Deer oh Deer!

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Lisa's house

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, July 25, 2011

"A deer distracted us". Famous last words? Almost as poor an excuse as accusing your most loyal friend of eating your homework. Tut-tut! But that was the real reason we almost missed the bus leaving Lisa's house.
 
One of the best things about travelling is meeting people from across the world and meeting them again elsewhere in the world! This greatly enriches our experience in this life...
 
While frolicking in Cuba in early 2009 we met fellow frollickers, Lisa and Tara. We stayed in touch via good ol' Facebook and when we got to San Fran, Lisa kindly offered her place in leafy Mill Valley to crash. Sadly our arrival coincided with her departure. But at least we got to see her for one day! Sweetie pie, Ray (Lisa's housemate) welcomed us with a warm hug and orientated us in Lisa's absence. His dogs, Sequoia and Kinga, also welcomed us with doggie affection, including a concerted lick of Mario's head! She must've thought: "Ew, salty!" cos she never tried it again!
 
I had positive recollections of my 24 hours in San Fran back in January 2000. Merle and I did a Trek-America trip from Miami to San Fran after completing our year as au pairs. I recall wishing I had more time there, so I was excited to be back! Now if only we knew that SF has a late summer; it only warms up properly in late August. So...
 
Everyday we donned our jeans, jumpers and trainers. Aargh! Quite an adjustment after being spoilt with 30+ degrees in LA and San Diego. Every evening the fog rolled in for the night shift, relieving the clouds from duty. Often it was hard to tell the difference between the two, but both meant poor to zero visibility of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Our patience paid off though. We finally got good shots on our last day in town!
 
Couchsurfing is big in San Fran, so big that there's a social event almost every night. We attended our first, and Bo joined us too. It was pleasant and civil. A lot less raucaus than we were led to believe (!) but I guess you are more likely to hear about the extremes. No dancing on the tables?? ;) We made a few buddies, and learned a bit more about the movement and how to get more involved. A few more people now know that we are REAL and we are who we say we are. Hopefully we'll actually get to surf soon!
 
SF is a big city but its extensive public transport system makes it a lot more accessible than LA. Being savvy travellers we quickly figured out the cheapest (albeit, the slowest) ways to get around. For example, we took the worker bees' bus for $2 from the airport into town and the Golden Gate transit for $3.80 each to get us over the bridge to Mill Valley where Lisa lives. Compare that to the estimated $70 cab ride! One day we tried to the alternative way to cross the bay, the ferry to Sausalito but alas, that day was foggy too!
 
We found this city to be vibrant and varied, with loads of minority quarters. There's an authentic and big Chinatown with real Chinese people (!), Chinese writing everywhere, old people chilling on the steps and animals hung in the restaurant windows. It felt like we were back in Hong Kong!
 
Other minorities are also represented: there's a Japantown, Little Italy, Castro (gay) district, Mission (Latino) district, Russia Hill, and even Nob Hill! I bet we all know a few who belong there! We ticked most of the tourist boxes like: Golden Gate bridge - tick! Pier 39 (waterfront with shops and performers) - tick! Lombard street, "the world's crookedest street" - tick! 
But we also ventured slightly off the well-beaten path, visiting a beach where locals fly kites and rip the decks from the back of a U-haul van. Hilarious! 

One night we hung out with locals in Sausalito's "Bar with No Name" where they play live music every night. That's where we met Aaron and his dad, Vern. We joined them at their table and ended up chatting for the rest of the night. Aaron is the drummer for "Rupa and the April Fishes" and Vern is a retired lecturer of African-American studies. He now runs whalewatching trips from Sausalito where he lives on a houseboat. We arranged to meet Aaron the following night at his haunt in the Mission District, a little bar that plays live music. That night violinists entertained us and we met Aaron's interesting Venezuela's buddies.
 
Overall, SF was good. The weather plays such a big part in one's experience of a city, and I guess the fog made the city seem a little meh at first... But people (and animals!) play an even bigger part! Thanks to each of you who added a special sparkle to SF and made our stay a memorable one!
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