Published: August 30th 2010February 16th 1990
Golden Gate Bridge
The bridge viewed from San Francisco
We met a guy called Greg at the hostel who disliked hippies as much as we did and he travelled around with us for a while. He had just broken up with his woman and fancied getting away from England for a while and, as he was into bodybuilding, he had come to LA, which is apparently their capital.
Flying is the standard was of getting around America, but our funds wouldn’t stretch to that so we got the bus. After all the freeways of LA, the roads between cities are surprisingly narrow and quiet, although not in the league of the outback. As I said, everyone flies.
We found a hostel and then did some washing at a laundrette nearby called 'Brain-wash'. This was actually a combined laundrette and restaurant, which was a neat concept as you could put your washing on and then have some beers (piss-water) or food. When our washing was completed, Mike was gutted as a new, red sweatshirt had turned all his new white tee-shirts pink! Now he could get to walk around San Francisco in pink tee-shirts - of course Greg and I didn't find that in the least bit funny.
Approaching the island in the boat
After LA, which we hated, we loved San Francisco. It was a lot more compact and it had a lot more character. I always had the impression that it is huge, but actually it’s not. There was still plenty to see and do, including the China Town, the Goldengate Bridge, the bigger but not so famous Oakland Bridge, a maritime museum, the Coit Tower, but the absolute must see is Alcatraz Island.
Once there, you’ve got to do the audio tour. This is a Walkman with a recording that guides you round with sound effects and commentary from ex-prisoners and wardens. Apparently it has won so many awards that it’s no longer considered, and you can see (or rather hear) why.
The nightlife in San Francisco is gay, yuppie or weirdo, but we eventually got lucky and found a Scottish pub. This one was actually quite authentic (no fluorescent signs), they served pints and it was complete with the guy in a Kilt playing the Bagpipes. Excellent!
As sheltered town dwellers, one thing that we had never seen before and hence really shocked us, was the amount of down-and-outs, beggars and homeless people. So much for the
The prison exercise yard
great American dream!
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