probat:

We had to cross a little bridge to get on our way to the Sonoma Valley . . .

. . . where we saw the smallest police car in the world:

We saw all manner of strange things in Sonoma, including this stuff which I had a vague recollection of seeing before in the very distant past back home:

A small detour on the way home . . .

. . . followed by a nap, then dinner in Chinatown, a luxurious browse in the City Lights book store, a drink at Vesuvio and then back to the hotel.

Night.

San Francisco #1

June 17th, 2007

We flew into San Francisco airport around 10am where we met up with K who had also just arrived from L.A. and we all trooped off to hire a car for our 3 day adventure. The GPS told us how to get to our hotel, even warning of any traffic congestion ahead (there wasn’t any really). Once settled, we walked down to the Embarcadero area on the waterfront, aiming for a legendary Chinese restaurant which we soon discovered had gone out of business a couple of years ago. Those of you who know me well will realise how much this depressed me. We were all pretty starving by now but we held out until we made it back to Chinatown and ended up having a great lunch there.

Back to the hotel to rest our weary feet for a short while and then we headed down to Union Square to check out the shopping action.

I managed to leave my sunnies somewhere, which is the perfect excuse to buy a new pair!

After an early evening nap we settled on a Spanish restaurant around the corner in Belden Place. The mushrooms were superb, just as they were in Vancouver. Go fungus!

This is obviously a very religious town . . .

. . . so tomorrow we plan to drive out to Napa and/or Sonoma Valley and taste some sacramental wines.

Vancouver #2

June 14th, 2007

Every day starts here, where the velvety coffee flows a rich red brown.

Our apartment is a short walk from the entrance to Stanley Park, which is the third-largest urban park in North America (about 20% bigger than Central Park, NY). It’s quite the done thing to jog, rollerblade or cycle around and through it. Guess which one we chose.

Now this is what I call a park!

The locals here are very friendly . . .

. . . and there’s every conceivable mode of transportation . . .

Although occasionally it’s difficult working out where to climb in:

Oh, and the winter Olympics will be held here in 2010 . . .

. . . in 976 days 38 minutes and 6 seconds, to be precise.

Vancouver #1

June 12th, 2007

These are what the streets look like in Vancouver:

. . . well, not all the streets.

These are what the boats look like:

. . . well, not all the boats.

These are what the ducks look like:

. . . well, not all the ducks.

And these are what the buttons look like:

Actually all the buttons here do look pretty much like that.