A Warm Welcome in Chilly San Francisco

Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
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Trip End Nov 02, 2010


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Where I stayed
Steve & Karen's, Belmont

Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The flight from Honolulu on United was uneventful- no free food or alcohol; ageing soccer mom hostesses; one movie on the big screen and I'd already seen it. Welcome to economy flights in the U.S.!

Our Affordable Travel contact Steve picked us up very smartly and whisked us to his house in Belmont. We really appreciated his kindness remembering our nightmare in Honolulu. Steve and his wife, Karen were awesome in their kindness and welcome. The next day Steve drove us all around San Francisco, beginning with a trip to the coast. Unbelievably, San Fran was cold, recalling the famous quote by Mark Twain- "The coldest winter I ever had was a summer in San Francisco."

Having grown up in Hawaii and having surfed as a youth, Steve went out of his way to take us to the famous big wave location, Mavericks. Here the water is about 13 degrees, the temperature 15 with a wind chill factor that made it feel another 8 degrees colder, and it's spring!
  
  This surf break which can rival any big wave spot in the world remained a secret for more than 15 years despite being on the outskirts of a major American city. The only guy to surf it was Jeff Clark who has now established a surf shop there. Apparently no one believed his stories of 30' waves! These days it is a major big wave location and the place where legendary Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo tragically was lost  despite many other surfers,jet skis and even a rescue helicopter attempting to find him. I bet he died of cold! The place is ridiculously dangerous with its cold water, howling winds, gnarly rocks and raging rips. 

The next attraction was the Golden Gate Bridge. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary of how it was built, take it. It is one of the world's engineering marvels. We would have walked across but the cold prohibited it. Needing lunch we headed for Fisherman's Wharf. What a scene!
 
There were lots of tourists & seagulls & musicians everywhere -one group with a fabulous sax player & one group with steel kettle drums & a guy encouraging passersby to dance with him, while he sang "You sexy thing." I declined!
There were 'Segway Tour Groups' & trolley buses passing by. (A segway is an electric conveyance for one, that looks like a pogo stick with large wheels! Missed the photo op, I'm afraid.))
The boat to Alcatraz was at the wharf.
The air was full of the smell of San Francisco sourdough from Boudins bakery (woe is me!)
Peter & Steve ate rather expensive crab salad from the first stall; I went '2 streets back' & got a big serve of prawns for 1/2 the price. What was that title again?

After lunch we walked down the street to the Cannery, a beautiful old building turned shopping complex that seems to have been hit by the GFC, & had an icecream ( San Fran's best, apparently) & then up the hill to Ghirardelli's, where you can see their original chocolate making machines in action.

Later on Steve and Karen took us to a newly opened Indian restaurant which was great, especially for Dorothy who loves curry so much that she eats it for breakfast at home, and Karen told us about the education cut-backs in California due to the Global Financial Crisis. She is a gun librarian at the local elementary school who really goes out of her way to interest and encourage the kids- at the time she was growing silk worms to promote an understanding of fabrics, a subject she was passionate about since she is a gifted quilt maker- and she and 7 other teachers and support staff were being laid off for next year! That is approximately 20% of the school's staff! It wouldn't happen in Australia without all teachers going on strike. There and then I was glad I hadn't cancelled my Union fees even though I'm having a year off. And you know what? The only reason I've got the privilege to travel this year is because of a provision in my contract which was negotiated by the Education Union here in W.A. I'm sticking with the Union! It's a funny thing that America would rather spend billions of dollars bombing people from other countries for highly dubious reasons than educating their own children at a fraction of the cost. While we were in Hawaii they cut 17 days from their school year because they couldn't find $6 million when each new jet fighter costs in the vicinity of $250 million. And America is our role model? Give me a break!
 
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Comments

Jano on

I hear you Comrade! "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a cake stall to buy a bomber"

vayacondios
vayacondios on

Yeah Baby! Have you heard that Chris Rock Comedy sketch on "Bowling for Columbine" in which he says: "I'd like to see the day when bullets cost $5000 each! Imagine that! ' I'm goin' to go to college for 3 years ; get a good job; save up my money; pay off my debts; and then BLOW YOUR F*****"HEAD OFF YOU MOTHER******!"
But that's how it is with most successful politicitans- in order to deflect attention from domestic problems, they invent a target, unify public opinion by scapegoating some poor mugs, and then go for the kill. Hitler did it with the Jews; Stalin did it with those who opposed his totalitarianism; Thatcher did it with the Falklands War; Reagan did it with Russia and his "Star Wars" defence shield; both Bushes did it with Iraq; Howard did it with boat people...and guess what? All their respective peoples loved them for it!

Nat on

Hey guys. Hope you get to enjoy some chowder...minus the bread roll it comes in. I sympathise with you, Dorothy!And did you enjoy Alcatraz?Such an interesting place.If you get time, have a drink at the Red Room. It's a tiny bar underneath an art deco kinda hotel we stayed in right in the city. Everything...and I mean EVERYTHING...is red. The lights, the walls, the vinyl lounges, the drinks! Funky little place. Saw Dan at the beach just now. Despite the cold weather, he went for a dip in between a major altercation with the Dyson. He reckons he's undertaking a PhD in vacuum cleaner re-assembly! Happy travels!

Jenya on

Happy Mother's Day Doff! Sounds like you are both in your element enjoying all the places and interesting people on offer! Very interesting to hear of your adventures and fun. Love from Nen

luc on

Such a shame to hear what they are doing to the schools over there, scary to think the American people will get even less education before being let loose on the world....
And just quietly, that Dyson freaks me out! It's so hardcore! I think it's actually a transformer, plotting to take over the world or something!

Nat on

Hey Luc! Have you seen that movie "Idiocracy"? It's an America flick...supposedly a satire but the Yanks don't really do satire that well. I watched it and had nightmares for the next few weeks. Check it out in light of your comments about education. As for Dan & the Dyson...I saw them dancing in the torchlight then playing backgammon later so I think they have made ammends! Love to Gabe & Eli.

luc on

Hey Nat,
Is that the movie where the dumb army guy and the prostitute get frozen for 500 years and when they come out they are the smartest people in the world? I was trying to tell someone about it a couple weeks ago but couldn't remember the name. Definitely a very scary prospect - the electrolytes for the plants was quite funny though.

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