Her breathing was short and staggered. She hated heights and the plane ride was not a good experience for her. The thoughts of being suspended in midair, and of what could happen if there was one small malfunction with the engine, terrified my eleven year old sister. Although we are only two years apart, Sara and I are polar opposites. While for her the flight to San Francisco was terrifying, for me it was thrilling. I loved the way my stomach dropped at take off, and the way I could see for miles out the window.
After the five hour flight to San Francisco from the East coast, we arrived at our hotel where our Aunt Lou Ann was waiting on us. Lou Ann was on a business trip and had flown my mom, my sister, and I out to tour San Francisco with her over the weekend. The hotel was huge, four star. Its name: Clift (www.clifthotel.com). We had never stayed in a four star hotel before, and I was overwhelmed by the tall ceilings, color coordinated decor, and employees dressed in matching polo shirts. I was nervous; Sara was giddy. She bounced with excitement as we were led to the glass elevators by the overly friendly concierge. We didn’t spend much time in the hotel but it was beautiful and our superior room with two double beds was perfect for our group of four.
The hotel may have been huge, but the morning after arriving, we visited somewhere enormous: The Golden Gate Bridge (www.goldengatebridge.org). We arrived at the bridge around 10:00 AM. The plan was to walk across and watch the land on the other side grow larger as we got closer. That plan was foiled by fog. We couldn’t see more than five feet in front of us! It reminded me of an old Scooby Doo cartoon where the gang visited a haunted boatyard and Scooby kept slicing doughnuts out of the fog. Lou Ann and I decided to walk the bridge anyway. We made it halfway across before we turned around. The walk took less than an hour, but by the time we got back the fog had lifted. Lesson: If you want to look across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit in the afternoon.
Late one day my family visited Ghirardelli: chocolate lover’s paradise (www.ghirardellisq.com). It was hot, so we all got our favorite ice cream. It was delicious but messy. Sara wound up wearing more chocolate than she ate. Lesson: If you love chocolate, visit Ghirardelli, but beware messy eaters.
My favorite tourist stop of the week was Alcatraz (www.alcatraz.us). The mysteries behind it fascinated me. The idea of an abandoned island off the coast of San Francisco was enough to spark my interest; the fact that it used to house a jail just added to my curiosity. My family and I opted for the audio tour of the island. We took the ferry across the waterway and spent hours on the island exploring, snapping pictures, and listening to the voice on the handheld speaker tell the story of the “Escape from Alcatraz”. It was eerie and mysterious. Sara and I noticed different things about the island; she was mesmerized by the way the sun glinted off the island’s lighthouse and I by the way the island breathed mystery. Lesson: If you enjoy a good mystery or beautiful view, take an afternoon at Alcatraz.
Our weekend in San Francisco was a new and exciting experience for both me and my polar opposite. Sara says, “It was definitely worth the plane ride.”
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