Bay Watch

San Francisco tramWe didn’t get to our apartment until midnight. We rented it off a guy called Jeff through Airbnb. Much cheaper than hotels, it was in a great area and we had our own fridge and freezer. Friday morning was all about winging it. We figured the best plan was to find a tourist information centre and get a map. We knew where Alcatraz was and that was about it. We had our priorities sorted! Except we needed a map to find the tourist information centre! We decided that as the USS Hornet was near the same pier as the Exploratorium, we could visit them at the same time.

We caught a tram to the piers. Our first ever tram! We were excited. But if there was an award for Most Impatient Tram Driver, ours would’ve won. What is it with us getting on public transport of death wish drivers? He refused to go directly to the stops, instead beckoning people to come to him if he was stopped at lights, and beckoning passengers off before the stops and not letting them use the rear doors. He also used his horn a lot. Another driver who clearly hates his job. San FranciscoAnd San Francisco drivers are nuts. We’d considered hiring a car while we were there, but after seeing how everyone drove, there was no way in hell we were participating in the madness. Though apparently driving at pedestrians on designated crossings seems to be a national sport. “White man is on, arsehole!” was our most commonly used phrase. In the UK, the crossing man is green. So there were constant shouts of “green man! No, white man. Damn it!” Jaywalking is illegal in America, but most of the time it was actually safer to jaywalk when there were no cars around, as they would drive at you when you used the crossings at the legal times. We decided getting arrested wouldn’t result in our deaths, the way using the crossings would.

Ripley's Believe it or Not San Francisco

Groping Captain America at Ripley’s

We decided to look for somewhere to eat, but after walking for a while, we realised we were in the financial district. We’d passed some food vans, so Neen got food from there and we ate our crisps. Though we ended up queuing for ages in the sun for the food van, as it was very popular.


This took one man 40 years to make.

We made our way to the Exploratorium and went in. It was very much like Techniquest. We had a go on a few things but were conscious of the fact the USS Hornet closed at 4 and we didn’t get into the Exploratorium ‘til 1:30. We would need at least an hour to explore the haunted war ship. We hadn’t expected San Francisco to be as large as it was. It’s bigger than London, so most of our time would be spent travelling, which we hadn’t factored in. We left at 2:45 and headed to pier 3. The ship wasn’t there. So we returned to the Exploratorium and asked them for a map. We bought one for $6 and asked the staff about the Hornet. They thought it was on pier 45, so we caught a tram there. No Hornet. Turns out, it’s not even in San Francisco, like the internet claims. It’s across the bay.

Ripley's Believe it or Not San Francisco

Iron Twins at Ripley’s

We went into MacDonald’s to steal their Wi-Fi and ordered fries so we could stay. The heat in Vegas killed our appetites and we’d survived on 2 bowls of cereals, one bag of crisps and one shortbread biscuit, all day, for four days. It was cooler here so we figured we should probably eat. The fries were alright, but salty. This is the first time we’d ever eaten in a MacDonald’s. There was a horrifying moment when the cleaner mopped the floor in the unisex toilets (which stank worse than a politician’s election speech) then emerged and dragged that same mop across the restaurant floor. We suddenly regretted the fries, and our previous boycotting of MacDonald’s seemed even more reasonable. The Dungeons and Madame Tussauds are right by pier 45, so we decided to go there. We’d left our tickets in the apartment, as we’d planned to go there on Sunday, so we tried to find the tickets in our email. Our email didn’t go back far enough so Lynx checked the deleted folder then synched the messages to go back a month. Twenty minutes later, it still hadn’t synched. So we’d achieved bugger all.

Ripley's Believe it or not San Francisco

cannibal jewellery

In the end we went to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium. It was on our list anyway and it was either that, or waste the entire day. We’d rather waste money than time. Money can be recuperated. It was really cool in there. And for once, the oddest things inside, weren’t us! They had models made out of car tires, car parts and matchsticks, as well as an actual shrunken torso and a video explaining how tribes do the shrunken heads, which was fascinating. Did the first person to do it think ‘you know what would be cool? Killing my enemy then shrinking his head and wearing it as a victory pendant?’ How did they work out how to do that? They didn’t have libraries and Google back then. Maybe we should start a collection from our worldly travels and open our own museum. Let’s see, we have the rocks from the Grand Canyon and…pin badges. Hey, it’s a start!

Ripley's Believe it or Not San Francisco

Shrunken head

Neen had found a ghost walk that started at 7 outside the Queen Anne Hotel, the San Francisco Ghost Walk. We left Ripley’s at 6:30 so jumped in a taxi. We wouldn’t have made it on a tram. We got there with fifteen minutes to spare and wandered into the hotel. It was freezing! We’d brought jumpers with us, but hadn’t bothered with our hoodies or jackets, as we didn’t know we’d be doing the ghost walk, or that it would be so cold. San Francisco is a lot like our summers, so it feels like home. Much better temperature than Vegas. We stayed in the hotel until the ghost walk started, so we’d have less time to freeze. We also interviewed one of the workers about the ghosts, but he hadn’t experienced anything. He hadn’t been working there long. Finding the newest member of staff and asking about ghosts is a real talent of ours. He knew someone who had experienced something though.

Ripley's Believe it or Not San Francisco

us with the world’s tallest man

Queen Anne Hotel

The Queen Anne Hotel

The Queen Anne used to be a girls school, opened by Mary Lake, and she’s rumoured to haunt it, especially room 410. We were allowed to investigate the hotel before starting the ghost walk outside. Sadly room 410 was occupied. We didn’t think the guests would appreciate us bursting in with our cameras and conducting a vigil as they tried to enjoy their stay.

Queen Anne hotel

Inside the Queen Anne

Before we headed outside, the guide, Jim Fassbinder, asked the hotel if they had anything in the lost and found and got Neen a hoodie as he was worried how cold we would be. He then went to his car two blocks away and got a massive varsity jacket and silver anorak. Neen had the jacket, Cat the hoodie, Lynx the anorak. We started as the most stylish people on the walk and by the time we got outside, we should’ve been arrested by the fashion police. But we were warm and very grateful to Jim. How many guides would do that?

Queen Anne hotel

the haunted room

The walk was brilliant. Jim was very entertaining and funny. It’s one of the best walks we’ve been on. We walked around Pacific Heights, which is a nice, residential area and has a lot of haunted places, some of which were on our list, such as the house once owned by Mary Ellen Pleasance, the Voodoo Queen. It finished at ten then we stayed behind, as he wanted to tell us some stories about Alcatraz. He’s friends with some of the rangers there, so he was telling us the places to lose the tour. That’s the kind of advice we need! We walked back to our apartment. Once the wind had died down, it wasn’t too cold. So the evening wasn’t a waste, which made us feel better. And we had a plan for Saturday – the Winchester Mystery House.Queen Anne hotel


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