Monday 28th October 2013
We had decided to spoil ourselves and have a real American Diner breakfast, Richard had pointed us in the direction of Castro and Market and here was a Pucker-Gen American Diner called Orphan Andy's.
It had the long bar with the bar stools, the fixed tables with bench seats and at each table was the ubiquitous juke box operating system. Fantastic, it brought back the Whimpy-bar era to me.
We got ourselves seated, straight away 2 mugs of coffee, 2 glasses of water and the menu, the nice waiter (I remember them as waitresses but I suppose we had hit on a one in Castro) came and took our order and was very patient and explained that yes they had pancakes but as theirs are cooked on a hot plate not in a pan they called them hotcakes (me redfaced stupido), we had ordered the whole wack, hotcakes, eggs, bacon and sausages.
Of course you are allowed as much coffee as you wish (in fact you have to tell them that you don't want any more after the third mug). He was very helpful, we asked about the hop on hop off tour bus, out came one of those smart-phone thingies with apps (we havedumb-phones with numbers)he told us that we needed to get the street car down to Fisherman's Wharf and there was the start of the round tour.
Just outside was the street car stop that took us all the way (I get senior citizen rates of 75cents) to the warf.
We got to Fisherman's Wharf and enquired at the kiosk and as we had just missed a one we decided to have a look around pier 39, take some photos of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge (without fog)
and the harbour Sea Lions that were basking in the morning sun on the decking that has been specially constructed for them. Interesting story, but they only started congregating there after the earthquake of 1989, they had at first tried to scare them away (they do pong a bit), but have now become such a tourist attraction that the city have decided that it is better to admit defeat and make their lives as comfortable as possible.
We then got on our Hop on Hop off all timber open topped tour bus, this is of course done with a running commentary, that explains the sights and each district as you pass through. The full tour takes about half a day (or longer if you decide to cross the bridge and go to Sausalito). It takes in the North Beach area (Little Italy), China Town (now that is what I call a China Town), the financial district of Union Square, Civic Center, Alamo Square (with some of the best "painted ladies in San Francisco), the tour busses no longer go through this district as the residents became sick of them and if you wish to visit and have a look you get off at Hayes street and walk down.
It was then on to Golden Gate Park, this had been our original destination as we wanted to visit the De Young Museum, we got off the bus and went to the entrance, guess what, Mondays it's closed, I do wish I had one of those smart-phones with an app!
But all was not lost across the road is Californian Academy of Sciences, it was a wonderful experience with loads of hands on exhibits for the kids (I am just a big kid in reality), a rain forest section with free flying butterflies and rain forest birds. We met a very nice lady who explained all about them, she was originally from Wimbledon, but had emigrated many years ago, though she still had an English accent, a veritable fountain of information. You wind your way upwards from the forest floor and river with their monstrous fish, ever upward through the differing levels until you reach the canopy. It is truly amazing and is the next best thing to actually going to a rain forest (I have been to both the Amazonas and the Central American (Panama and Belize), the only thing missing is the actual Howler Monkey's .
The aquarium is very well equipped and has lots of interesting exhibits as is the terrarium, spider collection (Linda didn't think so). It also has an interesting shallow reef, with the local fish swimming around.
Prior to going into the rainforest we had been into the Planetarium and had a very interesting visual show on the causes and results of Earthquakes, this is a fantastic multi-media show projected onto the dome and you actually feel as if you are in the midst of the landscapes and earthquakes.
It was now getting on and we had a cup of coffee in a less than satisfactory restaurant (need to do better in there) and decided to head for home via a part of the park that would lead us to the street car. The Golden Gate Park has the last remaining Giant Redwoods standing in San Francisco. But it also has a multitude of other native and foreign flora. Another couple of street cars took us to the vicinity of 21st street (more by luck than good judgement) and we decided to have a meal before heading back to Delores. We had been to Valencia the last evening to the Mexican and on the way there I had noticed what looked like a reasonable Indian restaurant, both being fans of Indian food we decided that is what we would eat tonight. Linda sent a Text message to Richard asking if he fancied joining us but he had too much work on so declined.
The Amber Dhara restaurant on Valencia Street
This is a very nice restaurant with plenty of seating (as it was still early evening it was quite empty), it has a very nice cocktail bar and you can if the restaurant is full take a seat at the bar, have a drink and take in the atmosphere. We didn't need to, we were at once asked where we would like to be seated and as is normal a carafe of water appears with the waiter and the menu. Everything is prepared on the premises so don't expect take away service, order a drink and may be a few nibbles and enjoy the surrounds, the staff is very attentive without being overbearing, they are I would say 95% native Indian and know their job and the food that they serve. Questions informatively answered and information given in a pleasant manner.
We decided on two of the lamb dishes, Linda chose the Laal Maas a spicy lamb red chilly curry, I ordered the Banjara Gosht,pieces of roast leg of lamb in a very nice almond paste, ginger and brown onion spiced sauce. We ate them with plain Basmati rice and a Tandoori bread basket, this consisted of some very interesting naans, rotis, green pea kultcha and lacha paratha. It was as normal a monster portion, but then it always is and no we didn't want it wrapped to take home.
We both agreed that the meal was very fine, may be not better than a Bradford curry house, but certainly no worse than the best that Akbar has to offer.So it got a very high ooh's and aah's rating from Linda, I don't think we shall have time to revisit it but if we had more time it would certainly be visited again and again. A big Thumbs up from both of us, for well-prepared tasty food at reasonable prices (USA Prices), the service was efficient, friendly and not at all over bearing.
We then headed wearily back to Richard apartment, I to work on my blog and Linda to doze in front of the TV (would you believe it Dr Martin was on).