I was born there. No I wasn't, actually: I just felt like saying that. The last time I was in San Francisco was almost 7 years ago, and it's even more beautiful than I remember it. So much greenness, so much hilliness, and such a beautiful bay and bridge! This time, I spent a good 7 nights in the city, with 3 days being spent relaxing and cycling, and the other 4 days being spent at DrupalCon, down in lovely Sunnyvale.
Lovely, hilly San francisco.
Forbidding Alcatraz: I’ll get there… one day.
Golden Gate bridge: even nicer than the bridge I got me back home.
Had a random reunion here at the Green Tortoise: bumped into Karl from London, who I last saw back in Mérida, in south-eastern Mexico. After Mérida, Karl continued on to Cancun (while I went to Valladolid, then Playa, then Tulum), where he was hoping to revel in the heat of Spring Break.
Tonight at the Green Tortoise, I played my first-ever game of Beer Pong. The aim of this game is simple: throw a ping-pong ball in one of the cups at the other end of the table from you. If your team gets a ball in one of the cups, then the other team has to drink the beer in that cup. If your team breaks any rules, then you have to drink the beer in one of your own cups. The first team to empty all the other team's cups wins. The better you do, the longer you go without getting completely drunk. My team (of 2) managed to get through the first round (knockout tournament), but we got beaten in the second.
The Green Tortoise is in the middle of Chinatown, and I've been taking advantage of the good food around here already. I had a nice Chinese lunch yesterday, and I grabbed another nice Chinese meal for dinner this evening. But on both occasions, all the Asian folk around me were given chopsticks, and I was given a spoon and fork. Apparently, unlike back home in Sydney — where everyone gets chopsticks, unless they request otherwise — here in America, non-Asians are assumed to be both chopstick-illiterate and chopstick-a-phobic, and are by default not given them. I guess that this is an interesting and a sad indication of the cultural differences between the United States and Australia.
The weather was kind enough to clear up this afternoon, which meant that I had the perfect opportunity to take my hired bicycle out for a big ride. Having recovered sufficiently from my accident this morning, I felt up to a ride around the bay. From the Green Tortoise, I rode down to the Embarcadero (the road that hugs the northern shoreline of the city-slash-peninsula), and went west along it, until I reached the Golden Gate Bridge. I then rode over the bridge, cruised down to the lovely town of Sausalito, and continued all the way around the bay, to Tiburón, from where I caught a ferry back to SF's Embarcadero.
I hired a bicycle yesterday, and this morning — despite the weather still being rather sub-optimal — I decided to take it out for a spin. Turns out that this wasn't such a smart move. About 5 minutes into my first ride of San Francisco, I rode over a messy intersection of cable-car tracks in the road, and my bike simply toppled over. As a passer-by said to me, "when they get wet, those tracks are deadly, they turn into black ice". Fortunately, I wasn't going very fast at the time, and neither myself nor the bike were seriously injured. But I did get a bit of a flesh wound, on my left palm and my left knee (some of the usual suspects in bike prangs).
I can understand that hiring a laptop is not the most common thing in the world these days. After all, why would you hire a laptop when it's so cheap to just buy one? And if you're going overseas and you need a laptop when you get there, why not just bring your own? But I would have thought that despite these things, there would still be enough demand to make it reasonably easy to find places that rent laptops. Especially in the San Francisco bay area, which is one of the most hi-tech and online places in the world. Considering what a hard time I had finding a laptop hire service, I guess not.
It's pretty cold and pretty rainy here in San Francisco today. And that feels really weird to me. I got so spoilt in Mexico! After a month of almost constant sun and warmth, I've virtually forgotten what it's like to feel cold. But now I remember how it feels: crap. Anyway, I'm going to have to get used to it, because almost everywhere else I'm going on my trip is probably going to be fairly cold. Including my next stop, Vancouver.
I found this place from the Rough Guides online accommodation directory, and boy, is it good! Although it's surrounded by strip clubs, it's in a good downtown spot, it's got great people, it's got free dinner 3 nights a week, it's got free Wi-Fi, and it's got bike racks inside! I tell you what: there are some things you can only find in California. Despite it being rainy when I got here, I think this really is the Sunshine State.
I was already mising Spanish when I touched down in San Francisco airport; but I wasn't missing it for long, because when I jumped on a shuttle bus into the city, both the driver and my fellow passenger were fluent Spanish speakers! The driver was an immigrant from El Salvador, and the other lady on the bus must have learnt it at some point. ¡Bienvenidos a Los Estados Unidos de America, amigo!
This flight was even longer than my flight a month earlier, from Los Angeles to Mexico City: today's flight took me a good 4.5 hours. Because I had to get up at 3:30am to make it this morning, I was absolutely dog tired; unfortunately, though, it was too sunny for me to get any shut-eye on the plane. This United flight was quite pleasant: I had some friendly fellow passengers, and there was even something good on the TV.