Sunday, September 03, 2006

We’re going to be “popular”!

With sore heads from the night before, we finally made it out of bed and hit 5th avenue after 12pm. After visiting the very impressive new Apple Store (Customer service wasn’t great, the San Francisco one is miles better), we headed to Broadway.

En route we noticed an increase in the number of people wearing “Brazil” t-shirts. It was Brazil Day! More on that later. We grabbed some food from a small deli and headed over to the Gershwin Theatre to see the very impressive musical Wicked! We’d paid full rate tickets, which are rare enough two days ago. It was so well worth it. The musical tells the story of the “land of oz” before Dorothy landed, revealing how the Wicked Witch became wicked. I cried throughout, whilst Vinnie awed the amazing set and lighting. Songs include “defying gravity” and “popular”. It’s a MUST!

Afterwards we strolled along 6th Avenue, which had been completely closed off to accommodate the Brazil Day carnival and show. The sights, sounds and smells where something else.

We’re heading downtown tonight, so we’ll report on that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Entry coming soon. Too much to do!!

Entry coming soon. Too much to do!! But we're going to see Wicked tomorrow!!! Can't wait!!!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Entry coming soon. Too much to do!!

Entry coming soon. Too much to do!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

We’ve bitten the big apple

After a 5 hour overnight flight, we arrived in Newark, New Jersey just after 8am Eastern Summer Time. New York City is connected to the airport by the local New Jersey rail network. Taking that and a subway we arrived at our hotel, the Hudson around 11am EST.

Check in wasn’t until 3pm, so we left our bags with the bell boy and hit the town. Walking down 5th Avenue we saw the new Abercrombie and Fitch store, which looked amazing. There was a great buzz about town as the MTV Video Music awards are being held that evening from Radio City Music hall.

We decided to see the film “World Trade Center” in AMC Cinemas on 42nd Street. It’s the new Oliver Stone film, documenting 9/11 from the viewpoint of two cops. It was okay.

Heading back towards Broadway, we picked up tickets from the “relocated” TKTS stand for that evenings performance of the new musical “The Wedding Singer”. The tickets where 50% off and where for the 8pm performance.

We headed back to the hotel to check in. By the time we left, it was after 5pm, so we took in some food before heading to the Musical. Afterwards to headed to Therapy on 52nd Street for a drink then back to the hotel for an early night.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So Long San Francisco

So today was our last day in San Francisco. The week has flown in so quickly, we’ve both really enjoyed our time here and really find it hard to leave. Our flight wasn’t until 11:45pm, so it gave us a whole day to finish off any final shopping and pack. We’d booked into the hotel until tomorrow, which was great as it meant we didn’t have to check out early.

We spent the early morning/afternoon in the Castro, where we had lunch in Harvey’s. Making our way back to Union Square, we finished our shopping/site seeing.

Packing our cases took quite some time, once completed we checked out and took the BART to the airport. Our allowance is 50lbs per bag; I was over by 16lbs with mine, so I had to unpack these into a second case which I packed. Our flight left a little late around midnight, flying overnight into New York.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We got shacked! Updated with pics!

This morning we packed up our dirty cloths and walked up into Chinatown to the nearest laundrette. It was such an experience, Vinnie made friends with a dear old Chinese woman who helped him to work out the washing machine. She even went as far as to give us washing liquid and started it. We felt very welcomed as the only other customers where Chinese seniors, most of whom couldn’t speak a word of English!

Washing done, we headed off to complete our site seeing of San Francisco. We walked throughout the financial district. I was left very emotionally distraught when I witnessed a Seagull attack a pigeon. It grabbed it by the neck, killed it with several blows to the ground, and then proceeded to eat it. I’m still in shock.

We headed down to the pier to be treated with amazing views of the Bay Bridge. We also got to sample some fresh local produce from an organic farmers market. The tomatoes where unlike anything I had ever tasted.

Taking in a route via the Transamerica building, we headed north through North Beach where we sampled some Italian/French pastry treats, we climbed the hills to telegraph tower to take in the sites of the city from the Coit Tower.

Heading west, we walked across town and up to Lombard Street, most famously known as the Crooked Street.

Returning back to Union square via China town, we eat more Thai Food and retired back to the hotel for a rest. That evening we headed to the “Stud” to take in the world famous “Trannyshack” drag show. Again we weren’t bowled over with the show. It could have been more risqué and longer. Nevertheless we enjoyed. We also managed to meet with Rentecca!

Tomorrow is our last day in San Francisco, we head to New York tomorrow night, taking in an over night flight to the City.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It’s all coming up roses

Today we visited the Golden Gate Park. It’s Americas oldest man made park, some 3 miles long and ½ mile wide. We took the 71 bus Market Street direct to the park.

We visited the botanicals gardens which where very well kept. It included many trails allowing you to get up close and personal with the plants from all over the world. We had to be careful as squirrels jumped over our heads in some of the most confined areas.

Located adjacent is the spectacular Japanese Tea Gardens. They consisted of a splendid array of Japanese gardens including a Zen one. Located in the heart is a Japanese tea room where Vin and I rested for some refreshing green tea.

Taking the 5 bus from Flosum Street, we headed back into the city for Thai food and some more shopping. We headed to the local gym to relax in the steam room before heading back to the Castro for a drink.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

We biked the bridge!

Today we dusted off our biking skills, strapped on our helmets and biked the 1mile across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The day started with breakfast down in the hotel restaurant. We noticed there was a gift card in our room for the restaurant, so we decided to try it out. Turned out it was pre-loaded with $25 of credit. Thanks so much Wes, the manager here! Breakfast was on him. Feeling very stuffed we boarded a trolley down to Fisherman’s Warf to hire our bikes from blazing saddles bike rentals. It’s about $40 per person to hire the bikes, insurance and ferry tickets back to San Francisco.

The bike route took us along downtown San Francisco through mid-morning traffic, then out via the Golden Gate Park up towards to the Bridge. The views back to the city where breathtaking as we approached the Bridge. I must admit, I was a little frightened crossing it – Vinnie was fine. There where crisis emergency phones located every 100metres for those thinking of jumping off. Frightening!

Once across, it was downhill all the way to the town of Sausalito, where we stopped for burgers and chips! The weather was the total opposite to that of the city. For once we where baking in sunshine. Looking back towards the city, you could clearly see the veil of fog swallowing the high rises. We took the Ferry back to the city and refreshed in the hotel.

That evening we walked through Chinatown, which at 10pm on Sunday was practically a ghost town. Turning into North Beach, aka little Italy, we found a lively Italian restaurant where we stuffed ourselves on pesto-chicken and drank very strong Mojitos! We finished the evening with a pint in O Reilly’s Irish bar, taking the trolly back home.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

There is such a thing as shopping therapy

Not much sight seeing done today as we hit the shops again. We didn’t rise until after 10am and didn’t get out of the hotel until after 12. Our hotel is ideally located right in the heart if San Francisco’s shopping district – so we’ve every major big label within walking distance. We hit Abercrombie (again), American Eagle, French Connection, Macys, Apple, Virgin, Shoe Pavilion, Armani Exchange, Puma and GAP to name but a few.

Macys had a great sale on shoes which Vin and I couldn’t resist.

We returned back to Panda Express for Chinese before returning to the hotel to relax.

The evening was spent back in the Castro, at the Monster Drag show in Harveys. It was their 2nd year anniversary show, lasting only a hour it was unlike any in Ireland. Nevertheless, it was great seeing Drag San Francisco style. Arriving back to the hotel around 1am, we settle into bed to build up some energy before our 30km bicycle ride tomorrow across the Golden Gate Bridge!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Video: From the Rock

From the Rock, showing the City in the background.

Captive on the Rock

After heading to bed quite early, we both awoke around 7am, so decided to get up early and head out for breakfast prior our scheduled trip to Alcatraz at 12:15. We’d booked in advance for the trip online, a must to avoid queues and common sell outs.

Vin had noted a few good diners from, one such is Dotties. The review mentioned to ignore the queue outside as the food is classic. Not taking in the advice on queuing, we headed of to Jones St.(between Geary and O'Farrell),. What, there was a queue half way up the block to get into this small city dinner in the Tenderloins District. After 30 minutes waiting in line we where escorted to our table. Inside, the diner accommodates around 30 people max. Bottomless coffee was promptly served. We both ordered from their “blue” plate, including eggs (any style), bacon, potatoes, toast and juice. The portions where massive and the food certainly lived up to the reviews. Whilst we wouldn’t rush back due to the time it took to get seated and served, it is a must experience if you’ve got the time.

Time was a little tight and queue for the bay trolley car was massive, so we took a cab to pier 41 to collect our prepaid ticket, boarded the 12:15 “Blue and Gold” fairy to Alcatraz Island. The ride was smooth enough. After disembarking, a national park ranger introduced us to the island outlining where everything is including the talk schedule for the day. The prison is located at the top of the island, some 10mins walk, up hill from the dock. The views of the bay and San Francisco are outstanding.

We have paid for the audio tour, a must. It’s self led using a digital audio device. The narrator provides complete background to the history of the island/prison whilst haunting sound effects and voices of prison guards recollecting their experiences all recreate a chilling atmosphere.

A talk entitled “escapes” was held in the main dinning hall, which we attended. We spent some three hours on the rock. Well worth it.

Back on dry land we ventured onto the famous Pier 39, much to the delight of Vin when he found the resident sea lions! So cute! Heading back into town we took the trolley car as far as China Town gate, where we meandered back to Union Square at our leisure. Another word of warning, the queues for trolleys are on average 20 minutes if boarding at the terminal!

China Town was an experience, like the Castro, it’s full on. Everything is Chinese, including bakeries (don’t try the custard tart, it ended up being scrambled egg in pastry!) to schools. The area is massive and deserves an afternoon in itself to explore in-depth.

We headed back to the hotel for some shut eye before heading out for the night to the Castro. We ended up in a great bar/night club which played videos for ALL songs where being played. The music was very pop/dance based, with a fantastic mix of modern and 90s/80s. Prices where very reasonable, with a vodka/coke costing $4 only!

We left around 1:30 and couldn’t work out the timetable for the night owl bus service. We walk home, a good 40 minute walk, but we stopped in massive Sainsbury’s around 2am for some well needed grocery shopping! Hilarious!