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Foreword | California! | Santa Cruz | Monterey | San Luis Obispo | Hollywood | Santa Monica | Long Beach | San Pedro | Yosemite Bound | Yosemite | Yosemite Falls | Vernal Falls | Snow Shoeing | Snow Boarding | San Francisco | Alcatraz | Last Day In Frisco

San Francisco

Friday

This was to be my final full day in the USA, it would be the long trip home tomorrow and a tearful goodbye to all the places and customs I had grown used to, some that I even liked. We made the most of our proximity to the city and hopped on the cable car for some Bullet-like street action!

Cable Car Cable Car

Cable Car As the cable car trundled up and down the hills of San Francisco we saw many sights including Lombard street - the most crooked street in the world, and in the distance the tower blocks of the city. We alighted at China Town and what a sight that was! There were many wierd and wonderful little shops, chinese people, more curious little shops, and action too! Two fire engines blared past us on their way somewhere, they then pulled into a side road in front of us. I never realised until now that the long ones with the ladder can actually slide by turning the wheels... and I thought it was just skillful driving!

From China town we walked on to the Italian district, an area full of Italian restaurants, fashion shops and of course the Italian flag!

San Francisco Nob Hill

We sat outside and had a drink, it was so pleasant in the sunshine here. Just around the corner from this we found the more sleezy side of town, there were a few suspicious looking closed doors with bouncers outside, a few second hand shops, and more prominantly several sex shops! Egged on by my friend we ventured inside and learned a thing or two.

Swiftly moving on we went up to the highest point at Coit Tower, a round tower erected on Telegraph Hill with funds left by Lillian Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric lady who loved the fire service so much she would chase the fire engines around town! Inside the tower were many fascinating murials on the walls, but it was slightly too expensive to go up the tower itself.

Presently we found our way back to China Town and located the China Town gate... we were a little disappointed in what we saw, but read later that the original gate had been much grander and was destroyed in a recent large earth quake.

Taking the bus we got off at Haight street, this was the hippy and gay side of town with many interesting looking shops and bars. It was getting dark by this time and most of the shops were shutting; this looked like the sort of place you didn't want to be in after dark so we took the bus towards Golden Gate Park, it looked fairly tame on the map but we forgot about the scale difference - there was a little note which said that this part of the map was to a smaller scale than the rest. When we arrived at the park it was dark, we couldn't see much at all. Expecting to see water gardens and quaint little garden paths, instead we found park roads and dark gloomy trees overshadowing the corners of an open area of grass, with a sports arena of some kind in the centre. Oh well, that was that.

Not wanting to wander through the park and find ourselves on the front page of the mornings newspaper as missing tourists we headed back to the bus stop, the bus we got soon filled up with commuters and once again I had to stand among them; there was a curious little girl on the bus too, she'd probably never seen English people before and was asking all sorts of questions like "Do they have clouds in England?", it was quite amusing for us. We also saw an oriental girl wearing a backless top, her back was covered in fine jet black hair!

Back on the cable car we had a young driver who was out for adventure, excitement and really wild things. Although he didn't do anything too foolish he did give us all a good ride down the steep hills, pulling the break lever at the last moment for bends. We got off at the last stop of the route, near Pier 39, and went back to the hostel via a Barnes and Nobel book store. That evening my friend cooked us both some fantastic grub and we both retired for the evening, it was past 9pm when we arrived back in the hostel and I had to be up and ready to leave in the morning.

Saturday

The big day, and I was ready for the off. At the front desk something caught my eye, a man with a broken leg was spending a lot of time talking to the people at the front desk - it was him! The guy from Santa Cruz!! I thought I had given him the slip, but here he was. I met my friend in the cafe for breakfast. She was talking with a girl who had just arrived from Scotland, I told them about the guy with the broken leg as he also turned up for breakfast.

I arranged for a seat on the airport shuttle bus with the people at the front desk. Sitting waiting for my time to leave, I was joined by my friend who was telling me of her plans for the rest of her stay; she too was planning to go and find work at the ski resort in Lake Tahoe, after spending a few days in San Francisco. I noticed another familiar face at the front desk... it was the lady who had been talking to the guy with the broken leg in Santa Cruz, and who I had met in San Luis Obispo! This was uncanny... She came close by and I stopped her to say hello, she was all smiles until I told her about the guy with the broken leg. She told me how she was planning to do a shuttle service for people just like me between hostels in California, a service I would certainly have been able to make use of.

Oakland Airport

I said my goodbyes, but before leaving I tried one last time to call my friends; I found that their telephone number was no longer in service, and there was no reply on their mobile. Well that was that then. I boarded my shuttle bus and found the whole city shrouded in fog. The bus picked up from several hotels in the city and eventually left for the airport where I checked in and waited for my flight home.

Prologue

I had four complete weeks in California, here's a break down of where I stayed and when:

Week 1

  • Saturday 5th January 2002: 6 hours coach ride to Heathrow, 12 hours in flight to San Francisco, -8 hours to my timezone: HI Santa Cruz.
  • Sunday: HI Santa Cruz.
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: McGivern Way, Santa Cruz.
  • Saturday, Sunday: HI Santa Cruz.

Week 2

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: HI Monterey.
  • Thursday, Friday: HI San Luis Obispo.
  • Saturday: HI Hollywood.

Week 3

  • Sunday, Monday: HI Santa Monica.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday: HI San Pedro.
  • Thursday: HI San Luis Obispo.
  • Friday: HI Merced.
  • Saturday, Sunday, Monday: HI Midpines (Yosemite Bug Hostel).

Week 4

  • Tuesday: HI Merced.
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: HI Fort Mason, San Francisco.
  • Saturday 2nd February 2002: 12 hours in flight to Heathrow, +8 hours to my timezone, 6 hours coach ride to Leeds, and then home.