Hills, Sea Lions and Submarines

I’m glad I stayed on a couple of days after OOW finished, I absolutely loved OOW, but it gave me a chance to do some non-Oracle stuff (i.e. sight-seeing). Dimitri and I had planned to go and visit Alcatraz, so we set off to catch a cable-car to the Ferry, but unfortunately (as like last time I was in San Francisco a couple of years back) the queues for the cable cars were huge, so we decided to walk. Which seems like a good idea until you get to around your third hill (the first hill is a ‘novelty’, the second hill is a ‘challenge’, the third hill is a heart attack just waiting to happen). Still I have to say that some of the views back down the hills are incredible, particularly once you can see all the way down to the ocean. I forget the name of the street (Mason maybe?), but when you reach the top of the hill and look down there’s a clear view all the way down to Alcatraz, it’s an incredible sight.

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Unfortunately when we got down to the ferry, there were no more trips to Alcatraz that day, which is a shame. I’ve been to it before and really loved it, and could have easily done it all again. Well, there’s always next year I suppose.

We then had a look round the tourist-trap that is Pier 39, if you haven’t already heard of it (and you *can* hear it from about half a mile away), Pier 39 is the place famous for the sea lions. There are two things to bear in mind if you’re thinking of visiting Pier 39, firstly the sea lions are *loud*, secondly it’s a bit ‘stinky’ not to put too fine a point on it. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’ve never seen sea lions in the wild before (although ‘wild’ is a bit of a relative term here).

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After a bit of lunch (and a very well deserved beer), we headed over to a sea/naval museum, which I wanted to have a look round last time I was in San Francisco (not my wife’s cup of tea though, so I was overruled on that one). The museum is home to the USS Pampanito a World War 2 submarine which you can go onboard and look around, it’s also home to a huge supply ship used in the second world war.

Looking round the submarine was incredible, the conditions were incredibly cramped (while we were there, there were probably only 6 or 7 people onboard), during one rescue mission the Pampanito had 73 men onboard, all in the cramped conditions during wartime. You just can’t really imagine what that would be like.

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It’s amazing when you consider that the picture above shows one of the main control panels for the submarine, compare that technology with the amount of processing power you have in the average PC these days…

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I also found the supply ship amazing, if you look closely at the sign in the picture, it tells you that on average it took only 60 days to build one of these ships. I find that incredible when you look at the size and scale of it, so remember to put that into context next time a Java developer takes 18 months to complete that simple project 😉

All in all, it was a nice relaxing way to finish my time in San Francisco. I loved OOW, it was my first but it won’t be my last, I’ve met some great people and had a great time…what more can you ask for?

Well, time to go and pack that case!

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