Sleep is overrated… especially when one gets home late, tries to downsize while packing and gets an airport pick-up at 3am. Olive’s alarm bark worked a treat. This driver was a Chatty Cathy, but he soon realised that his one-sided conversation was met with heavy eyelid responses… so he turned up the radio to LOUD instead.
I gained a few hours in San Francisco and started my day back in time. I was super early to check in, so I dumped my bags, applied more make-up and hit the streets. The quintessential chill in the breeze complimented the caffeine intake and I powered passed the Hayes Valley and dipped through the cusp of The Mission District, to Grooves record store (purchasing Mr Hendrix’s greatest hits along the way), and ducking into It’s Tops for my first all-American diner experience. I really wanted the burger, fries and old-fashioned milkshake in a tall fluted glass but there was no way that it could all possibly fit in.
The afternoon swept me through The Castro District. As I walked the streets under the rainbow flags, I was un-phased by the nude men lounging and spraying sunblock on their penises and giggled at the restaurant called ‘Sausage Factory’ and the nail bar named ‘Hand Job’; I was pleased to have found that there’s a place for everybody in the world and that naked gay men don’t want burnt peckers.
I treated myself to my first pedicure in a shade of brilliant flame red and the sit down in the beastly massage chair was most welcome. Dinner was at a swanky place on Divisadero called Nopa, where people mill about and queue to get their chance to squeeze in at the bar or in my case, the communal table. This means that you are forced to talk to people who are sitting on their own, looking as forlorn as you do. The cutest little old couple sat opposite me, sharing a pizza and eying up my squash soup. I offered them a sample and tried to engage in some kind of basic conversation across the table.
After a much needed great night’s sleep, I allowed myself plenty of time to find a taxi out to the Alcatraz ferry, as I had heard that San Fran taxis were a wee bit hard to come by. I became desperate with a half hour before boarding to go and asked for assistance in calling a taxi from the folks at In The Grove restaurant. Not only did the waiter wait on the street with me for 15 minutes trying to find my taxi, but the owner kindly offered to drive me to the pier. I made it with 1 minute to spare.
My tour first included national park Angel Island, before being dropped off at Alcatraz. As seemingly haunting as this was, I recommend booking the boat ride out there. Back on the mainland, I sidestepped the crowds at Fisherman’s Wharf and headed back to In The Grove for a heart-warming spinach and artichoke dip. I joined the Art Walk on Divisadero; went into my first comic book store (complete with a Simpson’s style comic book store guy), purchased several The Woman magazines printed in the late ‘40’s from a vintage shop after they enticed me with their article titles: Adventure At The Switchboard, What Every Woman Driver Should Know & Wind A Handsome Lampshade; and had my first solo drink at a bar.
On Friday I accidentally walked through places that I shouldn’t walk through on my own. But it was comforting to know that the tin-rattlers each wished me a nice day. Even on the bones of your arse exuding positivity is refreshingly wonderful, and I promptly put the life lesson in my top pocket. I filled up my day with a diner lunch, perusing Union Street boutiques and having cookies and goldfish crackers for dinner; before one of my best friend’s came to visit from Hong Kong, en-route to Central America.
The weekend was a blur of fun with my friend. We spent a lot of time in the Designer Shoe Warehouse in Union Square (all 3 floors of footwear holiness), chowing down on clam chowders at Fisherman’s Wharf and cheering for the San Francisco Giants between hotdogs, pretzels and beers at AT&T Park. Our friend had given us a task list to complete and we were slowly making our way through it. Our night out in North Beach left us with our old mate Hangover, for our final San Fran day.
As the weariness followed us around for our last day, we managed to fill it with shopping, massages, visiting the Golden Gate and feasting on super-sized meals. Then we bade our farewells with each other and with San Francisco. This, my friends, has been a fling with The States and I want to go back for more. The best part of the journey is that I fulfilled a dream and did it by myself! To my friend’s that hosted me, you have a special place in my heart.