Saturday 10th December (Sue’s birthday) and I got an early start I had agreed to go on a cycle ride with Thuan and a local club. We left in the misty gloom of a foggy morning cycling down to the Chinatown Goldline Station where $1.75 got us 20 miles to Monrovia.
Here we joined a group of 11 other riders and set off along quiet roads for about 20 miles where we stopped halfway at an Armenian Bakery. One coffee and baklava (which was really nice and I am sure very healthy) later we were on our way again. This time making our way back towards the start point another 20 miles away, the roads were a lot busier now normal people had got up and out! It was a nice ride out, I got to speak to several other cyclists and the time just flew by.
Today is culture day (not some petri dish grown fungus either), we are off to the Getty Centre. After our breakfast we paid our $1.75 to travel on the Number 2 bus for 20 miles (the city is huge so you can travel a long way on public transport).
The bus travel all the way along Sunset Boulevard, with a slight detour into UCLA (university). We went through the film and music area we visited yesterday and continued on towards Beverly Hills. As you got closer the type of shop changed, a lot of designer brands now
We entered Beverly Hills, past the Beverly Hills Hotel ($645 a night), past the mansion sized houses surrounded by lovely lush tree and plant growth, remember there is a severe water shortage here (unless you are wealthy of course). There are many well know roads here we passed Rodeo Drive for all your shopping needs.
Then a short loop through the university passing lots of the frat houses with their greek letter names emblazoned across the buildings, such as Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Almost there and we entered Bel Aire where we got off. A short trek, I use the word trek as the footpath was overgrown and not pleasant to walk along. From the entrance of the Getty Centre you catch a tram to the top of the hill. As you get off the tram you enter a different world, a lovely calm relaxing place where everything is just right, a very beautiful building.
Just inside the entrance
Awake at 5.30 am again, some jam on toast then once the lights were fitted to the bicycles we were away. Many thanks to Tom and Nancy for the time we have spent with you, you have been very kind and generous.
It was only a very short ride to the station and at 6.55 am the train left on time. This train was not as luxurious as the last one, more like the normal trains back in the UK.
We had the whole of the top deck of one carriage to ourselves for half of the journey. This service is called the Surfliner, it follows the coastline back down to San Diego if you stop on it. What was really nice was seeing all the towns, beaches and cycleways we had spent 4 weeks cycling along and through from the train. There was a lot of “oooh look do you remember …….” the train even went through a number of the campgrounds we stopped at.
A train with a view
The picking continues
After a good nights sleep and a few pieces of raspberry jam on toast we took a walk out to downtown San Luis Obispo. Tom and Nancy’s house is in the perfect position for walking (I know it is very shocking to think you can walk into a town in the US).
Autumnal colours in December
It is Sunday our last full day in San Francisco, booooo. But it is cable car day today, we stopped in until just after lunch. Our lunch was vanilla ice cream and really ripe persimmons, all part of our healthy diet and lifestyle plan.
We walked down to Van Ness and California past the Symphony Hall, the Opera House and City Hall all huge imposing buildings. From here one of the three cable car routes starts, we jumped on the car only to find that it was not the $5.00 web site price, not even the $6.00 which was adverised on the huge poster on the wall next to the stop but $7.00. Guess what? we were 65 cents short, after a lot of chuntering the operator just charged us for one.
Breakfast was included at the Hotel, it was OK, the usual mixture of waffles, cakes, cereal, bagels with tea or coffee plus scrambled egg and mini sausages, it did fill you up though.
From Napa we made our way up to Calistoga (the furthest north we travelled), a lovely town square, in fact the whole of the town is worthy of a longer visit, maybe next time. On the way we passed dozens of vineyards (I think there are in the region of 500 vinyards here).
A very very late start today, actually eating lunch before we left. Today’s plan is to see some of San Francisco in all it’s illuminated glory after dark.
Our first stop was central library to print off all the tickets (theatre, train and plane) and upload all of the Garmin routes, needless to say I failed in both cases (the loose connection somewhere in the garmin getting steadily worse).
Feeling a little disheartened we moved on, walking down to the end of Market Street then taking the tram to Pier 39 (a very touristy area) here we partook of clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, one of the “things” to do in San Francisco. As a food reviewer I would give it three stars out of 6 (out of 6 avoids unintentional bias), not something we would rush to repeat.
Today (monday) we did very little (no change there then). A walk to the closest Safeway, where the moral of the story is, closest is not necessarily the best as there are some steep sections of road on the way to this store, we will not be visiting this one again!
We baked a fruit cake, then promptly ate most of it!
A flock of parrots landed on the tree and stairwell outside the apartment window. The parrots are Cherry Headed Conures which are native to Ecuador and Peru, some escaped a number of years back and have bred so an estimated 300 birds live in San Francisco.
The sky was clear this morning so we blew the dust off our cycling things and got ready to pay a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. To celebrate I fitted my new saddle, what will it be like? who knows? who even cares?
The descent down to Castro is very easy by bicycle, then we cycled the length of Market Street all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf along a mixture of cycle lanes, normal road and restricted traffic areas, and of course about a hundred sets of traffic lights. Well it feels like a hundred.
There was quite a lot of left over turkey so what else can you do but make a pie. Using homemade shortcrust pastry, fresh onions, peas, carrots in a well seasoned white sauce, lovely. We split it with Robin, it will make 2 meals for us.
Pie filling ready to fill