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Entries about car

Cable Cars and Bridges in the Bay Area

Los Altos, San Francisco, Pleasanton

sunny 22 °C
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When heading from the coast in Half-Moon-Bay towards Los Altos, we passed a nice forest and a very scenic lake. We only realized a bit later that the scenic lake was in fact the San Andreas fault – another reminder that we’re on dangerous grounds – specifically as scientists are warning that the next big earthquake is long overdue for the bay area.
Our first impression of the bay area was extremely positive. We had expected 5pm traffic towards the southern suburbs to be more than just bad, but realized that traffic was flowing nicely for most parts. So we ended up being too early at Hamish and Elis’ place in Los Altos. While we had pre-warned Hamish a couple of months ago that we’d be coming to the bay area, due to lack of reception around Big Sur, we were only able to firm up our plans that morning. So we were lucky that Hamish and Elis were spontaneous enough to receive us on such short notice.
While we enjoyed a nice BBQ and catching up, Max and Venicious enjoyed playing with each other and specifically riding Venicious’ bikes.

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They continued playing the full morning and Max did not want to leave his new friend at all. Still, we had plans, as we wanted to see San Francisco. We soon realized that we should rather give up on our original plan to park somewhere downtown and headed towards the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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After some unexpected excellent food at a street booth, we went for the classic cable car ride We were lucky to be offered half-price day passes from other tourists (which eventually we sold for the same money at the end of our second cable car ride). Max and I sat, while Sam took the classical transportation method standing outside. We all enjoyed the cable car rides and it is simply amazing to see how steep the hills in San Francisco really are.

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After getting off at the final station at Powell / Market, we explored Union Square and Chinatown before taking another cable car back to our car. It was fun!

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Then it was time to approach the next San Francisco classic: The Golden Gate Bridge. Edging our way along the waterfront towards the bridge, already gave some nice opportunities not only of the bridge, but also of famous Alcatraz.

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But we had taken the conscious decision that did not just want to see the bridge, but we also wanted to drive over it. And we’re so happy that we took that decision: to see the bridge up close has just a different feel to it vs. just looking at it.
And best of all: on the north side of the bridge we had the evening light being just perfect and we really enjoyed taking in various viewpoints. To complete the vista, we got to see a couple of container ships and even some whales on both sides of the bridge.

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Considering evening traffic, we rather opted for going north and heading out towards Oakland via the Richmond bridge – which also had the nice side benefit that we did not have to pay any bridge tolls – to reach our next campground in Pleasanton.

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We spent the next morning in the attempt of getting Sam’s glasses fixed. He had realized that his frame had a crack on one of the two sides – the one that had not been changed a couple of months back in Germany. So we tried to locate a Silhouette retailer and at the second attempt even found one. We soon realized that they were only selling frames, but not able to fix the glasses on site. At least they were able to refer us to another store where we were promised that the new frame could be mounted within a couple of minutes.
Perfect! We went there and the guy was in fact very quick in getting Sam’s old glasses taken apart and the new fame mounted. Except that when mounting the first lens, the lens cracked… He had not realized that Sam’s lenses were high index material, which is significantly more brittle than poly-carbonate. Not good…
At least he had lenses on stock for Sam’s prescription and was able to basically make new lenses and fix them into the new frame – and all of that for 15$. Sam is happy with the result and even though this kept us busy until the early afternoon, we are glad to having done the replacement. After all, a journey like that without the proper kind of glasses would be a big miss. And after all: Yosemite was waiting for us!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 16:48 Archived in USA Tagged car bridge golden san francisco cable bay glasses gate wharf altos Comments (0)

The sacred island

Raiatea

sunny 28 °C
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It had just been a 15 min flight from Bora Bora to Raiatea and before we realized it, we were landing again. Our baggage arrived promptly – an advantage of tiny airports. Andrew, the owner of the Manava Lodge, picked us up at the airport. He kindly offered to make a stop at the local supermarket to stock up our supplies for the next couple of days. We had booked a bungalow with outdoor kitchen and nice private terrace surrounded by a tropical garden – an excellent choice. We immediately felt at home.

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The next morning, we had an early start. Andrew’s wife Roselyne took Max and me to the airport where at 8:20 the flight from Maupiti was scheduled to arrive. And soon enough we had again the bag that we had lost in Maupiti which had contained almost all of Max' toys. Lucky us!
We decided to take it easy and just did a short excursion to the Vairua pearl farm at the adjacent beach. The owner patiently explained to us how the two-year-old oysters are opened and a small piece of mantle tissue from another oyster together with a spherical bead (which is called a 'graft') are inserted in the pearl and then kept at eight to ten meters’ depth for around 18 months, when they will be collected. By then about 80% of the oysters will have grown a pearl inside. Very interesting. But with the antibiotics and surgical instruments used in the process, we were reminded a bit of a dentist.

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The rest of the day, we spent at our terrace and at the pool. While Max played football with the local kids, Sam prepared the fresh tuna we had bought in the morning in the typical Tahitian way, i.e. raw with coconut milk. And as a desert we had a fresh coconut that just fell down from one of the trees around our bungalow. Excellent!

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It is nice to enjoy now, what was still just theory back in February, when I had been sitting in front of the chimney in cold Germany, plotting out on which islands there were nice and affordable accommodations, checked availability, matched that to available flights and booked it all. That was my way of insuring that we get the best value for money while staying in rather expensive destinations. Due to that pre-work, we’re currently having the luxury of knowing where to stay each night until November 7. The downside is that after once we’ll reach Australia that day we have nothing at all so far except a very rough idea of what we’d like to do. And so we spent a bit of time that evening, plotting out the ideas and sending the first inquiries about transportation options which will then be the base for arranging everything else around it.
We woke up the next morning with the plan to have breakfast and a hike to the nearby three cascades. While Sam stuck to the plan, I stayed home with Max such that he could enjoy playing with Abel again. After all, he had not had the chance to intensively play with other kids since we left Canmore four weeks earlier. And Max and Abel had so much fun!

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Sam enjoyed his hike very much. With the help of locals, he found the narrow pathway up along a small river, passed through dense jungle like forest and got rewarded with a nice waterfall at the end.

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With Max being busy and not requiring hardly any attention and Sam hiking, I used the opportunity to take care of the blog. As Sam had supplied me with lots of pictures in the last couple of days, I published the sixth blog post within ten days. While this is a new record, it is also a sign that we had been quite behind. We still are behind, but nearly as much anymore.
The remainder of the day, we spent once more at the pool before heading back to our bungalow to have dinner. That evening Sam’s tripod came into action again: first he tried to take pictures of the many crabs in the garden around us, of the geckos above our terrace and then headed to the sea to take pictures of the full moon raising above the island of Huahine in the East.

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And then it was time to explore the island. We rented a car for the day and did the tour of the island. Our first stop was at a temple, called Marae Taputapuatea. It is one of the most important temples in Polynesia, marking the center point between New Zealand, the Easter Islands and Hawaii. Only the stone structures remain to this date, but previously there would have been all kinds of wooden structures as well, ceremonial houses, living quarters and huts to store the war canoes.

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We were easily able to resist the temptation to bathe in a river together with the famous and sacred blue-eyed eels and opted instead for snorkeling in the lagoon. As it was Sunday, there were also quite a couple of locals around and we were able to do some people watching.

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The remainder of the drive around the island was nice as well. We enjoyed alternating vistas of the lagoon and the mountains covered in lush and dense tropical forest.

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Once we were back home, all of us were more than keen to jump into the pool to cool off a bit. Max played with Abel again and the two had lots of fun together.
After that much excitement and lots of sun, we had a quiet and relaxing evening. We simply enjoyed sitting on our nice and comfortable terrace.
On our last day in Raiatea we wanted to do some hiking and climb mount Tapioi above the island’s main town of Uturoa. Along the way we got to see a lot of the local fauna in their natural habitat and we even passed a vanilla plantation.

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From the viewpoint up there, we had an excellent view of all of the Leeward Islands we’d be visiting: Maupiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine. In addition, we saw Raiatea’s sister island Taha'a which is well known for its vanilla production, but which we skipped on our journey.

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Back in town, we stocked up our water and cash supplies before hitchhiking back to our pension. Already the first driver stopped and was kind enough to take us all the way there even though this meant a detour on his way home. Wow!
As we were home earlier than expected, we had the whole afternoon to spend in and around the pool until Roselyne took us to the airport for our flight to Huahine.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 06:39 Archived in French Polynesia Tagged temple mountain car island waterfall farm tour snorkeling pearl viewpoint Comments (1)

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