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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

USA Travaganza- San Francisco Day 2

USA Travaganza- San Francisco Day 2

Macy's- a multi storey shopping mall.
It's located at Union Square.

I wonder if this is an advert or what?

Union Square is really just a square.
It's the shops and malls around this place which makes it the top shopping destination in San Francisco.

One thing i love about summer- pretty and colourful flowers!

So very very warm!! (why am i so suay to kenah their unusual heat wave of all times?!???)

The infamous San Francisco Cable Car!
Every cable car is pulled along it's hilly track by an underground cable. The cable is gripped with a vise-like mechanism that is operated via the grip lever in the front of the car.

The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last permanently operational manually-operated cable car system, and is an icon of San Francisco, California. The San Francisco cable cars are the only moving National Historic Landmarks.

While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, their small service area and premium fares for single rides make them more of a tourist attraction.

Look at how they were manually pushed to be 'turned around' (changing directions)

The queue was really long and yippy! we got our 24 hours cable car pass for the day!

Onboard the cable car!

We were standing on the side and had to grip the bars, otherwise we would fly off and land in the middle of the road alongside the other moving vehicles!

But it's not really that scary cuz the ride was quite smooth and not very jerky.

Views from the cable car.
San Fran has many slopes.

It would be tiring walking uphill which is required most of the time when you're there, so, good walking shoes would really help a great deal.

This city is filled with cute victorian houses that looks like this.
check out the cat by the window, so cute.

We reached Fisherman's Wharf (the cable car's final destination which is about 15 mins from the place where we alighted (Union Square area)

Yellow school bus!

COmmuters using 'segway'- the 2 wheeled transporter in the picture above.
These are really cute self-balancing electric vehicles that transport people around, a very good way of touring around San Francisco :)

If i don't remember wrongly, this is Pier 45, the Port.

Seagull in the clear, cloudless sky.

Horse carriage on the road! (exactly like what i saw in Australia many years back too)

Fisherman's Wharf very famous CLAM CHOWDER IN SOUR DOUGH BREAD.
I love the freshness of the soup and i had a bite of the bread and thought it was rotten due to the sourish taste, then again, i realised it was meant to be like that because it's 'sour' dough.


The crab i've been waiting for!!!
Dungeness Crab- it's GIGANTIC!!!
Very fleshy, very fresh and filled to the brim with EGGS!

Indulging in our sumptous meal.

Look at the EGGS!!!!
I want to go back for this.
and this gigantic crab costs USD16 which i think is very cheap for such a BIG and FRESH one!!!

The whole meal cost us USD30+, not expensive especially when it's seafood, GOOD seafood i must emphasize again :D

They all seem to be screaming out to hungry stomachs!!
I really regretted not going back there a second time for this wonderful crab called Dungeness.

Last year in Osaka's Universal Studios, we took a picture of this too.

One year later, i am taking a picture with this again, but at another location at the other part of the world and with the REAL THING.

We passed by Madam Tussad's wax museum but didn't visit it cuz we already did so in Hongkong a few year back.

Inside a chocolate shop

Candy and chocolate coated apples in the same chocolate shop

Ugly bear that has tears near his eyes.
It's quite big and i had the sudden fear that it would suddenly move when i was near it.

View of Alcatraz Island from Fisherman's Wharf.

I heart flowers of all colours!

The wind was really strong and my hair was flying uncontrollably.

Sealions at Pier 39!
They were noisy and smelly but real cute!

The sea lions camped out in PIER 39's West Marina have been endearingly coined, "Sea Lebrities". The boisterous barking pinnipeds started arriving in droves, taking over the docks in January 1990 shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful herring supply, available dock space and the marina’s protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a few months. Each winter, the population can increase up to 900 sea lions, most of which are male.

i wonder what the seagull is trying to say.
maybe it's scolding the sealions for barking endlessly.

This sealion just finished its swimming session.
It's damp coat is glistening in the sun.

If i go back to this place in future, i'd definitely come here to see the sealions again.

Lamb Chop play along!
Remember Lamb Chop?

Lots of music boxes here!
We're in Pier 39 by the way.
It's the most popular pier among tourists here i believe as it's got lots of touristy shops selling toys, souvenirs and food.

California CHERRIES!!

Other fruits available too.

Big red strawberry!
It's nice but i am more of a cherry person, simply LOVE cherries!

cute 'van' selling take out Hot Dogs.
in USA they won't understand 'take away', you have to tell them 'take out' or 'to go'.
Maybe can try tellng them 'DA BAO'. *LOL*

We call this Yucky Bread, its actually pretzels.

Sorry to those who love it but we really don't know how to appreciate this.
It's really salty, all the white flakes on it is salt and i had to flick them off until lots of pigeons start to surround me.
the pretzel without salt is hard and tasteless but with salt it is.. oh gosh i can't take it lah.

in the end i gave all to the pigeons who were more than happy.

We were at Pier 33 (a 15 min walk from Pier 39) waiting for our cruise to Alcatraz!
On board the cruise and it was extremely windy and quite chilly.

Lots of people together with us for the Alcatraz evening tour, the last tour of the day.

Thats the Bay Bridge which is silver/grey in colour.
It's not the famous Golden Gate bridge which is red.
at first we thought they were the same and wonder if the colour changes during certain times of the day.

View of the Bay area and F. Wharf.

Getting very near Alcatraz.
The ferry ride was about 15-20 mins.

The waters were rather choppy, luckily it's not a long ride.

Even nearer now.

Alcatraz is also known as "the Rock". From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz was America 's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates. Today, Alcatraz is a place of contradictions, with a grim past and an enduring future as one of San Francisco 's most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions.

We've reached!
In November 1969, American Indian activists seized the island shortly before Thanksgiving and claimed it as Indian Land. This was an internationally-publicized political protest to focus attention on the plight of American Indians.

Alcatraz is actually very rich in history, it was once a millitary fortress too.

The name Alcatraz actually means "Island of the Pelicans' in Spanish as Pelicans were the very first inhabitants of the island.
Many seagulls, flowers and other wildlife can be seen there too.

still at the entrance, walking uphill to the main part of the prison.

This building you see here is actually the home of the prison wardens/guards and their families.
There were actually families and kids who actually grew up on Alcatraz.
The kids used to attend school in San Francisco Bay area and after school, they would return to Alcatraz island everyday.

This building had a movie theatre, ball room and bowling facilities in the past to cater to the needs of the families staying here.

Flowers in Alcatraz.

The Morgue where dead bodies were temporarily kept.

entering the place where prisoner's lived.

Alcatraz was the prison that housed the most notorious prisoners in the USA.

Shower area.

The prisoners showered in hot water of about 100 degrees farenheit so that they would not get used to the cold waters surrounding the island should they plan to escape.

i dunno what this is, probably the urinal or a basin for them to wash things or whatsoever.

Behind me is the place where the prisoners stood up to shower twice a week.

The audio tour set.
We could press the play button and the audio tour would start.

Michigan Ave, between cell blocks A and B.

check out the cells behind me.
the cells were numbered.

The people speaking to us in the headsets were ex officers.

as well as ex prisoners.

cut off area.

During a Sightings visit in 1992, several of the Park Service staff
confirmed the haunted history of Alcatraz. Many rangers had experienced
unexplainable crashing sounds, cell doors mysteriously closing,
unearthly screams, and intense feelings of being watched.

Recreation yard where prisoners exercise or simply sit and relax.

C-D street (C and D block cells)

The most haunted area on Alcatraz, is the "D" cell
block, or solitary, as it was often called. To most who go there, a
feeling of sudden intensity pervades the cells and corridor. Some
rangers refuse to go there alone. It is intensely cold in certain cells,
far colder than normal---especially cell 14-D. This cell is oftentimes
so cold, that wearing a jacket barely helps---even though the
surrounding area is twenty degrees warmer. It is no wonder the area was
called "The Hole."

Alcatraz library where prisoners could enrich themselves.

This is where books were shelved.

the prison cell of an inmate with his personal belongings still inside.
this inmate must have been a lover of art.

The most bloody and unsuccessful attempt by these prisoners to escape from Alcatraz.
A few inmates and guards were killed and some others wounded.

Another inmate's cell.
I think this inmate loved music.

The window that breathed freedom.
The inmates could see the bay from their cells and could hear the voices of happy people cheering and toasting each other on New Year's Day, yet they were confined in their dark and small rigid cells.
So near, but yet so far.

this inmate must have been an artist.

View from the prison cell windows.
It must have been torturous to look out the windows for the inmates.
Freedom is just across these cold waters.

where visitors came to visit the inmates.

a statue of a warden

View from the entrance of the administrative building area.
Opposite is San Fran Bay area and right below is the place where we walked up just now.

The wind was really strong and very very cold here.
Luckily we brought our jackets and sweaters along otherwise i would have been frozen.

the office

Another escape planned by some inmates.
They made dummy heads out of rubber from their art classes and stuck on real hair which the probably got from the barber's on them. these dummy heads tricked the guards that they were actually sleeping on the beds.

meanwhile, every night, they used metal spoons to dig at the crumbling walls.
that part of the wall was near the water pipes and were always wet, through the years they were actually quite soft and were crumbling which made it even easier for those inmates to dig through.

The holes they dug from their cells led them to this passageway which leads to the roof of Alcatraz where they escaped from and the were never to be seen or found even until now, there is no news about them at all.

the inmates' breakfast menu.
don't you think this is quite a spread for breakfast?

the kitchen

the dining area, the tables were removed but benches were still left here.
this area is one of the most dangerous area very proned to fights.
utensils were dangerous as they were often used as weapons.

Alcatraz prision closed down eventually.

waiting for alcatraz hospital to be opened so we could visit.

X-ray room


a random pic of what some hospital equipment

The Birdman fell sick and lived in the hospital cell

This is a picture of Alcatraz postcard.

another postcard picture.

this book contain the exact recipes the cooks in alcatraz used for the inmates' meals.

we're here again waiting for the tour narrator to give us a talk on the 'Escape of Alcatraz', very informative and gave us lots of news which outsiders do not know.

If you look carefully at the right of this picture, you will see a man in black, he's the ex warden/tour narrator who is demonstrating the opening and closing of the cell doors.

they open and close altogether at the same time, and were really loud especially when closing, there will be a loud slam of the gates and then a deafening silence after that.

Going to leave Alcatraz Island.
Walking back to the dock now.

A picture they took of us before we started the Alcatraz cruise.

the same picture with flash.

Bye bye Alcatraz.

i hope you all enjoyed the Alcatraz pictures as much as i enjoyed the tour, its really enriching and informative, it's worth reading up more on Alcatraz online if you love history like how i do.
back at Fisherman's Wharf.

a very talented artist.

these are his beautiful creations, the colours came entirely from spray paints.

street performers along F. Wharf.

sour dough bread!

Ghirardeli by night (more pics of Ghirardeli soon as we came back here again towards the end of our US trip)

we took the cable car back to our hotel and ended our night with a big slice of pizza for supper.

Next up, LAS VEGAS, the city that NEVER SLEEPS, stay tuned :)

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