A Travellerspoint blog

Escape to Alcatraz

Conference 2010

sunny 30 °C

Ah well the conference was well and truly over now and a few of us had the Friday off. So what did we do? We excaped being regimented and cooped up all week to Alcatraz, a former high security state penitentiary. Firts of all we had breakfast at Lori's which was just as you imagine an American diner to be like. Inside was an old Ford Edsel, so one of my companions snapped a picture of her travelling rubber ducks (who have their own Facebook page) sitting on the bonnet (or hood as they say here). We then caught a cable car from Union Square all the way down to Fisherman's Wharf. As thwere was no room inside we clung on the the rails with one hand whilst paying the $5 fare and taking photos with the other. It was an exhilarating ride up and over the hills of San Francisco.

We then caught our ferry to Alcatraz. The fog was rolling in off the Pacific, so we did not see the Golden Gate bridge and after a while did not see much of anything. We strolled around the island, firstly listening to a guide regaling us with escape stories and then discovering the place for oursleves. It felt 20 degrees C cooler than the mainland and we wished we'd brought jumpers. There are many places you cannot go because the place is crumbling fast. For me the exercise yard was the most evocative place, more so than the tiny cells and the sound of the doors being slammed shut. From the top of the bleachers in the yard the inmates could see out into the free world.

Having bought some prison soap it was time to make our escape and have lunch. We went back to Tuedsday's lunch spot at Pier 3, which brought the trip into a nice loop before we headed back to the hotel and our homeward flight.

Posted by Dirkly 06:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Outside it's America

Conference 2010

sunny 30 °C

Wednesady was the first day proper of our 2 day conference. Spent almost 15 hours non-stop in conference venue, with just a couple of brief breaks to walk outside.

"Outside it's America, outside it's America" U2. Inside it's hard work.

Thursday followed a similar pattern, until we finished late afternoon. I went for a walk up the hills, following the cable car tracks. Got to top of Nob Hill and then went to the Cable Car Barn & Museum. Fascinating place where you can see and hear (and smell) the cables being wound cotinuously running cables for the 4 lines.

Then went out in a group and ate in an Italian restuarant and had salmon with pasta.

Posted by Dirkly 08:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

San Francisco

Conference 2010

sunny 30 °C

First full day in San Francisco was Tuesday. The Taj Compton Place is well positioned for walking around, just a couple of blocks from Union Square. After a morning sorting out conference logistics, the 4 of us in the advance party walked down to Pier 1. We had lunch at the Plant Cafe (www.theplantcafe.com) on Pier 3. I had a chicken ciabata with a mango smoothy, very nice too. When I say piers these are not like we have in Southend, although Pier 7 was reassuringly wooden decked and metal framed, replete with menacing looking seagulls and locals fishing whilst a huge container ship passed through the Bay. It was very warm and good to see something of the steep hills that dominate.

The rest of the conference was arriving by now and we had our evening reception. After that 10 of us (all from the UK) went to China Town a short walk away and ate in a restaurant recommended by the hotel, the name of which I can't remember. We ordered the banquest for 10 at $330 or so and after soup had a numerous dishes placed in the centre of the table on a turntable, which included crabs, fish, duck, chicken, beef and vegetables. It was too much for those who had just arrived, saying they did not know what meal this was and if they were really hungry when faced with such choice. We did not make huge inroads into the food as a result.

Posted by Dirkly 06:18 Archived in USA Tagged business Comments (0)

San Francisco

Conference 2011

sunny 27 °C

Hi from San Francisco. After 11 hours and 5400 miles I landed yesterday in SF. It was warm and the sun was sinking, which helped me feel more awake as it was 1.30 in the morning body clock time. Did not really sleep on the plane. We had a primary meal experience at about 3pm UK time, after which they dimmed the lights for night time, although it was light outside. We then had afternoon tea after midnight UK time. For the main meal I had lemon garlic chicken with fresh fig and pineapple lentil salad, followed by an Indian curry and an international cheese selection consisting of Shropshire Blue and Cornish Yarg. Afternoon tea was a trio of sandwiches and a piece of lemon ginger Stilton cheese with a scone, jam and cream. I watched the A Team film and an episode of The Office (US version).

I'm part of the advance party of 4 for our conference and we went out last night for a light meal. I had two giant mushrooms stuffed with cheese. None of us were particularly hungry, but we wnated to stay up until 10pm local time to get acclimatised.

Posted by Dirkly 07:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Singapore sling

A quick tour

sunny 38 °C
View KL conference 2009 on Dirkly's travel map.

Saturday morning we left Langkawi, despite our booked taxi transfer not arriving at the hotel. Another Air Asia flight, this time to Singapore, as we started our homeward trek. At Singapore airport we booked our hold bags in some 12 hours ahead of the flight and stowed our carry on bags in left luggage, before catching the train into the centre. Mr T in our group had rashly promised everyone a drink in Raffles, so we headed there and went to the Long Bar. We crunched through the peanut shells on the floor and ordered our drinks: beers for the men and fruit based drinks (Singapore slings) for the ladies. We then cracked open the peanut shells and ate the nuts, before chucking the outer casing on the floor. We then explored Raffles, seeing the billiard room and the gift shop. There were a number of teenage girls hanging around as a famous Korean film star, called Hung Low or something similar, was about to give a press conference. There had also been a large group of girls at the airport waiting for him.

We then relocated to the Fullerton hotel and Cavendish Bridge and had some lunch by the Singapore River at Harry's Bar. We then went 3 separate ways. Those of us who had not explored Singapore before took the open top bus tour and did a bit of the heritage and the modern tours. It was very hot and humid and even sitting under an awning at the back of the top deck was desperately hot, so with that and the incredibly boring music played between bits of commentary I found myself nodding off. Still, we got to see some of the embassies, the outside of the botanic gardens and the incredible shopping malls of Orchard Street.

We all met up again at the airport and left for England at about 11.40 at night.

Posted by Dirkly 12:07 Archived in Singapore Tagged train_travel Comments (1)

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