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Published: August 21st 2012
14th Aug ’12 Seattle to San Francisco
We caught the train out to the airport for our flight to San Francisco. Everything was on time, we were in a brand new virgin plane with inflight entertainment systems on every seat back, the only problem was they charged for every movie, tv programme etc and even for the headphones. We arrived at about 4pm and took the airport train to the BART station, the train to Powell Station and then walked 3 blocks uphill and another 3 along to find the Halcyon Hotel on Geary and Jones. Our room is right at the front so you can hear everything that is going on, on the street.
We dropped our bags off and went for a walk and it turns out we are over the road from the Indian/Pakistani restaurant area, so guess what we had for tea? The good thing was there is so much competition for customers that the food is really cheap. We ate at a place called Chutney and it was packed out, with lots of Indian people eating here, the food was good but a bit on the hot side for me. After eating we walked
a few blocks and saw loads of homeless people and people begging which was sad.
15th Aug ’12 San Francisco
Today we are off to Haight Ashbury and I was so excited. Think The Summer of Love, Hippies and Peace. I really wanted to go here the last time we came, so I was determined to make the most of it!
We walked a few blocks down to catch a bus that would take us there. Well the bus was packed to the rafters, so full that the driver couldn’t let any more people on at other stops – seems I’m not the only one excited to be going to Haight Ashbury!
It was a long way so I was grateful when a man offered me his seat. I sat down and then realised I was next to a very drunk man who was kind of sprawled over 2 seats and half asleep. He gave himself a good scratch and the slung his arm over the back of the seats and kind of round me! The driver was announcing the stops and this guy half woke and shouted I want 8th street please then went back
to sleep. When we got to 8th he wasn’t moving so I woke him up told him we were here and he thanked me and got off, which was a bit of a relief I can tell you. Howard just stood there grinning!
When we arrived at the start of the Haight Ashbury area most of the bus got off and straight away you could see it was going to be an interesting area. Lots of houses were painted different colours, the shops were all weird and wonderful, with lots of amazing clothes and things I will be buying in Nepal when we get there!
I had a list of the addresses of houses famous people had lived in so had my eyes peeled. Everywhere you looked there were things to see and examine. One section of the road had tributes to various rock stars who had died young, they were built up around lampposts, with pictures, newspaper and magazine articles, flowers and leaves, most of them linked with this area. There was also one for Amy Winehouse and this seemed to be the most recent.
We walked the length of Haight looking in lots of shops
Jimi Hendrix's house
and came to the Golden Gate Park. There didn’t seem to be anything going on in the park but I took the opportunity to have my photo taken by the sign complete with the flower I had brought with me from Hawaii in my hair, while wearing my tie dye top and making peace signs, ahhhhh I was definitely born a decade too late!
Then we walked back along the other side of the road, looking in more shops and taking photos, including Jimi Hendrix’s house. Then we walked up and down Ashbury St looking at the amazing Victorian houses, some of which were painted and decorated including Janis Joplin’s and The Grateful Dead’s houses. We also saw the Hells Angel’s house and went down to Page to see the Hippie Temptation House. Back on Haight we caught the bus from the stop near the Anarchist Bookstore and got off at Market and Van Ness to pick up the bus which went all the way up to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Here we just wandered around looking at all the sights, visited the antique slot machines arcade which was interesting, got accosted by the Smiles for the Homeless people who
The Grateful Dead's House
wanted to give me a luv your smile sticker and Howard a where is your smile one!
We walked up to the cable car ride, thinking we would take that back to our side of the city but the queue was enormously enormous, so we just got the bus instead.
We ended up back at Chutney’s for tea but after waiting an hour for our food and seeing 2 tables full of people walk out due to the wait I don’t think we will bother tomorrow night.
There were even more beggars about tonight, it’s heartbreaking.
16th Aug ’12 San Francisco
So today we walked miles more, visiting the sights we hadn’t yet seen. It was really hot today so I guess the famous fog was giving us a break. We walked along to Union Square and saw all the enormous skyscrapers and the big flash shops and then continued on to China Town. It has a lovely gate way and straight away you feel as if you are in a different country!
The shops are full of lots of Chinese knick knacks and souvenirs and its’ all hustle and bustle. There are suitcases
Janis Joplin's House
for sale everywhere, so we decided we would get one on the way back – my back is really starting to hurt from carrying the rucksack.
We walked the length of China Town, collecting leaflets for various eating places from people who couldn’t speak any English. At the other end we ended up in the Italian district, where all the restaurants served pizza and pasta and everyone was Italian! We headed up to Washington Square which had a lovely small park area in front of a massive church. Everyone was laying out in the sun and taking it easy, so with much relief we sat down for a rest too.
We ended up being befriended by Two Feathers, who wanted to paint my toenails, which I declined. He seemed to be the self-appointed park keeper, he was wearing an old orange plastic vest thing which made him look vaguely official and was wandering around with a broom (which probably came out of a skip) sweeping leaves. He was really friendly and insisted on telling us about this lady in the park who asked him to paint her toenails and then painted one of his finger nails in return,
which he thought was hilarious until he realised he couldn’t get the varnish off! I reckon he was one of the homeless people who live in this park but he keeps an eye out for the others and keeps the place nice. When it was time for us to move on, he shook hands and said it was great to meet us and then said he was going for a rest as he was as ‘drunk as a skunk and as loose as a goose’ which just got me laughing and then him laughing even more! What a lovely man.
So we retraced our steps and went in to haggle for a suitcase and now (for the moment) I am a flash packer rather than a back packer so I only hope my back improves!
Eventually we staggered back to the hotel, knackered, hot and ready to collapse.
Tea that night was my choice – Lori’s Diner, really old school 1950s diner with lovely steak, baked potato and salad, now that’s what I call a meal!
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