Today we became official tourists. Full on, quotation mark, capital letter ‘Tourists’.Seriously, we may as well have worn bumbags and fluorescent caps.
It’s Easter Sunday, so a lot of places were closed. Rather than risking busing somewhere only to discover that it wasn’t open, we decided to head back down to the Wharf and use the tickets that we’d bought before coming for three of the major tourist attractions – Ripley’s museum, the Wax Museum and the Aquarium.
Frankly, two out of three were pretty disappointing. The wax museum was alright, but a) not a lot happens (probably a given), b) there were a surprising number of ‘change your notes to coins here machines’ (“Why do you suppose that is?” asked Matt, only to learn the answer as we rounded the next corner and bumped into the first of several ‘test your strength and/or sex appeal/fortune here’ machines) and c) the Marilyn Munroe figure was so unlike the real Marilyn that it undid any of the good work on the figures until that point.Salvador Dali was quite good though.
The aquarium was fine, but pretty small and had a surprising amount of non-aquatic animals (although since one of them was an chinchilla – like a hopping mouse the size of a small rabbit – and was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen that can be forgiven). I thought there would be more though, and had I known, I would have spent more time entranced by the octopus or the jellyfish at the beginning of the exhibit. They’re so captivating – if someone put either one as my screensaver I would never actually open my computer again.
Ripley’s was good – there’s plenty of interesting stuff there, and lots of it interactive, which is always nice. Plus there’s a huge collection of art made out of strange things (push pins, chicken wire, telephone books, cassette tapes, pennies and more) which is like looking through the Art Attack! archives. If you don’t know what Art Attack! is, go look it up now. I’ll wait.
Are you back? Good. So Ripley’s was good, and the only time it asked me to change my notes for coins (which of course it did) it was for quarters to put in the fake shooting gallery to make targets spin. I love this game so I was totally happy to spend my quarters on it. And then we exited through our third gift shop of the day and I was amazed at the lack of cool stuff. I thought that Ripley’s would have all sorts of oddities for sale. Instead there was one invisible ink quiz (cool), some oversized novelty sunglasses with nothing whatsoever to do with Ripley’s (not) and then the rest of the shop was filled with a candy store (ohmygodsonotwhyisthisevenhere??). I walked (actually by this stage I was hobbling thanks to a particularly nasty blister and my total lack of endurance) out onto the street, ashamed at having bought into these three tourist traps when I could have been soaking up the much more vibrant and exciting parts of San Fran.
Back on the street things weren’t much better. The first day on the Wharf had been touristy but this was something else. It was all the obnoxious stereotypes crammed into one. Noisy, loud, pushy and rude and all I wanted to do was have a nice lie down.
But as we near the end of the San Fran leg of our trip I’m becoming even more determined to cram every minute with something exciting, so we hopped back on a cable car back to downtown SF and then (after a quick detour to buy a cardie and put on a second pair of tights and some legwarmers because I could no longer feel my legs) walked to the Muni station to get back to the Mission district before the sun went down. We made it just in time to catch the last glimmer of light on the street art down Clarion Alley (an ever changing and very famous strip of street art). I got my photos, Matt got dinner and our faith in humanity was restored.
Then we accidentally discovered the diner from American Graffiti which is by far the best diner we’ve discovered here. We also accidentally ate a big slice of amazing berry pie and we may go back tomorrow and accidentally eat some more. Easter Sunday really managed to turn it around in the final quarter.