So after getting the Vegas essentials out the way, it was time to take a flight to San Francisco, the place I had the highest expectations for being one of the better places for food, culture, architecture, acceptance, forward thinking and also home to Silicone Valley too. Fortunately it didn’t disappoint, and I came across few homeless beggars in comparison to LA.
We left Vegas via McCarran airport and was amused that even inside the airport were slot machines, for those who want to empty any remaining dollars from their Vegas experience I guess. Flying our early morning Virgin America (which was pretty funky inside and largely empty – 10 passengers max) we arrived in SF at 8:30am to moved into the city to get our bearings, after some of the usual time wasted waiting for bags and me feeling like my head is going to explore as I had some strange cold blocking my sinuses which doesn’t merge well with descending compressed flying tubes.
We took the amusingly named BART train downtown and due to the amount of bags my wife insists on taking (totalling close to 70kg!) we had to get an elevator out of the train station. Inside the elevator, we was met by an unkempt man trying to bring his bicycle up via the elevator too. Just as he blocked the entrance to the elevator, we were overwhelmed by the stench of urine. Trapped inside the dried, fermented piss soaked metal box with a full size adult male weight’s worth of baggage, there was nothing to do but hold our breath and hope the thing just got us up the one floor and to the freedom of city air.
But alas, the door didn’t close. I immediately spotted the problem of some wiring thing blocking the door, but our unkempt and (seemingly low IQ) hero decided to try and fix it by banging his bike against it instead. I could barely breath due to my stubbornness against inhaling human waste so pointing out the obvious problem seemed to be difficult to do.
“Damn man” the man said. While banging at the door. We said nothing.
“Damn” he repeated.
“What the?” now hitting all parts of the door randomly.
“What’s going on?”
“This?” He finally looked down at the mysterious cable thing with spikes on it obviously blocking the elevator door from the start.
Then he started kicking the obstruction to clear it, which seemed to take forever when you’re holding your breath in a chamber Adolf Hitler would be proud of. Eventually he cleared it, and stated that it was probably a strip besides to go on walls to stop pigeons landing on there. A clever observation which made him go up in my estimation and explained the spikes.
“I’m not getting stuck in here” he said to us. We managed a smile back, but was more concerned in not rolling our bags in the puddle of piss in the corner or inhaling it’s fine all-American odour.
After an agonising 8 seconds or so more that the elevator took to go up a level, the man left and we quickly followed.
An argument followed. Harue declared her hatred for San Francisco, and I declared my hatred for carrying so much baggage around requiring the need for use of an elevator when there was a perfectly good set of stairs approximately 3.5 metres away from it. Said luggage also made me hastily agree to hailing a taxi to get to our hotel. Another no-no in backpacking travel in order to save money when staying inside a walkable city. *Sigh* What had become of me? I never saw a TV show with Bear Grylls or Les Stroud taking this sort of luggage out with them, I’m sure if we was in a plane crash Harue would still insist on taking it.
Anyway, we got in a taxi who didn’t have a clue where our hotel was. So although we gave him a street name and a number, he still insisted on pulling over for a bit to look out our map. As it turns out, you have to say the road your hotel is in, and the road closest that intersects with it to get anywhere with a taxi here. I’m not sure how that works as it just suggests the hotel could be in any direction/corner on the intersection. But anyway, when in Rome, and all that.
So the taxi driver drove us through an area called ‘Tenderloin’ which unlike it’s meaty name suggests, is not really tender at all. In fact there was a rather large queue of homeless people for something (free food from a homeless shelter as it turns out) which may have suggested I picked a hotel in the wrong area and prompted the silent treatment from Harue, which was nice for a few minutes anyway. Although I needn’t worry as the hotel was a little outside this area which we was promptly recommended to avoid as soon as we checked in at reception to the Hotel Carlton, which I would recommend, for the great staff if nothing else.
Baggage dropped off, coffee drunk, and a uninterested vague attempt at a plan finished, we headed out to see what we could find in the foggy city.