Friday, 25 February 2011

My visit to Bodega

Finally, a dream come true. To visit Bodega Bay seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I discovered a tourist web site offering a day visit to Bodega and the surrounding Sonoma Coast for a minimum of $500 per person. My dream of visiting Bodega finished right there. A few days before I arrived in San Francisco my good friend, Randy, offered to drive me to Bodega so I could fulfill my wish of seeing where The Birds was filmed.

The day started early (there was no way I was going to sleep in) catching up with Randy and driving to Bodega. It was a fun drive, from San Francisco catching up with our lives and the latest goings on with Hollywood celebrities past and present. The weather wasn’t very co-operative and it started raining on the drive to Bodega. I wasn’t too concerned, you don’t see a lot of blue sky in The Birds. The weather made it more atmospheric. Before I knew it, Randy said, “there’s the church!” At that moment the rain stopped. We were then driving up the same road towards the school house just as Melanie Daniels did! I was so excited but was trying desperately to keep it controlled and not freak Randy out. Needless to say, standing in front of the school house was pretty awesome and naturally I wanted to be attacked by any passing pigeon.

The school house (now a private residence) in 2010

Walking past where the schoolyard play equipment used to be, it's now covered with trees. Sadly there's no bench to sit on either.

The Jungle Gym in the school yard was once at this location.

However, a very odd moment was glimpsing a few bird cages in the yard. Luckliy, I'm easily impressed!

I wandered the street, totally in awe of being there. The house where Annie Hayworth lived was a facade built for filming , however a new stands there today.

The Annie Hayworth House (technically a facade)

The new house stands at the Annie Hayworth location

The home opposite is seen briefly as Melanie Daniels gets into her car. Again, it’s as if time has stood still. The house opposite the Hayworth facade

The same house in 2010

The original Druids Hall (only seen briefly) is now an antique store.

Druids Hall is now an antique store

There’s (I’m going to call it a Hitchcock museum) but it’s probably better described as a general store with Hitchcock items. The man who runs the store guessed pretty quickly why Randy and I were there. He promptly turned on a DVD of The Birds for us. It did feel super exciting seeing The Birds on the TV and looking out the window towards the schoolhouse. There were some wonderful items for sale and I could have purchased them all.

Next stop was lunch at The Tides. Yes, The Tides.

Although it’s been remodeled a few times I was impressed to see some Birds lobby cards inside the entrance. You now pass a huge Bodega souvenir shop where Randy promised me I’d find some Birds related items. Bodega is a small fishing community and naturally The Tides sells a lot of seafood in their menu. Not being a lover of seafood I chose a cheeseburger and promptly souvenired a Tides placemat as a memento.

Of course, the one thing any Birds fan wants to see outside The Tides is a gas station and phone box.

In the movie, these were standing sets at Universal Studios in Hollywood. BUT, across the street from The Tides is a gas station! AND a phone box! Seeing a phone booth, a gas station AND The Tides was pretty nifty.

You can make out the "S" of the Tides in the distance

Sitting in The Tides you can see across the bay towards where the Brenner farm house was. We went for a drive around to visit the location. The actual property burnt down in the late 1960’s and the land is now owned by the Government but I snapped a photo of where the Brenner facade stood.

The former location of the Brenner home...the trees remain.

Then it was off to visit Taylor Street, another street seen in The Birds. There’s two locations seen in The Birds. Bodega and Bodega Bay. If the children had run from the school to The Tides they probably would have died from a heart attack. It’s a good six miles between the two locales. So, if you see the children running with the school behind them, they’re on Bodega Lane in Bodega. If you see the children running towards The Tides, they’re on Taylor Street in Bodega Bay. Ahh the magic of movies!

Running on Taylor Street in Bodega Bay

Taylor Street in 2010

Another location is the farm house Lydia visits. It's not too hard to see the trees still standing (although one farm house looks like another). In the movie it's Dan Fawcett's farm but it's still good to see it's still a farm property.

The farm property in 1962

The same farm property in 2010

I still can't belive that Bodega is the same as it looked in 1962 when The Birds filmed. It's well worth checking out if your ever in Northern California.