I never have trouble getting through airport security, but this time my bag got selected for additional screening. No big deal - until the security officer said he needed to take items out of my bag and screen them separately because my bag was disorganized and crowded. My husband got a big kick out of this and I got really irritated.
We always joke that our main goal when traveling is to avoid getting a permanent place on the "no fly list" by losing our cool with the general frustrations of travel. As I stood at the x-ray machine watching my organized bag get disassembled, my husband stood five yards away mouthing the words, "no fly list." (We have a good time, even when we are tired and annoyed. Remember this...it was tested for our trip home.)
Regardless of how it started, we made it to San Francisco and navigated our rental car reservation disaster. We opted for the $98 rental instead of the $498 rental. This decision involved using an off-site rental car agency which was a train ride and shuttle bus ride away from the airport. We finally made it and they were overbooked with a whole lobby full of angry people. Luckily, we made it out with a car, but only after waiting in line for nearly two hours.
The long wait meant that we missed the night tour of Alcatraz. Even though we missed our Plan A - to land, get the rental car, check into the hotel and catch the last boat to Alcatraz - we still were fine. Our Plan B was to walk around Fisherman's Warf and then to make the four mile round trip walking tour from our hotel to the Ferry Building. More about the Ferry Building in a future post.
I think the photo above is the last boat of the night returning from Alcatraz. Maybe next time.
The next day was full of walking and wonderful sightseeing in San Francisco. We rode a trolley from the beginning to the end of one of the lines and then hopped off to walk around. We had breakfast in a diner and then headed to Chinatown.
In Chinatown, we enjoyed some window shopping and taking in the history described in our guidebook. Our guidebook told us about the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory. It was described as being in an alley between two streets. We found the two streets and we walked around the block at least two times. It looked like there was a line for people seeking food assistance and a few other back entrances to restaurants and stores - not a public place. When I shared this story with a friend, he remarked that typically tourists are not advised to go down alleys. He is right - this didn't seem right.
My husband said that we should just walk down the alley and see. We get halfway down the alley and a man steps out of a doorway and says, "Fortune cookie?"
We found it! We stepped inside and watched two women making fortune cookies at this machine. The workers would take a hot, freshly baked cookie that was still pliable, add a fortune, bend it just right, and drop it into a bin. This went on and on and on. I think the man leading the "tour" said that they make 1,000 in an hour. We decided to buy some fortune cookies to take with us. I grabbed a small bag and our tour guide suggested I buy the larger bag. I agreed. How could I not? Our tour guide was the cutest little man. My husband whispers, "You just got up sold!"
We continued our walk and saw some amazing things - beautiful bay views from different high points in the city, lovely flowers, and so many beautiful homes and gardens...
Gorgeous buildings with amazing architecture.
The hills in San Francisco are amazing (and tough on tourists' legs). Lombard Street is reportedly the windiest road in the United States. Wow, right?
Primroses were in so many flower beds and boxes. I really enjoyed seeing the vibrant colors and it made me long to begin planting our own flowers for the spring.
And, the Golden Gate Bridge! We made the goal to drive across the bridge and we did on our last full day. On our drive back from Sonoma, we took a different route just to catch the bridge. We learned later that we were some of the last people to pay our toll ($6) to a human toll collector, as electronic toll collection was implemented a few days after we left.