Sunday 17 May
(8 hours before I left Auckland)
Well I sure hit the ground running – Deb picked me up from the airport and off we went straight to San Francisco downtown (as they say). I was given a whirlwind tour of the SF icons including Nob HIll, the really bendy street with all the gardens in the middle of it (I will get back to you later with its name), the City Centre and a good sampling of the back streets. I also saw one of those rickety old cable car trams. I love the buildings and most of them are so well looked after. The views even from some of the lower houses was incredible.
The food on the plane was pretty good but in thirteen hours we only got two meals and breakfast was like, two thousand kilometres ago. She must have heard the grumbling because Deb drove into a stainless steel and pressed aluminium drive in burger joint that was straight from a Fonz episode. It was even called Mel’s Diner. When in Rome do as the San Franciscans do so I thought I may as well eat like the natives. When I finally, with Deb’s help, got my tired brain around ordering a medium rare, quarter pound cheeseburger with three different cheese choices and ‘do you want fries with that’, which I demurred, I soaked up the ambience. I have to say that being in the country that put the words Starbucks and Coffee in the same sentence I was sceptical about the burger but, hunger aside, it was one of the best hamburgers I have ever had. And it came medium rare.
We decided that the best way to work off the calories was to do a walk somewhere. My lovely friend and tour guide suggested The Golden Gate bridge would be a great place to start so I agreed. This bridge is huge and the water is a long way down. They say that quite a few people jump from this bridge but I reckon they get blown off. The Golden Gate bridge is one of those places that has beckoned since primary school geography days and here I was finally walking over it.
Finally we made our way back to Deb’s little yellow house in Petaluma which is about an hour north of the city. The area that she lives in is a rural community and the house nestles at the back of a property that has three other hoses on it and is surrounded by farms. The yard has a collection of beautiful trees, the centrepiece being a huge Californian Redwood that would take three greenies to hug.
En route to Debs we stopped in at a supermarket to buy dinner, some local wine and cheese and a few other essentials like chocolate. I think the supermarkets here deserve a whole blog of their own. This particular supermarket, Whole Foods, was mainly food including a huge assortment of ready to eat hot fare. Apparently people just don’t cook over here, they pop in and buy ready to go it then re-heat it at home.
Eyes hanging out of my head from all the amazing things that I have seen so far as well as the coffee (I use the word loosely) I was ready for bed and a long nights sleep.
PS The name of the steep bendy street is Lombard Street.