Small and Beautiful.
I wrote the first paragraph for this blog in an instant and then I sat and looked at it for a good hour without typing a word and I realised something before deleting it. No one cares, Will! I got too close to the edge talking about me and my feelings instead of concentrating on why I travel and why people actually may chose to read about it. Travel is our escape from the everyday physical and emotional chores of life, an opportunity to step out of the box for a moment in time. It is an achievable dream for every single one of us whether it be a married couple seeking a weekend away from the children, a family going on holiday which is all about the children, mates heading off to get drunk on the other side of the Atlantic together or, people who feel the need to bugger off and push themselves personally. The beauty of the box is, we can step out of it, but the lid back on and put it high upon a shelf until we have to come back to it. The trick is, is to make sure the bloody lid goes on! So with that firmly in my mind, lets get back to why I write this blog; the ‘fun-damentals’ of travelling and, the fact it gives my Mum peace of mind!
Incredibly the last time I was in America was eight years ago, almost to the day. Trucking and combining through the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Montana and Washington state. It left me with with a better understanding of why American politics is like it is. I could elaborate on this but a friend from Texas only yesterday told me that I hated these places which is a completely false statement. I had a fantastic time out there and met some great people. As with any truly great place, it’s character provides a uniqueness unlike any other. I have always wanted to get to the East and West coasts of America to experience the other side of the coin and although I can only compare four days with four months I have been surprised by the similarities! San Francisco isn’t full of huge gas guzzling trucks but it does have her fair share of gas guzzling BMW’s, Jaguars, Corvettes and, Range Rovers. The church isn’t the main influence over the community, tech start-ups are, pouring money into the city but also driving up property and rental values for people not so lucky to invent Air B&B and the likes. This is mere coincidence I’m sure but the fact remains, San Francisco is the only city where I have witnessed people sitting in a street door at 3pm, shooting up heroin. I was merely passing by on a tourist bus. So what is my point? Someone who truly believes that a mass shooting is part of God’s plan cannot be judged by a person who has invented something to help save the world while driving around in a Range Rover Sport and…. vice versa. California is undoubtedly a world leader in science and technology but unfortunately the age old order of money and religion continues to prevail. This isn’t an American problem, it’s a world problem.
Of course there is good reason for why San Francisco is so appealing. Squeezed into an area of only seven miles by seven miles it has a surprisingly towny feel. It’s easy to get around on foot, there’s ample space to go running or jump on a bicycle and the whole city benefits form the beauty of it’s surroundings. It is best described as America’s Sydney. Food portions are still huge, as they were in the central states. I always take great pride in clearing a plate of food, I hate wasting it but in America it’s almost impossible not to leave food although, I have fell onto a technique. Eat only two meals a day. Anyone who knows me will not believe me but I have easily got by on two meals a day during my time here. Breakfast as ever has been amazing here. A small little cafe that could only sit twenty people and was always full, the kitchen was literally in the dining room, the electrical sockets were hanging off the wall with suspicious stains abound but, the food was superb. Two muffins layered with chunks of Turkey, avocado, tomato and topped with a mixture of scrambled egg, spring onions and melted cheese. What definitely reminded you that you were in California was that there was an option of getting a small bowel of fruit instead of the hash brown as the side. I happily went for the fruit, blueberries, strawberries, honey dew melon, raspberries and grapes. It was a glorious example of American excess balanced out a little with something healthy. In a similar way, you are fed ad-lib water from the moment you arrive at your table along side ad-lib coffee. It is also worthy of note that the beer in San Francisco is incredible. I had heard about microbreweries sweeping across America but now I can confirm that some excellent beers are available. This wasn’t a place to visit and drink only one popular local beer which, tastes like every other popular local beer in the world. No Sir, this was a place where you forgot the name of the last beer you had because there would be a whole host of new refreshing beers at the next bar or restaurant.
As for things to see in San Francisco, well….. I got around it all in a day. If I had been better planned I could have made it three days. The Golden Gate Bridge is a constant feature and like any such National Icon it is impressive. I was hoping to wonder across it but as I was already wet through from boating underneath it which, was spectacular enough that I decided I would settle on that. Similarly with Alcatraz, I managed a drive-by on a boat but I didn’t get to go on the island. Tickets are booked up months in advance. The boat trip was a good decision mind, they always offer a different perspective to a city should there be enough water available to take out a boat! I then partook in an activity I don’t ever recall doing before now, an open top bus tour. I did two in fact. One which took us down town and was hosted by a British tour guide and, one which took us to the bridge, the park, down some awesome street, towards down town and then back to the Wharf which, was hosted by a guide from Philadelphia. It was alright. The standout for me which surprises me because I usually don’t care for such things was the ‘awesome street’, otherwise known as Haight Street. The centre of hippy culture, it’s bit like driving through an Austin Powers set. Poor example I know but the street is as stereotypical as you can get and I loved it for that reason. Full of colour, full of culture, full of stores that were full of crap but, those very stores were a fancy dress mecca plus, we all know people who love quirky stuff from the olden days and these very stores would keep them in birthday and Christmas gifts to the end of time.
One icon I missed out on was the cable car. I saw them but I didn’t make chance to ride one. This I shall use as a perfect excuse to return one day, with mates, sampling every beer we can find, touring wine country and, forcing down at least three huge meals a day!