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Last Day is SF Area

Today was last day of out trip.

We took the opportunity drive up to San Bruno Mountain and take a bird’s eye view over the San Francisco and surrounds.  The pacific fog cleared long enough for some decent shots of the SF downtown.

We flew out of SFX late at night.


Santa Cruz

We arrived in Santa Cruz, on the north end of the Monteray Bay in late afternoon. We wondered around a bit, shopped a bit, and took in the very California come “West Coast” feel of the place. Downtown Santa Cruz is a mixture of buildings of differing styles and ages, some  ugly and utilitarian and some, like the Palomar Inn on the Pacific Avenue, a mix of quirky  and grandiose designs.

One the whole this has been a very pleasant day.


Pigeon Point Lighthouse

After a nice lunch at Pescadero, we continued south along the coast, until we reached the our second stop – the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.   Alas the pacific fog was still with us.


Pacific Coast Drive

Today we decided to have a slow start and then do a drive from San Mateo to Santa Cruz, along the Pacific Ocean.

As soon as we crested the ridge between SF bay are and the Pacific coast, we drove into the bank of ocean fog, which provided a rather ghostly atmosphere for the drive. Our fist stop along the way as in Pescadero, where apart form very good coffee and very staty lunch we also had a look at the marshlands, which had a lot of autumn colours showing, even in the muted, fog filtered light.


Coyote Point – San Mateo

Today we slept in a bit and then visited the Coyote Point recreation park.

The park is a nice quiet space and faces out on the San Francisco Bay. it is obviously a good local relaxation and sports area. There were people joging, playing games, a wedding party or 2,  a man meditating on the rocks.

And there were seagulls. Lots of Seaguls.


San Francisco

San Francisco

Today we finally made it into downtown San Francisco. It was windy and the fog shrouded the Golden Gate bridge, just as you would

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

expect to see in October.. We wondered around a bit and explored the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city. This is where I found the Nyckelharpa player and got some of his CD’s (he has more works available on-line).

After a quick lunch at a Japanese restaurant on Pier 39, we did more tourist-ing, took the obligatory “see the city form the water” boat tour and visited some of the local shops and attractions.




Sights of San Francisco city and the bay



Sea Lions at Pier 39


Elder Sign Starfish


Alcatraz Island


Golden Gate Bridge (no fog)


San Jose


Visit to San Jose was mostly a diversion from going into San Francisco, but also and to have a look around the other cities in the SF area, and to appease Kim’s curiosity – she was here 28 years ago.

It is obvious that the Silicon Valley companies have bought great riches to San Jose, as the city is now a mix of modern and older architecture styles.

Visually, the colours of hills around the city is close to what you would expect to see around Canberra in late February – fawns, browns, grays and some olive greens.


Lunch was Mexican (of course) at a small place in Post Street. This place appears to be frequented by many locals and (as we discovered when we go inside) also a lot of the local police. Food was very nice, very delicate flavours and a plethora of sauces on the side to spice it up..

Sights of San Jose



Cathedral of St Joseph – Exterior View


Cathedral of St Joseph – South Transept


San Hose – Fountain on Plaza de Cesar Chavez


San Jose – Lights on Paseo de San Antonio


San Jose – Old and New


San Jose Street Scape


Transit Day – Toronto to San Francisco

Flight from Toronto to San Francisco

After a mere 6 hour flight on a Air Canada Airbus A319, and we are in San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and after a meander through the sprawling terminal, a shuttle train ride, and a drive, we are at out hotel in nearby San Mateo.

Australian traveller tips:

Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto.

I am impressed by how nice this airport is, as far as acoustics go. Even in the vaulted and open public spaces the people’s chatter and noise dies down and announcements can be clearly heard. Acoustics here are a top notch. It also appears the the US officials here are more relaxed and more pleasant than those we encountered in LA (LAX).

When flying from Canada to USA via Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, be prepared for a number of things:

  • If you are flying to USA allow extra time:
    • you will need to go to the check in desk to get your checked luggage tagged.
    • you will need to lug all your luggage through The USA border protection, immigration and customs
    • you will need to go through security, including full body scanners (if you’re not lucky)
    • US based airlines generally do not offer food in domestic economy class. Get some food in the terminal, or buy some on board. Prices will be high.
  • Airport WiFi is free but slow.
  • Airport restaurants have a good selection of food, and comfortable seats, but the prices are airport prices.

San Francisco International Airport (FSO)

This is a very large airport with 3 domestic and 1 international terminal.

When arriving at, departing from,  or transiting San Francisco International Airport (FSO)

  • Allow plenty of time at the airport:
    • use the airport train to get to the terminals (can take 10 to 15 minutes or so to get you to the right place).
    • switching terminals will take time. Use the airport maps and information services to work out what terminal you are flying from. Different
    • airlines fly from different terminals, with some US domestic carriers using the interantional terminal.
    • if transiting, you might need to go through security screening again…
  • If picking up a car or dropping off a renal car, you will need to go to a most outlying part of the airport where the ‘car rental centre’ is.
  • If you need to drop off a car:
    • do this the first thing to do at the airport, (the depatrures parking/drop off area is congested)
    • take your luggage and go to airport shuttle train station to get to the correct terminal.
  • If you need to pick up a car best thing to do is:
    • get your luggage together
    • use the shuttle train to get to the rental car centre.
    • doing it in this order prevents you from having to drive around the airport roads to the arrivals area, or looking for a car park.
    • The rental car centre is closer to the freeway than the terminals.