Days 8 to 12: Monterey to Santa Cruz to San Jose to San Francisco

I don’t understand why in America, when you get gas (petrol) at a gas station (garage) you have to go to the counter first with your credit card so you can’t drive off without paying.  Then despite this over cautiousness, when you’ve filled up and returned to the counter they don’t even check your signature. I guess as long as they get their money it doesn’t matter if you’re using someone else’s card.

On Thursday we went to Monterey Aquarium, where we saw some of the most amazing fish and other sea creatures – including massive 300lb tuna, great white and hammerhead sharks, otters, more types of jellyfish than I could have imagined existed, and sea horses and dragons.

Friday we left Monterey and headed up Route 1 to Santa Cruz, and amazingly saw some Americans who were even paler than me, which takes some doing. Further up the pier, apart from a surprising number of people nonchalantly fishing next to “no fishing” signs, was a fairly impressive crowd of sea lions just lying on top of each other in a big heap. They’re fascinating creatures to watch – lazily crawling over and slapping each other, barking, and generally stinking up the place. We now know how to tell them from seals as well (seals have smaller flippers so bounce along on their bellies on land, and growl instead of barking. This is educational isn’t it?)

I’m getting distracted by watching Speed on HBO. It’s one of the many well known films I haven’t actually seen.

Anyway, we then had lunch in a specialist veggie restaurant much to Vic’s delight called the Saturn Café, then drove up Route 17 to San Jose. (Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Yes, I just told you didn‘t I.) San Jose, being inland, was much hotter than the coast, and was actually too hot to stick around too long, so we checked out some gay and lesbian art, part of a new exhibition at Works/Community Art and Performance Centre and then set off for San Francisco on Route 101.

We spent Friday night until Monday afternoon in San Francisco, staying at the Cathedral Hill Hotel. This hotel is the most expensive we’ve stayed in so far, and seems to follow the rule of the more you pay for a hotel room, the less you get included for the price. We had to pay $20 a day for parking, and the WiFi was extortionate so we decided not to give them any more of our money. Also I’m sure the fat, lazy parking attendant muttered “f***ing asshole” under his breath when I couldn’t find my ticket.

During our time in San Fran we went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum downtown to see a celebration of artist Maurice Sendak’s illustrations (he did that “Where the Wild Things Are” children’s book which you may know), thought we’d see Little Boots on a whim one night but it was sold out, had a bus ride during which some “youths” smashed the back doors, went to a Moroccan restaurant on a local paper’s recommendation where evidently no-one had bothered to make any of the desserts on the menu, went shopping round Union Square, did more sea lion stalking at Fisherman’s Wharf, and of course, took a trip to Alcatraz.

Just watched that ridiculous bus jump. Keanu Reeves is an amazing actor.

So this afternoon, after the Alcatraz tour we drove up to see the “famous” Golden Gate Bridge, which isn’t golden or a gate and was unfortunately almost completely obscured by mist, then drove up Route 5 to Stockton where we’re stopping over tonight before continuing on to Yosemite tomorrow for a couple of nights. Then it’s camping in Death Valley and on to a tacky hotel in Vegas.

It’s very likely we won’t have internet for a few days, but if anyone’s still actually reading this, all the photos and videos we’ve taken so far are on Flickr. Luckily the beauty of Flickr is how you can quickly skim over everything.