California Academy of Sciences

Today we got up early (8am) to get over to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park.

We took a Lyft ride at about 10am, which took 15 minutes or so.

Entry was quite expensive – $150 or so for the family. It was quite interesting, with various exhibits about the natural world, including live penguins and a rainforest world in several levels. There was also a large aquarium in the basement, a planetarium, and 3D film theatre.

There was a large number of visitors, and lots of noise. While I think the place was “good”, I feel it was a bit lacking – maybe the exhibits could have had more detail, more depth, and if the place had been bigger, with more information about each topic, then maybe it wouldn’t have felt so crowded. Lunch was also over priced.

Just arrived
Big fish
Dragon scales
Touch the starfish
What a gem
Rooftop garden

When we finished up, about 4pm, we grabbed a ride back to the motel – had a nice coffee at the corner Italian place, and relaxed before going out for dinner.

For dinner, we walked about 200m around the corner to a Japanese place.


Cable cars

Today we bought some 1-day passes for the cable-cars, and took a few trips around the city. The only point really was to ride…

Riding the car
Hanging out
Hanging out

We took a stop at the top of Lombard, actually not too far from our motel, to see the crazy switch-back…

Lombard from the top
Lombard from the bottom

Hopping off at the end station

Hopping off

When we got hungry we took the cable car up Powell to the corner of Sutter, and ended up at a diner called Lori’s.

Lunch at Lori’s

Dessert at Lori’s

Dessert at Lori’s

And pinball at Lori’s




Today we got a Lyft down to Pier 33 for our 10:30 trip to Alcatraz. The ferry took about 12 minutes wharf-to-wharf, on a beautiful blue-sky day.

Alcatraz ferry
On the ferry

On the island, we were issued with our mp3 players, for a quite good 45 minute  recorded tour of the prison.

In the cell block
In the cell block
In the cell block
Recreation yard
View of San Fran
Spring flowers
Solar flare

All in all, actually a very good little trip out to The Rock. We had a little packed lunch with us, so we had a little bite while we waited for the ferry back to town.


We then took a little walk up to Fishermans’ Wharf, and had a wee rest before Lyfting back to our motel.

Fish Wharf

Westfield mall and Chinatown

Today we decided to walk down to Westfield shopping mall to see if we could get a bargain. We had originally been considering a day trip to a huge outlet shopping centre outside San Francisco, but it turned out to be about 60km away, and we weren’t too keen on that.

So a walk to Westfield…

Walking in the hot sun

We walked down towards Union Square, and even crossed Sutter Street on the way.

On the way to Union Square

A brief pause in the lovely sunshine .

Union Square
Union Square

And finally, shopping

Westfield shopping mall
Professional art
Virtual reality

Across the road from the shopping mall was a turning place for one of the city tram lines. Quite interesting to watch.

Tram line
Tram turning
Chinatown lanterns
Chinatown lamp
Chinatown street
Chinatown street 2
Chinatown never hungry
Chinatown road cover


Today was a bit of a walking tour, leaving our motel about 11:30 and heading over to the Haight-Ashbury area.

On the way

We passed lots of olden houses…


On the way we stopped off in Japantown where we ate lunch – sushi, and a chicken roll.

Sushi lunch in Japantown
Japantown’s bouncy castle

We also went past the “painted ladies”, which somewhat disappointingly turned out to be houses.

The so-called Painted Ladies

We had a brief stop in a large game-store

Cool games’ shop

And rounded off the afternoon with a coffee and hot chocolate

Drinking bad coffee from plastic cups at Cafe Cole

We caught a taxi back to the motel (actually a “lyft” service), and ate dinner at a local butcher where they also make burgers.

Burger dinner at Belcampo’s

And here is an external picture of our motel for the curious (the non-curious should close their eyes now).

Our motel, Nob Hill Inn


Today we walked from our motel down (up and down) to the Exploratorium.

It was a long walk – probably 3km – but the sun was out and it was warm.

The Exploratorium was a great place to spend the day, not least of which because a random lady gave us 3 free tickets as we were walking in… that saved us about $60.

Inside, there were heaps of interactive exhibits, including motion/mechanics, light, electricity, magnetism, biology, sociology, and geography.

Making sparks
Pixelated hand

City Tour

We took the Big Bus tour around San Francisco today. Hopped on about a kilometre or so from our motel, and travelled a few stops to Pier 39 where we paused for lunch.

Big Bus
Hot dog, pier 39
Lunch, pier 39
Sea lions, pier 39

After lunch we continued the circuit, including a breezy and cold trip across the Golden Gate bridge.

Breezy trip over “The bridge”.

It was a good way to get an introduction to the city.

Back at the motel for dinner, where some of us are having sushi, and others tacos.


Farewell to NZ

The sad day finally came where we had to say farewell to family and friends. We drove up to Auckland airport from Papamoa on 02 May, arriving about 4pm. We checked in, and waited for our 19:45 flight on Air NZ to San Francisco.

The flight departed about 20:00, and landed in San Fran at about 08:15 NZ time – which was 13:15 local time, on the same day as we left!

Air NZ food was honestly some of the worst airline food I have had. Dry bread buns, and tasteless vegetables and beef stew. Not to mention that when you ask for a “Steinlager”, they hand you a Steinlager Pure!

On the other hand, their entertainment system was excellent.

It took us about 2 hours to make it from the plane through the horrendous queues at passport control, and collect our bags, which were circulating on the bag conveyor.

Our time in NZ was fantastic, and simply wouldn’t have been possible without the massive help and support from our family. Thanks so much for everything guys!

“Lunch” in San Francisco. Little Italian shop on the corner.
Street scene


The sixth of December, we travelled further along the cost to a place called Weligama. The town itself is rather uninspiring, although we did find a nice local restaurant for lunch one day.

The “resort” we stayed at for 3 nights was called “Neptune Story” – or maybe “Neptune Resort”, or “Good Story”. It was not quite 100 percent certain what the name was.

In any case, the beach was excellent, the resort itself less so. The first night we had 2 rooms which stunk of bad sewer. The manager did try to rectify the situation, and upgraded us to a couple of “bungalows” – one of which stunk of old cigarette smoke.

Even so, with the nice pool for the kids, it was quite pleasant here. There were lovely sunsets, and a little bar on the beach.

The beach had really good surf, and Albert was out several times surfing, Elise was out boogie boarding, Malene was out a couple of times surfing, and Peter even tried it.


After Udawalawe we travelled to the coastal town of Tangalle. We had 2 nights here.

Unfortunately as I write this (yet again) the wifi is terrible and I cannot upload pictures in wordpress. Sri Lanka has a thing with bad wifi.

Pictures now…

The resort we were at was very nice, and we had a lovely spacious “villa” with a mezzanine floor with beds for the kids.

Our villa:

The beach was very nice, and swim-friendly, and the little pool was also a hit.