While we waited for our room...

Trip Start Aug 24, 2012
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Trip End Sep 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
The Handlery Union Square

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, August 24, 2012

What's the first thing a person feels like after a fourteen hour flight in which they barely slept because they just couldn't find a way to contort their six foot frame into the five inches of leg room in economy?

Why, a twenty kilometer hike through the hilliest streets of San Francisco, that's what!!!

Well, actually, a shower, some fresh clothes, and most importantly, a toothbrush is probably the correct answer, but as we arrived into the city at just after twelve to be abruptly informed that our room wouldn't be ready until after three, there werent many options available to us.

So what began as a simple stroll to Westfield to grab Shane his first decent coffee since leaving Australia became an all out trek in smelly plane clothes, with our soft winter feet blistering in our Havaianas (no summer callouses yet). If it wasn't for the bags of gourmet gluten free goodies I'd just purchased at the wonderful Bristol Farms Market (naturally this foodie couldn't last very long without some snacks), we could easily have been mistaken for one of the many homeless people who populate the streets of the city. I actually pity anyone who has to come within sniffing distance of our breath...

We made our way through the bustling streets of Chinatown, where Shane complained of a smell similar to a dead person's behind. It's possible he was smelling himself, but I think he was actually inhaling the pungent aroma of dried mushrooms, piled high in crates outside many of the teeny shops.

That odour soon faded into the smelly feet tang of Parmesan cheese, as the streets of China gave way to a row of little Italian restaurants, the light posts all painted red, white and green. Shane was salivating at this point, begging me to stop. But I was on a mission, because over the tops of the buildings I could see something penetrating proudly into the sky.

Coit Tower.

The cylindrical tower set up high on San Fran's skyline was one highlight we'd missed from our previous adventure, so I dragged Shane onwards. The sun beat down upon our unprotected necks and shoulders, but still we walked.

At this point I should probably mention that we were still lugging the shopping bag of fruit, cereal and a very heavy bottle of water. Well, Shane was (although In my defence I did try to relieve him of it... He must have had a sudden chivalrous urge).

So we traipsed onwards and upwards.

And there is was. A crossway, and our choice. To our right, up a steep street and even steeper mountain, the giant Coit. To our left, off in the almost imperceptible distance, Lombard Street's crazy twists and turns.

I'd imagined that we would easily be able to view both in the same afternoon. I mean, on a map (a nice, flat, paper map) they didn't look all that far apart, really. But factor in the dizzying, knee trembling inclines and declines of San Fran, and it becomes a whole other story.

So Coit Tower, you will have to wait until another day.

Lombard Street, until today, had been a computer graphic in a downhill mountain bike racing game I'd enjoyed as a kid. Today it burst into technicolour reality, complete with delightlful weatherboard houses crawling with purple vines, and riotous blossoms competing for space in the gardens that line the world's crookedest street.

Of course we approached from the low end. By the time we'd hiked to the actual attraction, we were panting, and my legs were like jelly. Not from the steep climb, no. From the steep drop that stole my breath when I turned back to look where we had come from.

But I wasn't letting my vertigo assail me. We'd walked this far, we must climb the crooked street and gaze back upon the city.

The view alone more than made up for it.

So, after traipsing about the city, we made our way towards Fisherman's Wharf for a well deserved late lunch and a cable car ride back over the mountain.

If we thought we needed a shower before we set out, imagine how we felt on our return. Never has a tiny bathroom with very poor water pressure felt so inviting!

At least there's no chance of jetlag keeping us awake tonight...

PS... I know Huggtopus is missing from today's musings - he was just a little tired from his long plan ride, and decided to take a rest with our luggage rather than accompany us. I'm sure he'll be in fine form again tomorrow, and as eager as we will be for what the morning holds...
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