We flew into San Francisco and I had no idea what time or day it was.
We’d been flying for what seemed like a lifetime, but the only memory I had of the flight was the insanely-helpful air stewards and the free tequila I got with my beer at the stop-over airport (I couldn’t even tell you which airport that was).
We were in San Francisco for a friend of Sylvie’s wedding. Ian and Jennine kindly invited me along and I met them for the first time at the airport, probably looking like hell and smelling of stale beer and cheap tequila – great first impression, I’m sure. It was late at night so we went to their house and climbed into a creaky old bed that pulled down from the wall, like they do in the movies. We were deep in the heart of Oakland, just outside of San Francisco and I was far too excited to sleep. We drifted off, eventually, but woke up at about 4am, ready to go see the sights of San Fran.
Jennine dropped us off at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market, near the port and as we stepped out of her car the cool sea-breeze hit me. The sky was crystal clear and people were out running, roller-blading, cycling or walking their dogs. I got that travel buzz you get when you realise that you are in the place you’ve been talking about for the previous few months. We were smack bang in beautiful San Francisco.
We wandered into the market, there were hipster food trucks lined up outside, with highly-energetic traders making sure that their customers were happy. After living in the UK and then Spain, it was a novelty to watch them take so much care with their customers. A stark contrast to the service I was used to receiving.
The smells of freshly baked bread and muffins wafted through the air and the scent of coffee got me in the mood for breakfast. Everything was displayed beautifully and every stall had something truly unique on offer, fish restaurants and fancy wine bars were preparing for their lunch menu specials and I really struggled to decide on where to eat. In the end I ate cream cheese bagels with bacon, and washed it down with a super-strength cappuccino, it cost a small fortune but I was amped and ready to tackle the day, at least I thought I was.
The Best Views in Town!
We had a guide book and decided to follow the map to a viewpoint which promised views over the city. As we walked through the colourful streets we were constantly greeted by homeless people who asked us “Howa’ ya’ doin’aday?” Yes, they were begging, but they did it with such joy and happiness. How could they be so polite, so happy, so courteous? Apparently that’s just the way they are – in San Francisco, even the street bums are living the dream.
Eventually we found the foot path that was far steeper than we had anticipated and realised that the jet-lag was beginning to set in. The sun was also higher in the sky and the temperature was bonkers. We started hiking regardless, we only had one day in San Francisco and I was constantly reminding us both that we had to make the most of it, ‘cos you know, YOLO!
Escape From Alcatraz!
The path took us past epic views of Alcatraz prison and through people’s gardens. We met a few cheery mail-men who ran up and down with endless energy and enthusiasm; “hey, good mornin!” It was like I was in a dream, and the dream was the happiest place on earth.
Seeing the Golden gate was such an awesome experience. You can see the bay, you can see teeny-tiny little ships moving slowly up and down the channel – you can see it all.
Beer, Burgers and Jet Lag
On getting to the top, we realised that we’d probably pass-out from lack of energy on the way back down. We were starving hungry again and decided to stop in the next bar that came our way. Of course, it was a sports bar, exactly how you’d imagine an American bar to look. They seem to try so hard to make it look old, to give it character, a history. We drank ice-cold bottles of Heineken and chowed-down on some steak sliders (which are basically little burgers) until Jeninne came to pick us up – I have no recollection of what happened during the remainder of that day and I never saw San Francisco again. But the rest of the trip was out of this world; a wedding in Napa Valley, Wine Country, driving along route 1 (AKA Pacific Coast Highway – Big Sur) and watching a live recording of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. More on this to come!