On Wednesday morning Mart went back to work. Kelly and I decided to start the day doing something a local would find unbearable and we headed off to what Mart calls Tourist Land, more commonly known as Pier 39 in Fisherman's Wharf. It is in some ways an awfully naff tourist trap, but somehow also a must see. If not because it's a tourist duty to at least make an appearance at several tacky gift shops, then for two other reasons. Firstly, there are the sea lions, which you'll find lolling around on rafts anchored by the pier. We stayed for quite a while watching them flopping in and out of the water, lazily fighting over the best spots and relentlessly barking for no apparent reason. I can't imaging that anyone has been there without them or someone they're with having a go at impersonating the sea lion sound. Once we had torn ourselves away we wondered into The Aquarium of the Bay. Inside we found a fairly small, but incredible display of wildlife from the bay. The jellyfish were brilliant to photograph and the glass tunnel through the main tank was excellent. After the tunnel we got to Kelly's favourite part, where we were encouraged to gently stroke rays and touch starfish in their open, shallow tanks.
After the aquarium, we walked through Fisherman’s wharf to North Beach and up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. This art deco tower was built with the wealth left to San Francisco after the death of the eccentric Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a woman of high society, but strangely for the time also a bit of a tom boy and obsessed with firefighting. Having spent many days on our feet we were not looking forward to the stairs up the tower so we were not disappointed when we discovered the only way up was in an old, crowded lift. The tower is in a fantastic position and from the top you get a 360 degree panoramic view that includes the bay, Alcatraz, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Bridge, Downtown and most of the rest of the city.
We walked down Telegraph Hill for a walk around North Beach and then China Town. Kelly found a Dim Sum shop recommended in her Rough Guide and I went in for some lunch. The menu written on a blackboard was not in English, so I just asked for something for lunch. A few blocks down the road I decided I couldn’t tell if what I had purchased was meant to be eaten as it was or cooked. Sadly, after only a few bites I wimped out and we went to find something more conventional. To satisfy Kelly’s book shop lust we stopped at a City Lights, a independent book shop and official historic landmark. After some more wondering we found ourselves Down Town again and, after a stop at a Jamba Juice, we headed into the Wells Fargo Museum, a moderately cited exhibit of Californian history. We left at closing time and headed off to meet Mart.