Sleepless in San Fran!

Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
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Trip End Jun 26, 2010


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Where I stayed
Emma & Olivers
Caitlin & Jack

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, August 29, 2009



I arrived in San Fran after a unexpectedly uneventful Greyhound bus trip and went to Emma & Olivers place which is located on Alamo square and is next to several colourfully painted buildings aptly named the "Painted Ladies". Emma is a family friend of mine from Sydney and is a script writer while her husband Oliver works for an advertising agency. It was a beautifully hot day and that afternoon we went to a food festival in Oakland in which a friend of Oliver's was debuting her falafel bus. We sampled many interesting foods which we washed down with taster jars of microbrew beer. It was refreshing to experience some decent beer in the US or a change from the East coast where they don't seem to really appreciate the amber liquid. However it was a bit expensive at $5 per jar sample and were probably less than half a pint in volume. That evening we went back into san Fran and went to the Mission district and has some tasty vietnamese food.

The next day I experienced my first day of proper San Fran summer weather when the mists rolled in from the Pacific ocean transforming the city into a cold and foggy realm. But what better weather than to visit an art gallery, so that afternoon I met my friends Caitlin and Jack at the San Fran MOMA and enjoyed the worls of many artists including the photographs of Richard Avedon who's portraits of the famous (and not so famous) have captured so much of his subject's. I met Caitlin and Jack whilst living in London, and they had moved to San Fran with Jack's work as he works for Barclays Capital in technology whilst Caitlin is a travel writer. Checkout her travel blog at:
www.roamingtales.com (food and travel blog)

The following day I caught a ferry to sausilito which took me past Alcatraz prison and the Golden Gate bridge. As you've probably realised by now I'm too much of a cheapskate to pay to actually go in the prison so the trip in the ferry was the closest I'd get. Sausilito was a nice bay village which apparently has some nice restaurants and cafe's but since the next ferry wasn't due for an hour and a half I decided to go straight back. One bonus on getting off the ferry is that I could take a free metro transfer which enables the holder to a journey going away from the ferry terminal to be used within 90 minutes and one journey going towards the ferry terminal to be used within 24 hours. So I then went across to the Pacific ocean, bought half a BBQ'd checken and a roll and had a lovely evening meal watching the sun set over the Pacific. The return part of the metro transfer worked very nicely in getting me back to Emma & Oliver's place.

Since Emma had some stress with her current script writing assignment I thought it best not to outstay my welcome and thus moved to Caitlin & Jack's place which was a fairly short tram ride away. After awaiting collection of their new dishwasher on wheels, Caitlin and I headed down to the farmers market at the ferry building where we bought some great fresh fruit and cheese, afterwhich I am not ashamed to say I went tramspotting as we both took some great photos of all the historic trams which still run on one line in San Fran. The especially great thing is that San Fran has collected trams from different eras and from all over the world so I even to got see a Melbourne tram. That evening Caitlin cooked a lovely meal and Jack was like a little kid as he opened his new portable dishwasher which he then got working.

The following day was surprisingly nice and Caitlin and I went to Golden Gate Park via Haight Street. The west end of Haight street houses some very interesting clothes shops as well as other interesting boutiques. On our bus journey there I was harassed by freak on bus as he wanted to get right in front of the doors as he was getting off the bus at the next stop. I was not inclined to move until the bus stopped as I would be shoving other people around and politely told him that I would move for him when the bus stopped. This was not good enough and he continued to get more angry and agitated. I really shouldn't antagonise people but now it was a matter of principle so I stood my ground and just as the bus was stopping I moved aside by sliding in between two people, this resulted in his attempted barge to be a more embarressing stumble as he fell out of the bus. It still makes me smile as I remember his bitter glare back at me as he stormed away. Definitely a few sandwiches short of a picnic that one. After enjoying a picnic in the park we then went to the California Science Museum which was absolutely awesome. It has some pretty cool stuff of which we only had time to see part of but what I did manage to see was some beautiful small sharks & rays, and an awe inspiring vision of the universe in their state of the art digital planetarium. When they take us up from the surface of the earth and into the atmosphere into space it almost gives you virtigo! On our way back home on the bus we met this black kid who was on the run from the law with a very cool smoking device (see the picture!). That evening Caitlin, Emma, Jack and I had an amazing meal at a restaurant called Flour + Water. Myself, Caitlin and Emma managed to choose some very tasty dishes which we shared, unfortunately Jack who is vegetarian constrained himself to his own feast. I have to say that San Franciscan's are very keen on food and not just any food, they are particularly fond of good fresh produce. I also had one of the best coffee's ever at a chain (no less!) called Blue Bottle. They do amazing coffee and the three outlets I went by always had queues.

The next day I was to leave San Fran much to my disappointment as I had really enjoyed the place and the general vibe. It seems to have incorporated some of the more crazy people of the US, yet still be so the most non-US (some say "European") city in America. However I was to make my first (and hopefully only) mess up with my departures. I thought my Greyhound bus to Las Vegas was to leave at 6.30 AM but in fact it didn't leave until 6.30 PM. This I didn't realise until I had made it down to the bus station and was waiting to pick up my ticket. Upon the dawn of realisation (and the sun) I thought the best thing to do was to leave my backpack at left luggage (which wasn't that cheap dammit!) and go have breakfast. After summing up what I should do I remembered there was a Barnes & Noble bookstore at the other end of the waterfront from the Ferry terminal - near the Fishermans wharf which I hadn't explored yet. So I craftily pretended to be a commuter who had forgotten to get his metro transfer and walked back into the ferry terminal exit just after a ferry was unloading and picked up a free transfer (there & back!). I then use the transfer to get down to the Fishermans wharf and back again later that day. Now I know some of you are you thinking that's stealing, well yes it is, but hey I'm backpacking and need the dollars. The rest of my days was fairly quiet although I did enjoy free Wifi at Barnes & Noble and also enjoyed browsing this awesome book store. Fishermans wharf was also interesting with many old boats and boating equipment, but the area itself has become a tourist hotspot and so is swamped with tacky souvenir and fast food places. I did see seals though - apparently they hang out waiting for fish scraps from the fishing boats.
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