We have arrived safe and sound back in Altrincham after 30 hours of travelling. The group were all fantastic and had a great time cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting Alcatraz and skiing in the beautiful Mammoth Mountains.
Starting off at the Pier collecting bikes, helmets and instructions we headed out; no finer sight than a group of students and staff heading out in snake fashion on another fabulous day. Amazing route taking in the Marine district, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge. A few steep parts en route, which necessitated a bit of bike pushing but hitting the bridge and cycling is so worth it for the amazing views, simply breathtaking.
Then the fun bit commenced, going downhill winding our way to the picturesque sea village of Sausalito. Break time for snacks and ice cream and browsing in the shops; could easily have stayed there longer.
We picked up the ferry with bikes in tow back to the Pier; great fun trying to find your bike amongst the mass! Students were a great credit.
Each group took the tour with a variety of stop offs including Twin Peaks, Seven Sisters in Alamo Square (just think of Mrs Doubtfire), Baker Beach for a paddle and kite acquired flying, Golden Gate Park with the Japanese Tea Garden and a hike up the zigzag Lombard Street with super quirky houses.
Panoramic view from Twin Peaks
The top of Lombard Street and paddling at Baker Beach
Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park
We all congregated back at the Hard Rock Café for a phone free dinner and chat. Seventy four exhausted students the collapsed into bed before an early start the next morning.
Up bright and breezy, and after our energy building breakfast eggs over easy, muffins and pleased to say very popular melon and pineapple combo we split into two groups; one taking a walking tour and the other Alcatraz. Weather clear skies and sunny all the way.
With Mr Murray at the helm of group 1 we strode out taking in sights and sounds of the trams clanking past, heading for Chinatown. A vibrant part of the city, so much to take in. Two particular highlights were visiting the Fortune Cookie factory; a tiny entrance down a side street with an aged Chinese lady producing the cookies. Even had the opportunity to make a note to put inside for someone special. Some pupils in group 2 took up the opportunity of an impromptu session playing mandarins in the street and if you like a bit of graffiti there was also some fabulous artwork to be seen.
A bit of the ’Streets of San Francisco’ steep street walking was another challenge but the students were not to be beaten and impressed with their continued energy levels. The literal climb took us to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, a memorial to Lillie Coit and the San Francisco firemen; all 210 feet. Some students even managed to climb it; very impressed.
Alcatraz the ‘Rock’, what can we say, fascinating. Took the ferry over with students all straight up on the top deck for the best views and sea spray. The Ranger gave us super talk on the history of the island from its initial military fortification and prison in the 1860s to a federal prison from 1934 to 1963 when it was finally closed as no longer cost effective. Students took the opportunity to ask insightful questions of the Ranger. We then headed up to the prison itself collecting our headset tour guides. So much information and students lapped it up taking in each stop point and every photo opportunity. There was even the opportunity to have a book signed by a former prison William G Baker prisoner #1259, imprisoned for fraud and ended up at Alcatraz for escaping from other facilities. Souvenirs purchased, we caught the ferry back for our meet up at the Westfield Shopping Centre; too much excitement for students when they discovered there was a Sephora shop across the road; lots of shopping and dinner.
Arrived safely if somewhat bedraggled to our ‘shabby chic’ hotel, The Whitcomb. Quick check-in and off we coached to Pier 39 for food, sea lions aplenty lounging in the evening sun and a bite to eat. Mexican, the obligatory pizza and donuts were rather a popular option.
The first computing trip to San Francisco has been a huge success and they all arrived safely back into Manchester airport on Saturday the 29th October. It has been an extremely busy week visiting all the local sights; Alcatraz, bike ride over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito, Fisherman’s Wharf, NASA, Stanford University, Computer History Museum, Tech Museum of Innovation, cable car ride, Lombard Street and Coit tower. We also managed to fit in a trip to Westfield Shopping centre, Stanford Shopping centre and Macy’s; you can’t visit America without a visit to the shops.
The girls enjoyed visiting Google and Microsoft and were inspired by the talks given by four women who work at Microsoft; they were also treated to a free lunch at both!
The behaviour of the girls was fabulous throughout the week.
A massive thank-you to Mr. Osborne, Mrs. Barrow and Mrs. Carradus for their hard work and good humour. A special mention to Mr. Osborne for his excellent map reading.