Day one, take two...

January 29, 2008 - San Francisco, California, United States

My wishes were granted. No babies near me on the plane from Auckland to San Francisco; in fact, there were lots of empty seats, so after chatting to a nice couple from Denver, I managed to grab the three middle seats in front of me, and attempted somewhat unsuccessfully to turn them into a bed. Anyway, the flight was quicker than expected, the movies were current and the food was great, so it was a good start to my trip.

Jo's plane arrived the same time as about three others, so she was caught up in a crowd of about 2000 people trying to get visas into the US. My plane went to a different gate and there were only eight people in front of me in my queue, so I was through the visas/customs and baggage within about half an hour of landing. I crossed over the international date line somewhere between New Zealand and San Francisco, and my plane landed before I took off in Melbourne, so it was groundhog day-time as Jo and I got to re-live Sunday, 27 January. Meanwhile, I really should have paid more attention when it came to resetting my new digital watch...

We managed to navigate the BART train system, and found our way to our hostel without a wrong turn. Very, very glad I opted for the backpack with the wheels. It weighed in at a bit over 23kg - about a third heavier than I was aiming for - and San Francisco really does have a lot of hills!

Our twin share hostel room is quite comfy, and real luxury compared to the normal backpacker dorms I'm used to in Australia. There's free breakfast and internet access, and we stumbled over the $5 dinners tonight. Definitely a nice way to ease into the trip.

Jo and I have overcome jet lag by doing what girls do best, and spending the best part of the last two days shopping! Bloomingdales, Macy's, H &M and heaps of others - mainly window shopping, although Jo found a little black dress today, for the grand total of about A$11, what a bargin! Still looking for the elusive white shirt for me and a rain coat for Jo.

We spent a lot of today wandering around Fisherman's Wharf, a very touristy part of San Francisco. We jumped on a MUNI tram and checked out the sites along the way, then rode one of the famous cable cars back this afternoon. The weather has been worse than Melbourne; yesterday it rained and today the wind was really chilly, especially when we were near the water. We stepped back in time and had our fortunes read at a museum housing arcade games and amusements, then reminisced about 1994 with a visit to the Bubba Gump Shop, aka Forrest Gump. Photos to follow.

First impressions of San Francisco are somewhat mixed; the shopping is great and there is lots to do. There are plenty of art galleries and life seems good for many, but there are lots of homeless people who constantly approach you for money, often in the guise of giving advice to tourists which is difficult to decline politely (we're getting better at it). The weather is really hard to dress for because the shops and hostel are warm but the streets are freezing - to be expected though, considering it's winter. We're also still getting used to paying more for everything than the price advertised on the docket because tax is added at the point of sale. So, two $2 hot chocolates cost $4.32. Only in America. (Incidently, the hot chocolates were worth it.)

We're going to see what the weather is like tomorrow before we decide what to do; Alcatraz is on the list for some stage this week and we also want to check out some art galleries and murals in a suburb called the Mission. Then there's a tour of a chocolate shop and a walk along the crookedest street in San Francisco.


Life is like a box of chocolates
The famous pier, now taken over by seals
Pier 39 merry-go-round
Jo on the cable car


January 29, 2008
I presume you'll go up to Haight-Ashbury, and Castro, and have a wander round.

If I were in San Francisco, I'd have to hire a car and retrace the car chase from the movie Bullitt, but I suppose that's a petrolhead thing...
January 30, 2008
Congrats on making it across the ocean! : )

I hope you have a good time in San Fran, and continue to have an easy time around the US! Ngoc says that Gap and Esprit should be cheap in San Francisco too, since (apparently) that's where they came from in the first place. She also tells me Chinatown is cool. : )

Take care!
January 31, 2008
Thanks Mike. Jo and I have checked out GAP and it's subsidiary Old Navy; very cool, and yes, quite cheap.
We're off to Mexico next, but Jo will be back to see New York in April.
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