Man it Pours… (California Part 2)
A few weeks have past since I made the first California post. I’ve finally made it out in every port…tendering has made it all but impossible several times. This itinerary is really different from anything that I’ve done before, mainly because it’s almost entirely in the United States. The scenery is pretty incredible and quite different from the Caribbean or Europe.
First, let’s start off by saying that the seafood has been incredible here. I am a fan of all things fishy and squishy from the sea so California is pretty rad. Oysters, calamari, fresh fish, crabs, and many other assorted goodies are readily available all over this coast. It’s pretty much been a seafood bonanza. Being in a place where premium food and drink is appreciated and expected is great.
The scenery on this itinerary is ever-changing and often quite dramatic. The Pacific in general is usually grey and serious looking, often with heavy whitecaps and fog. While having drinks in a second story bar overlooking the bay in San Francisco, I witnessed the fog rolling in. One minute it was clear and sunny and then suddenly the Golden Gate Bridge disappeared into a massive cloud working its way up the bay. Soon Alcatraz disappeared and finally we were engulfed.
Many of the other ports on this itinerary are quite mountainous. Towns like Santa Barbara are tucked in between the Pacific and the Mountains directly behind them. Catalina Island resembles Santorini from a distance, that is until you get up close and see that all the buildings are on the bottom of the mountains, not the tops.
Each week in Catalina island there have been huge schools of dolphins swimming across the area where we anchor. They stretch pretty much as far as the eye can see and spend pretty much all day combing up and down the coast of the island. We’ve also scene and heard a lot of sea lions. These guys pretty much seem like big idiots and spend all day lying on anything remotely flat and barking. It seems like a pretty idyllic existence.
San Francisco is a really interesting city from a visual standpoint. I would argue that the city doesn’t really have a distinct skyline, which is interesting for such an iconic city. It has the bridges, of course, (and we’ll get to those later) and a few buildings that are quite unique but its charm comes elsewhere. Many of the city’s buildings are quite old and in general the city feels a bit older than many other American cities. Views of the city hall look almost European and remind me of Copenhagen. Add to that the 19th century street cars riding up and down Market st. and you get a really interesting place. Not to mention the palm trees on cold foggy days. I like this mix of old technology and and old building facades and find it fascinating that they exist in a city known for cutting edge tech startups and innovative entrepreneurs.
It would be weird to write about San Francisco without mentioning the bridges. The bay has two bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge at the entrance, and the less famous Oakland Bay Bridge at the other end. While the Golden Gate Bridge gets most of the attention for it’s enormous size and bright red color, the Bay Bridge has its own attractions. At night, the Bay Bridge is covered in moving lights that put on a little show for all of San Francisco to see. While both of these bridges are huge, the Bay Bridge is almost 4 times the length of its more famous neighbor.
Like any ship coming into San Francisco from the Pacific, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, making for a rather unique view point. The day we sailed in it was rainy and foggy, rather dramatic really. The current under the bridge is quite strong and you can see why it would be so difficult to swim ashore from Alcatraz.
I attended the home opener of the World Champion San Francisco Giants at the incredible AT&T park. This ballpark is unbelievable. It overlooks the bay with a pretty unreal view. The right field wall is right up against the water so there are guys in kayaks and little boats paddling around hoping to get a home run ball.
I attended the game with Jane (British) and Stuntman/Cruise Director John. It was interesting trying to explain a game that is totally second nature to someone who was clueless about how the game works. (and no, it is nothing like rounders…whatever that is) What is an ‘out’ or a ‘ball?’ These things are tricky to explain. Our seats were in the upper box on the first base side. Great view of the game and the Bay. I’m sure in a couple of weeks they will be a fraction of the price that we payed for opening day but it was well worth it.