Limey

Limey

Monday, July 30, 2012

Heading West


With my final weekend at UNC coming to a close, it was time to get on with what I was truly wanting to do in the USA: travel! First stop, San Fun-sisco, California!

Leaving Chapel Hill at 4am was a bitch, but we managed, with Eshe flying out of the place she was staying with clothes still in her hands to be stuffed into bags in the car. At the airport there was further drama as Amy’s bag was over the weight limit, so excess shifted to mine. Good job I was packing light! It’s a long old way from East to West coast, and we had a stop in Cincinnati (no idea either!) en route, arriving in San Fran at like 9am Eastern time. Amy and I were booked into a different hostel from the others, and so left Eshe to find ours and link up later. Rising up from the metro station we had our first interaction with a SF resident. A professional skateboarder who is in the Airforce. And is homeless. Yeah, work that one out! Despite his craziness however he was incredibly helpful in directing us to the hostel and with a cheery wave hobbled off down the street with his walking stick. To go skateboarding. On a plane I would imagine…

Riding the tram
Eshe and Jon enjoying the endless hills
After dumping our stuff and going through all the paperwork rubbish needed to stay in a hostel we went to link up with Eshe, who was with Kim and Jon, two Manchester students who had been at Toronto University and now joining us for the road trip. From the Civic centre where we met we took the iconic SF tram up and down the incredibly steep hills towards Fisherman's Warf and a long anticipated seafood lunch.
The afternoon was spent wandering around the SF bay area, and it began to strike me how cool the city is. Before getting to SF I wasn’t actually that fussed about going there, but having got there and seen the place I'm so glad I went. It was such a vibrant and quirky place, with all the iconic SF things about it such as the hills, houses, trams, sun and sea. Wandering around the place we stumbled upon a random bar in the middle of a neighbourhood and stopped for a cheeky drink. The barman seemed thrilled to have a bunch of foreigners wander in, filling us in on all the places to go see in the city whilst we were there, including places that many tourists don’t bother going to. He was a genuinely nice guy, although very W. coast-ish with his prancing around and continuously saying ‘alright’ with a  clap of the hands. Damn west coasters… That evening we went for a drink on Market Street (one of the main trunk roads through the city). The place was a typical American bar, but nice enough, and gave Kim and Jon enough entertainment at the types in there. Anyone would have thought they had spent time in Canada or something… It was great getting to know the two of them, and they seemed pretty sound. Certainly happy to have them along for the adventures to be had in the next few weeks!

The iconic SF trams
Kim, Amy and Eshe
Looking South over the city
The next day was another wander around the city collecting sore feet, with a chance stumble upon the City Hall Market not far from the hostel Amy and I were staying in. It was an incredibly good find, as I had the best crepe ive had in a long time, found some amazing strawberries and was entertained by a drunk homeless guy attempting to play the harmonica. His tactic was unique to say the least by creeping up on women with another half with them and then launching into full song (I use that term loosely there…) until the guy got annoyed. The homeless guy would then slink away to repeat the routine 30seconds later. To the same person. I don’t think I need to mention his tactics wernt very profitable… That afternoon was spent upon a bike trekking to the iconic SF bridge and going over it. In 3 hours. No biggie there then! The ride was probably one of the best things Ive done in a while, with a phenomenal view of the bridge across the bay as we cycled towards it. The route itself wasn’t too bad, with only a couple of cheeky hills, especially up onto the actual bridge, but also plenty of flat bits for a bit of speed racing. Not that we did that of course being all mature and safety conscious… The ride was rounded off rather nicely with SF’s signature dish: clam chowder. Which is basically a bread roll hollowed out and filled with clam soup-type sauce. Perfect way to pile on the calories burnt off from the ride!  Though to be honest getting didn’t make me feel particularly SF-ian as we got it from a very angry shout-y Chinese man from a stall next to the pier. Ah well, was tasty at least!
The five of us with the SF bridge
SF's twisty-est road

That evening we wandered up into little Haight for a drink or two, on the recommendation of the bar man from the day before. I have to say it wasn’t a bad shout as the place was a bit more local and had a quirky feel to it. The bar we ended up in had stable style doors (maybe to test who was drunk and couldn’t get into the place?!), a very large and very tattooed barman and one hell of a selection of beer and cider on tap. Perfect! Although confusion did reign when Amy tried to pay for her drink by card only to be told they don’t accept cards (fair enough), the barman didn’t own a card (eh?) and it was San Francisco baby (right…). Is that considered to be part of the land of the free then…?


Town Hall in the Dusk
The five of us with Alcatraz
SF was one cool city, and I loved the iconic and quirky-ness that it seemed to have. Having said that, it hasn’t quite grown on me yet, and I think I prefer the cities of the South. Having said that it was a great two days spent in the city, and a perfect way to start the summer of adventure!

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