We decided to head back tot he city today. We started an hour earlier than yesterday and, without the Alcatraz part, we should have plenty of time/energy to spend the day there.
We went to Millbrae and caught the train within a minute. We got off at Embarcadero and went in search of a restroom. They are remarkably hard to find. A lot of shops/restaurants don't have them (or do but only for customers). There are very few public ones and the ones that do exist tend to be way over-used (i.e. a disgusting mess) or have ridiculously long lines. Al found one of the former but was past the point of caring. I held out for the ones in the ferry building and it was one of the latter. I did eventually find one. It really does make you want to risk dehydration.
That taken care of, we went back toward the station because that's where the row of vendors was. Yesterday, Al had seen a vendor selling little bikes made out of wire and he wanted to find the booth. We did. It was right by the subway entrance. The guy also made mechanical puzzles. We wanted to get stuff but didn't want to carry it around all day. The guy said he'd be there until 5 or 6 so we told him we'd be back later.
We then consulted the map and headed toward Chinatown. I wanted to find unfamiliar fruits and we wanted lunch.
Just across the street from the wire bike guy was a place called Les Croissants...a place that sells Vietnamese sandwiches. We didn't know what a Vietnamese sandwich was so we decided to try it. We ordered one sandwich to split and figured we'd "graze" our way around, picking up a little of whatever caught our eye as we went. We got a steamed pork sandwich for $5, a tea and a 'ginger jack' cookie.
The sandwich was huge...half was plenty for each of us. It was on a nice crusty baguette with mayo, some shredded vegetable and a Vietnamese pickle. The steamed pork was not at all what I expected. It looked kind of like anemic Spam only less dense. Still, it was a tasty, satisfying sandwich.
The ginger jack was a very dense, chewy cookie. It looked like it had been baked in a very wide muffin pan. It was about 3-4 inches across and half an inch thick with a muffin paper. It was made from oats, flour, sugar, various seeds and candied/powdered ginger. I got it because it sounded interesting and I love ginger. It was just ok and not very gingery.
On to Chinatown!
We wandered through some shops and down some streets but didn't find any grocery type stores. All the people on street were either tourists like us or locals who didn't speak much English.
We went into a bakery and got a bag of mini almond cookies and a can of pop. On one street corner, a woman handed us a coupon for a dim sum restaurant and I asked her about a grocery...fruits, vegetables. She pointed up the street then to the right. So we headed that way. I had no idea how far up or right but that was the general direction we wanted to go anyway.
We called Dad while walking just to check in and were just finishing up with that when we hit the grocery district. At one store I bought a couple cactus fruits, a half-dozen rambutans and some other things that I didn't know what they were. A woman who bagged the stuff for me indicated that you eat them similarly to longans so I got them. Bing cherries were 99-cents/pound so I got some of those too.
We took all the bags to the back to be weighed and paid for. On the way back, we saw many, many bins filled with unrecognized things...no idea what most of it was. However in one bin right by the register did have recognizable contents...whole (and I mean WHOLE) plucked chickens. Just like the gag rubber chickens you see sometimes...head, feet, everything. They weren't wrapped or covered with anything, just piled in the cooler.
We left Chinatown and entered Little Italy. And there was no doubt about where the line is. The streets of Chinatown are cramped, crowded and an assault to the senses. In Little Italy, the streets were wider, there was more space around the buildings and things looked more modern and prosperous. We stopped in a coffee house to use the restroom and buy iced tea. We also ate some of the fruit we bought.
We continued on to the wax museum, Madam Tussauds. We'd seen a wax display when were last here but it was a different one. Al has some nostalgia for wax museums because he used to go to them with his mom, so we generally go wherever we find them. We bought tickets ($26 ea) which seemed steep but the displays were phenomenal. Far, far better than the ones we saw last time. The figures were incredible! We kept expecting them to move or speak.
After wandering through all the displays, we were whipped. We'd been standing or walking non-stop for hours with only a brief break while we ate our sandwiches or drank iced tea. We were due at the kids' for supper at 6:30 and wanted to shower and rest before then so we headed back via the Embarcadero to the station entrance where the wire bike vendor was. Al picked out a bike and I got several puzzles. Al gave him an extra $5 and told him he wasn't charging enough.
We waited about 2 minutes for our train and REALLY enjoyed the sit-down on the trip back.
At home, we chatted with Linda before she went off to a "mystery room" experience and we went to the kids'. Supper was spaghetti, salad and chocolate mousse. Then we watched some American Ninja and Battlebots for a while. Earlier, Al and Eric had been reminiscing about watching Battlebots when Eric and Ryan were kids and Eric mentioned that it was back on. It was the lead in to a 'come for supper and Battlebots' evening. I'd never seen Battlebots before and it was sort of interesting but I was really impressed with American Ninja Warriors for the sheer athleticism.
We left around 10:15. Ashley had an early morning coming.