Road Trip Memories #5: San Francisco

‘So is there much to do on an evening when you’re not yet 21 and you’d don’t have a fake ID?’

As I idly ask the question while fumbling with my wallet, I glance up at the receptionist and almost instantly regret engaging him in conversation. The first thing I notice is the terrifying excitement in his eyes. Not kid-on-Christmas-morning excitement, more the kind of excitement the Joker has when he’s put one over on Batman, the insane kind. He looks fit to burst with information, which is when I notice his very unnatural brown spray-on hair. Oddly he seems to have only sprayed the back and sides of his head as his shiny done remains a testament to male-patter baldness. His lip is quivering and then he begins to blurt out:

‘Well there’s the shows, lots of shows you can go to, with dancers and cabaret and singers. The shows are wonderful.’

I look at Emma and we both raise our eyebrows, but in that pre-programmed British politeness way I feel I must continue the conversation:

‘So any you would recommend?’

‘Oh, they are all magnificent, some of the ladies are so wonderful, you would never know! They dance and dance…’

He prattles on for some minutes but I’ve completely tunes out and started leafing through some flyers of local attractions. Eventually he stops and looks expectantly for an answer:

‘Sounds good, we’ll have a look, cheers.’

I have no idea what I just agreed to look at but I was through the door and out on to the street before I had time to worry too much about it. So where to now? I have no idea where in San Francisco we are, where we want to go, or how to get there. I hear the rattle of a trolley car close by, familiar from so many movies, I decide wherever we are going that’s the best way to get there. We ride the trolley down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 and have a look around the attractions there. We see the hundreds of sea lions that famously linger by the wharf and marvel at their incredible smell. We take in Lombard Street, Chinatown, Union Square, Height Ashbury and Golden Gate Park all courtesy of the trolley car. Of all the cities I have visited in American, San Francisco feels the most European. It is eclectic, haphazard, small enough to walk around for the most part and incredibly diverse, both the people and the environment. As we wander the uneven hilly streets, I can’t help but hum the Bullett theme and (much to Emma’s indifference) point out where the black Dodge Charger lost its fifth hub-cap or where McQueen’s Mustang overtook the green Beetle twice. Without really stopping anywhere too long or visiting any of the many museums and attractions, I still feel like I have managed to absorb some of what San Francisco has to offer, I am sad we do not have more time here to explore in greater depth.

In the late afternoon we rendezvous with the rest of the group and go on a sunset catamaran cruise in the bay. There is none of the famous San Francisco fog today, just beautiful clear skies as the sun descends past the waterline and turns the iconic golden gate bridge into a silhouette against a sensational crimson sky. We head out for a fine Italian dinner and then wander back to Pier 39 to take in some of the sights of San Francisco’s nightlife. Unable to get into any bars, we eventually head to the cinema. I make a note to return when I am older and/or in possession of a decent fake ID and spend a lot more time in this beautiful city.

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