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Old 04-16-2011, 05:10 AM   #61
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Zanzibar - Loving the TR. It's your TR...keep going with it if you want! I'm always up for more pictures and blow-by-blow descriptions of SF .

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Old 04-28-2011, 05:40 AM   #62
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Day 9 - Transfer to San Francisco

Not many photos from this day... We were in airports most of the day!

We arranged a nice early transfer with Super Shuttle as we were hoping to find a post office at/near the airport to send some of our shopping home. We searched near and far without luck. And in the meantime, I discovered that my lovely organised folder with copies of all our important documents had been left at the hotel! That was easy fixed for the moment - we found a computer station and I printed off a few things from there, and phoned the Peacock Suites to get them to send it off to the hotel in San Francisco.

Our flight was delayed due to bad weather in San Francisco. Our first actual rain!

So finally we got on the plane. We were really impressed with Virgin America! They had so many extras (non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, entertainment) for a 'budget' airline. The flight was really nice and we spent most of the time checking out the scenery. As we were getting closer to San Francisco the cloud got thicker and thicker!

This is the weather that greeted us on arrival.



We got a shuttle going to the Fisherman's Wharf area and enjoyed checking out the scenery on the way. It was interesting to compare the differences between San Francisco and LA in terms of landscape and plantlife. Getting closer to our hotel we saw this building which looked significant to me...



We finally made it to our hotel - the Holiday Inn Fisherman's Wharf. I'd booked on hotwire (which I cannot recommend highly enough!). The hotel was really nice - a lot flasher than I was expecting We loved the pillows - labelled soft and firm.



It was pretty ordinary looking outside still, so we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner and had some pizzas. We should have just got pizza delivered or something because it wasn't great, and the restaurant didn't have much atmosphere either.

After dinner we went for a little walk around the block and got some drinks. It started raining on us and we made our way back to the hotel pretty quick to settle in for the night.

Next up, some wandering and an Alcatraz Tour.
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Old 04-29-2011, 07:56 PM   #63
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Day 10 - Hello San Francisco Part 1

After letting ourselves sleep in, we awoke to a lovely sunny morning in San Francisco

We still had a heap of shopping that we needed to send home before we caught any more flights, so our first mission was to find a post office. Nick found one just around the corner on his phone, so we packed all our stuff up into a couple of big bags and starting lugging it down the street. I took some pics of the hotel on the way out.





Unfortunately when we got to the post office, they explained that it was only a pick up location, and suggested one further up the road.

So we continued lugging our stuff up the hill to the next post office. It was a fairly decent hike being uphill and having big bags of stuff. On our travels we saw some people on a segway tour, and were pretty tempted to try to do a trade We also got our first glimpse of the Golden Gate.



At the next post office they didn't have any big boxes left. So they suggested another post office even further up the hill.

We continued lugging - it just seemed to be forever until we found the next post office, which was nearly at the end of Chinatown. If anyone's familiar with San Francisco, you will know that the walk from Fisherman's Wharf to the end of Chinatown is a fair distance, all uphill, and we were still lugging our big bags around with us! Luckily, this post office had the big box we needed, and we were finally able to pack up our stuff and send it off!

After all this lugging our stuff halfway around the city, I was pretty tired, grumpy and hungry (it was nearly lunchtime by that stage and we hadn't had brekky yet) So our next mission was to find somewhere we could sit down and eat. Looking at our map we saw we were pretty close to the cable car museum, so we thought we'd make our way there and surely there would be somewhere to eat on the way.

We finally found a little cafe just across the road from the cable car museum, and got some food and drinks.

After a nice rest at the cafe, we picked ourselves up again to have a look at the cable car museum.



It was quite interesting, especially seeing the actual working cables under the street.



Reading about the history of the area was quite interesting too (and I'm not generally big on history). Having said that, I've forgotten everything and couldn't tell you any historical facts now

We had a look at the gift shop and bought a few postcards. I also bought a little cable car Christmas decoration, and Nick bought a piece of cable. Then headed off towards our next destination, the crooked street.

It looked like a bit of a walk, so we were going to take a cable car. After standing at the stop for ages and ages, we gave up and decided to just walk. By the top of that hill I really wished we had waited for the cable car lol! We never saw it go past though.

Walking along the next street at the top of the hill there were some lovely views, and we saw a few cable cars going up and down.



We finally made it to the crooked street. There was a big busload of tourists there and we couldn't believe how loud they were being - yelling and carrying on. We thought it must be a bit of a burden to have to put up with that sort of behaviour if you actually lived on the street. We hurried to get onto the footpath going down the street before the loud people lol!





It was getting fairly late by then, and we figured we may as well just go straight to the ferry terminal for the Alcatraz tour. We were able to take in some of the sights along the way, and were lucky enough to catch one of the cable cars being turned at the terminus.



We were also able to grab a quick bite and drink before we got on the ferry. Then it was off to Alcatraz!
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Old 04-29-2011, 09:09 PM   #64
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Love your pictures of SF....and isn't walking along the Streets of San Francisco lugging stuff....just the BEST??


That was a long walk from FW to Chinatown!
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Old 04-29-2011, 10:22 PM   #65
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I reckon we would have done just as much if not more walking in San Francisco than at DLR! Or maybe it just felt like more with all the hills lol! Wish I'd had a pedometer...
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Old 05-02-2011, 04:56 AM   #66
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Day 10 - A Night at Alcatraz

So after our little bite to eat we boarded our ferry to Alcatraz Island. The line to board was pretty long and we had pictures taken on the way, but decided not to bother with purchasing any. Here's the ferry.



There were some nice views on the way across, but I was pretty glad I'd packed my scarf and beanie because it was freezing with the breeze from the boat!









Upon our arrival at the island we were all cautioned about overstaying our welcome, then clambered ashore. We were led up the hill in small groups, then into the main penitentiary building. We ended up in the shower room where we picked up our audio tour.



Nick and I tried to follow the audio tour for a while. The audio was quite interesting. But because we had all started at the same time, there was just this mass of people trying to view the same things at once. We didn't fancy battling the crowds all night, so we decided to just find our own way around, which was interesting enough

Our first stop was the cell block.



Some of the cells were fitted out like they would have been when they had prisoners in them (with books and personal effects). We wandered around there for a while then ended up in the admin area and outside facing the San Francisco skyline. It was quite pretty.

This building seemed to be the only in ruins on the island. It was burnt down.



Surprisingly, they had very pretty gardens!



While we were wandering outside taking photos, one of the employees told us to follow her as she was going to open up the hospital. Apparently they only do this for the night time tours. So up we went and checked it out.





Then we stuck our heads out into the exercise yard. They would have had a lovely view of the bridge if it wasn't for all the barbed wire



Then it was back through the cell blocks and past the isolation cells.



I wanted to get back outside to see the city skyline as the sun set. I managed to get a couple of pictures, but my camera's not completely set up for those sort of conditions. There were a few people around with pretty fancy looking cameras and tripods.





Then it was time to make our way back to the ferry. We stopped in at the gift shop on the way through. I actually wanted to spend a bit longer looking at the gift shop, but we'd left it a bit late and they were closing up. Nick bought a magazine type book which is pretty interesting reading.

We just had time to check out some of the other buildings further down towards the ferry, and caught the end of a doco about life on the island.

By the time we got back on the ferry it was pretty much pitch black, and absolutely freezing! We still decided to sit on the top deck though to fully appreciate the view - who knows when we'll get back to San Francisco!





When we docked we hopped off the boat and started making our way back to the hotel. We were kind of looking for somewhere to eat on the way. We quickly checked out Pier 33 in case they had something to eat, but no luck! Everything was shutting down. Nick managed to buy a magnet bottle opener, and we got some photos of the carousel.





It was starting to rain by then and we were getting pretty tired from walking around all day, so we decided to high-tail it to the hotel. We stopped at In-N-Out Burger on the way as that seemed like the quickest and easiest thing to eat. After all the rave reviews I'd heard I was pretty disappointed - it wasn't bad, it was just an average burger.

Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for another big day!
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:58 AM   #67
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Day 11 - Golden Gate Bridge and Sights

So today we decided to wander up to the Golden Gate Bridge, and take in a few other sights along the way. We had seen in one of the area maps that the Walt Disney Family Museum was in the vicinity, so we thought we'd try to get there as well.

We started off by wandering down to the foreshore, as we thought it would be more interesting scenery. We passed this on the way...



Couldn't believe how many different modes of public transport they had lol!

As we walked along the foreshore we saw this cool boat.



Then walked past a barracks of some sort and got some glimpses of our destination.



We kept walking and came across this...



Neither of us could figure out what the point to this jetty was! There was also a weird sign that said 'No volleyball north of this sign before 6pm' or something like that.

We kept walking and walking and walking... was a long walk! Close to the bottom of the bridge we stopped at a cafe for some sustainance.

On our way up the hill to the bridge footpath, we came across some more defence related things - these tunnels, and the big fort under the bridge.





We'd finally made it to the top, and started our stroll over the bridge! It was pretty noisy and windy up there, but we got some really nice views, and were lucky enough to see some ships go underneath. We only went just over halfway and then turned around.









After our walk across the bridge, we had a look at the gift shop and got some photos in the surrounding area.



Looking at the map, we made our way towards what looked like the Walt Disney Family Museum. Unfortunately we started off going the wrong way, and ended up on some dodgy roads with no footpaths. Then once we were on our way we came across a detour that was going to take an extra hour! We'd both been walking for a long time by then and were concerned that we weren't going to make it to the museum in time, so we cut across the cemetery instead. Not the ideal situation, but a bit of an unavoidable one! Took a few pics along the way.





It was pretty cool to see the horses in the park, and there were some stables too for what looked like police horses. It would have been awesome if they offered horse riding around the park!

We finally made it to the museum by about 3:30pm and were hoping that it closed later than 4pm! Unfortunately once we got there, we were told that it wasn't open at all on Tuesdays - probably something we should have looked up before walking all day to get there! I looked longingly in the windows as we made our way to the bus stop/cafe.



We were both pretty overdue for a drink and some food, so we stopped for some alcoholic beverages and some wedges. Yum! We had a nice chat to the guy at the bar, who had been to Australia years ago. Then we made our way to the bus stop. We were pretty keen on catching the bus back to the hotel rather than walking!

We were pretty tired when we got back to the hotel. I started packing as we were heading off early the next morning. Nick said he was just going to bed and setting his alarm early to pack in the morning. I thought since he would wake me up anyway, I may as well do the same thing. So we both turned in for the night.

Next up, flight to Vegas and the drive to the Grand Canyon.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:02 AM   #68
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Looks like you got the standard weather treatment in San Francisco.
Don't you just love their transport system and the various types of street cars and buses?

Love the shots of the bridge.
Pity you didn't get to visit the museum...maybe next time.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:35 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Don't you just love their transport system and the various types of street cars and buses?
Yep, so many different modes of transportation, and the only one we took was a boring old standard bus
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:57 PM   #70
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Day 12 - Goodbye San Francisco, Hello Grand Canyon!

It was a VERY early morning start for us today to get our shuttle to the airport for our 8am flight! (Who's idea was that? ) It was even earlier as we were planning to do all our packing etc in the morning. Unfortunately, the alarm didn't go off. We woke up with about 5 minutes before our shuttle was due to arrive, so basically got dressed, threw all our stuff any which way into a suitcase, and ran downstairs to check out. Our shuttle was just pulling up, so we just made it!

We made our way to the airport, checked in, and went to find something for brekky! We were a little surprised to see, after having had to take off our jackets and shoes to go through security, and having to throw out our water, once we were through security we able to buy GLASS bottles of juice to take on board! What's with that???

We nearly got on the wrong flight as at our gate there was an A and a B. The other one was going to Chicago or something, so pretty glad we didn't get on that one!

We passed some incredible scenery on the flight - massive mountains covered in snow as far as the eye could see. We just don't have ANYTHING like that in Australia. I don't usually bother to take photos from the plane, but I just couldn't help myself this time!



Coming into Vegas, you could really see just how much in the middle of the desert it is! And we were fairly amused to see pokie machines clustered in little groups around the airport. Are people really that desperate to gamble???

We caught the shuttle bus to the hire car centre (which by the way, we thought was a fantastic idea - having all the car hire in one place, separate to the airport, with a shuttle bus between the two). Car hire worked a bit differently to how it does in Australia. We sorted out all the paperwork in the office, then went up to the garage to CHOOSE our car! They just said, pick any car in this row! Then we just got in and drove off.

Nick had planned that when we had the hire car he was going to find a hardware store and pick up some tools, which are much cheaper in the US than over here. So we told the GPS to take us to Lowe's (which is much like Bunnings for my fellow Aussies).



So after much debating about exactly which drill would be best (and me getting extremely bored lol!), Nick ended up with a set of 2 drills and 2 lamp things - he plans to sell one. I was a bit concerned about how we were going to fit the tools into our suitcases (and our 32kg limit), but Nick assured me that if we packed quite carefully, he would have room. So we left Lowe's and told the GPS to take us to the Grand Canyon!

Next we decided that we were hungry, and had better stop for lunch before we got too far out of the city. We found a Subway at one of the outlying suburbs. I thought the scenery was just incredible - all these barren hills and rocks and just different shades of brown everywhere! So I took a photo of our little hire car where we stopped to get our lunch.



Our next stop was Hoover Dam. Just a quick stop to see the structure - we didn't bother to go to the information centre or anything. I can't believe this bridge is only a recent addition! It would have been a nightmare to have to drive over the bridge and deal with all the cars and tourists whenever you were going anywhere! You could also walk out on the bridge, which would have given some awesome views! But we didn't really have time if we wanted to get to the Grand Canyon before dark.







It's a shame we didn't have more time, as it would have been interesting to see how it all worked, and how it was put together. But we can always do that another time

From Hoover Dam, we pretty much just drove straight on until the Grand Canyon. We pulled over to swap drivers a couple of times. It was pretty exhausting driving when we had to concentrate so much! Just staying on our side of the road took a lot of concentration! And then all the levers and buttons were on the other side... we were pretty glad we decided to go with an automatic.

We'd just been driving and driving for ages, and both felt like we needed a bit of a break, so we stopped at a little place called Ash Fork. Once we got there we realised it actually wasn't that far to Williams, but it was a nice place to stop anyway. We pulled in at what looked like an information centre. It was actually a bit of a cross between an information centre, a little museum, and a gift shop. Turns out we were on Route 66! The lady there was lovely and we had a nice chat. It was funny that everyone on our trip who found out we were going to Grand Canyon assumed that we were just going to view it from the top. I say if you're going all that way you may as well do it properly!

We had a quick look at the museum part, and bought a couple of little souvenirs, then we were on our way again.



It wasn't far from there to the Grand Canyon. When we arrived our first impressions were that it was like a little alpine village. We managed to find our way to the Bright Angel Lodge where we were staying, but couldn't find anywhere to park! We ended up going around the block again, and Nick just pulled up in the driveway area while I asked where we could park. Even then we had difficulty and ended up in a pretty wet muddy spot with a big puddle in the middle of it!

We decided since it would be dark soon, that we should go check out the canyon first, and then check in.



They had snow a couple of days before hand, and there was still a fair amount lying around. I was thrilled, as I had been hoping to see a bit of snow up there! It was pretty chilly though!



We followed the canyon around the reception area of the lodge, and went to check in. We had to check in for the mule ride too, so we did that while we were there. We had to sign some forms, and we were both weighed. Then we were given our drink bottles and raincoats.





When we finally check into our room, I went to charge my camera, and realised that we had left our power adapter in San Francisco! That's what happens when you rush right??? I was absolutely devastated, as the batteries wouldn't last the whole mule ride We ended up checking out the gift shop at the lodge. No luck there, so we asked at reception where we might be able to find one. They suggested the general store for the village. We started walking, but soon found out there was actually a bus (which was great because it was cold and dark, and there was no foot path!). We asked at the general store, and he pointed us to the travel accessories area - and there was one there! Hurray!

By that time it was pretty late and we were both hungry, so we hopped back on the first available bus back to the lodge and went straight to the restaurant. They gave us a wait time of half an hour, which we weren't that happy with, so we went to see if the other restaurant was any better. They only had a wait time of 15 mins, and had an area where you could get drinks while you were waiting. The catch was that it was a bit more expensive than the other one.

I had a 'cactus' lemonade cocktail while we were waiting, which was very yummy! The food was delicious as well, so we thought it was worth it. The chicken and corn chowder was THE BEST!!! Will have to learn how to make it.

After dinner it was back to our room for a restful night's sleep before the big day ahead.

Next up, part 1 of our mule ride!
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:36 AM   #71
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I'm still reading your TR and enjoying all your pictures. Looks like you had a great trip!
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Old 05-14-2011, 09:52 PM   #72
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Nice pictures at the Big Concrete Wall and of the Big Hole in the Ground.
Can't wait to see you on the mule heading down towards the River.

Pity about the power adapter. I hope you didn't pay a premium for the replacement one at the store.
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Old 05-15-2011, 06:24 AM   #73
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Still enjoying your TR . I've never been to the Grand Canyon, so really interested in seeing your pics and hearing all about it.
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Old 05-15-2011, 05:10 PM   #74
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Glad people are still enjoying my TR, even though it's not Disney related anymore

Luckily the replacement power adapter wasn't too expensive. But our original one was actually a double adapter, which was quite handy, so we had to go back to just one.

I'm trying to trawl through all our mule ride photos (we have nearly 1000 just from the 2 days!) to find some outstanding ones to put up here lol!
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:06 AM   #75
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Day 13 - Over the Edge!

**Warning - the next few updates will be very photo intensive**

We were up bright and early the next day to prepare for our ride. We had been given little plastic satchels to take down with us for our overnight gear, so we packed a few things into them (basically only room for pjs and toiletries!), and put our suitcases in the car. Then off for a hearty brekky at the lodge restaurant before meeting at the mule corral at 8am.

We arrived just in time for the briefing. Everyone was standing there with their little satchels and big yellow raincoats. It was obviously the guy doing the briefing's job to try and scare everyone away lol! He told us all about how scary and hard the ride is, and anyone the least bit scared of heights or animals should not do it. I was very nearly having second thoughts by the end of the briefing and was very nervous!



After the briefing we all lined up in the corral, and a few cowboy-ish looking people eyed us all up and matched us to our mules. They really know what they're doing! After looking at us for 10 seconds they had us all matched with a perfect mule - both for our build and personality! Mine was called Cracker, and Nick's was Murph. Here's Nick being helped onto his mule by our guide.



We were instructed to have the ladies at the front of the pack, followed by the men (no idea why!), led by the guide. There were 10 guests on the ride, so 11 riders all up with the guide. We didn't really have time to get used to being on a mule, just basically out of the corral and onto the track that led down the cliff!

The track was very windy with lots of sharp hairpin bends. The mules seemed to like sticking to the very outside of the track, but I still felt much safer on a mule than having to rely on myself! Especially with all the ice on the track - I think I would have slipped on the first step and tumbled all the way down! The mules were very sure-footed and business-like. And none of them wanted to fall down the cliff either lol!



This was my mule, Cracker. He was very good to me



Every time we stopped, we had to face the mules to the outside of the track, so we were facing into the canyon. It was a little unnerving the first few times, but it didn't take long to get used to it.

As we went further down the trees got sparser, the snow and ice got thinner, and the scenery became more desert like. It also got warmer which was nice!









At one point we had to all take our mules onto a bit of an overhang and wait there for some supply mules coming up to pass us. One of the girls had quite a bit of trouble getting her mule to the overhang and the guide had to get off and lead her.





Then it was onwards ever onwards.





They call this rock formation the battleship - we thought it was pretty cool!



By that stage we were getting quite close to the bottom of the cliff, and we were all well and truly ready for a lunch and bathroom break!







When we got to the lunch stop, we all lined up at the hitching rail, and were helped down from our mules (and we needed help by that time too lol!). Then we were given our lunch packs - I couldn't eat all mine it had so much in it! It was a weird meal, made up of heaps of different sorts of snacks - fruit, crackers, jerky, oreos, nuts etc. We were there for about 20 minutes or so, and it was timed so that the mule riders coming up passed us there.









When we'd all finished our lunches and had a nice break, we were helped back onto our mules to finish the trip down!
__________________


TRIPS TAKEN
March 2011 DLR Engagement (Howard Johnson & Peacock Suites) TR - March 2012 HKDL Honeymoon (HK Disneyland Hotel) TR - Feb 2013 DLP (Hotel l'Elysee) with HKDL (Hollywood Hotel) TR

TRIPS IN PLANNING
Aug/Sep 2014 DLR Half Marathon Weekend PTR - 2015 Shanghai Disneyland Opening Day
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