I met these monkeys on a seat on the edge of Chinatown in San Francisco, they were rather well done I felt- monkey sized and pretty life-like!
However I wasn't feeling like exploring Chinatown- to be honest they feel the same in most cities I've been to, I don't really see them as an attraction. Why not just go to China if you want to see Chinese culture?! I got a lift into an area called Union Square, which is the hotel and shopping centre so far as I gathered, and so I had to immerse myself in the American consumerist culture for a while, and wander around the many flagship stores they have. I even bought a few things, which I was rather glad of later on when the temperature dropped to unreasonably chilly! I can't say I wasn't warned, but I never thought it would get quite that cold, this is California in the middle of summer!!! San Francisco is known for it's microclimates, but they really are quite something!
After exploring the shops I had a bit of lunch, turns out I got lucky and picked an Italian cafe with reasonably authentic Italian food. And coffee. Mmm coffee. As a side note, Americans have an unfair reputation for bad coffee, it's nowhere near as awful as English coffee! I'm forming a theory that I might actually be able to drink espresso and macchiato in Italy, and that the reason I like it milky is due to the (poor) quality of the coffee. This is convenient as my stomach has taken a dislike to dairy after Russia, and goes on strike whenever I have coffee.
Anyhow, that has nothing whatsover to do with the pictures you can now see of the amazing cable car I went on. I have heard comparisons of San Francisco and Wellington before, and they are fair. Landing at the airport feels just as much like you are about to land in the harbour as it does in Welly, and then it has all the hills, and the sea, and a cable car. And as dearly as I love Wellington, and it's cable car, it's got nothing on this one! And yes, of course I got myself a spot standing up hanging off the edge at the front, where else would I go! Although I would advise trousers rather than a dress such as mine for this endeavour- the wind is another fair comparison with Wellington! I enjoyed the cable car a great deal, they do rather rule the roads wherever they go, half the stops seem to be in the middle of intersections. And one guy almost got run over by us- these cable cars go around corners and I guess he wasn't looking. Although they do make a hell of a racket, they have bells that the drivers ring with the skill and enthusiasm of a bell-puller calling Sunday mass!
I jumped off the cable-car at the top of the last hill, where I could peer down the infamously steep Lombard Street, which zig-zags downhill ruining the otherwise grid-like road maps. I attempted to take some pictures, but eventually realised that the bottom of the hills was probably a lot better place to try and take a picture of it than the top, so you'll have to settle for a picture of me instead. You can see the white 4x4 making it's way at a good angle I guess. Anyway, I didn't fancy walking down the hill only to walk back up it again, and I wanted to go down to Fisherman's wharf, see the famous chocolate factory, admire the sea and bum around a bit before getting myself up to Golden Gate park to wander about some more and have dinner.
Walking down the street following cable car tracks I encountered a rather amazing view-
I also briefly spotted what I believe was the Golden Gate bridge, hiding in it's usual cover of fog. San Francisco has many things, but more than almost anything else, it has fog. Lots and lots of fog. There was also another rather impressive bridge, called Bay Bridge, which goes to Oakland and Berkeley University. On the topic of universities, we are very close to Stanford university here, I am very tempted to try and visit. I only want a picture of the Metaphysics lab.....