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California - June 2022 - Day 3

Do you know the way to San Jose? I've been away so long. I may go wrong and lose my way

Another morning that saw me up about 6am and putting ice on my knee. I do believe it is helping as is not trying to push it too far at any one time. In other news my cough is now much improved.

After pre booking parking again, but this time taking the precaution of taking a snapshot of the parking pass on my phone – we headed off to Fisherman’s Wharf. Once parked we headed out to explore.

Now I have been here at least twice before but I could not remember anything about it. In my mind it has expanded exponentially since our last visit, with lots more shops and restaurant’s, some tacky and some more upmarket. It was an eclectic mix and made for an interesting stroll in the sunshine.

The first place we stopped was the Musee Mecanique. Neil told me I had been in here before but I have zero recollection which is strange as it contained all penny arcade machines that hold a real interest for me and even more so being Americana. I also liked the fact it was free entry and so splashed out on a whole dollar’s worth of quarters to play them. I picked the ones I found most interesting and relevant. I was not very good at any of them but enjoyed the time we spent in there.

We continued our walk and realised we had almost reached Ghirardelli Square which is the original home to the chocolate maker. It is now repurposed as upmarket shops and bars with various Ghirardelli outlets on every level. The walk to here though was almost a step too far for my knee at the moment and so I needed to rest it. It seemed only appropriate that we all had a Ghirardelli Ice Cream whilst I recuperated. Karen & Neil then went to explore the rest of the building and were soon back telling me I needed to look around with them as I would enjoy it. They were right. The building had been carefully preserved and the shops especially selected. We found a booth selling tea and coffee and thought it rude not to have one whilst sitting in the sunshine.

On the way back to the wharf I spotted a Patagonia shop and a chance for Neil & I to replace our rain jackets that had been stolen. They were not cheap but we were both concerned we might need them this evening on our planned excursion. Hopefully the travel insurance will pay out for them. I also replaced my missing rucksack.

We walked slowly along to Pier 39 which reminded me of an upmarket Old Town from Florida. It made for a pleasant stroll although it wasn’t the shops we were interested in but the Sea Lions that have voluntarily made the area next to the pier their home. At the right time of year there have been as many as 1700 of them here. This is not that time of year and there were only about 20 of them basking on the pontoons. They still made for an interesting watch for about 20 minutes in the sun.

Karen & Neil then volunteered to return to the car to pick up out sweatshirts that we knew we would need as we had booked a night tour of Alcatraz with the boat rides across. I waited people watching the comings and goings on the Pier. There were many different languages I heard being spoken including scouse. There were also far too many people who needed fashion advice from me but were obviously too frightened to ask.

Once they had re-joined me, we walked down to Pier 33 to join our tour. For reasons I didn’t understand the queue to get on the boat was deemed to be Federal controlled and as such they still have a mask mandate. Yet when I was sitting down next to the queue it wasn’t needed. We then had to wear them throughout the tour. They also announced that social distancing still applied and then totally ignored that with the queuing system. I muttered but complied as everyone should with the mask wearing and in fact everyone else also did so as well.

We got seats outside on the boat and it was a pleasant 20-minute ride across. Once disembarked we were escorted up the steep hill to the Cellhouse by a guide who was very informative.

In the cellhouse we had an audio tour which was very enjoyable especially about the escape attempts. The cells themselves were pretty much what you would expect and very grim.

At the end of the tour, we exited to the gift shop as you do. They were selling pieces of the rock for $14.95. I thought that it would be good to have. Karen disagreed strongly. In the end I realised the rocks were actually just bits of concrete from a building that had been demolished and not bits of the island itself and so it didn’t hold the same appeal to me.

As it was a night tour there were various other talks we could attend. We sat outside and listened to one about another escape attempt and then one about a prisoner who was reunited with his family.

The boat ride back was fine but the temperature had dropped considerably. Although we didn’t need the rain jackets we were grateful for the replacement sweatshirts.

We were all hungry and thought we would find somewhere to eat on the way back to the car but everywhere suitable was already closed for the night. We thought we might pass somewhere in the car but we didn’t. Even the supermarket near the apartment had closed and it was only 9.30pm so not exactly late. Instead we made do with snacks we had bought previously. Not exactly the most healthy meal but we got by.

We then tried to watch TV but gave up as the signal was coming through the Wifi and kept buffering. So we all just retired for the night.

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