Category Archives: california

Past trips: California – attempting to finish up the notes on the California trip (distant memories and scratchy mobile phone typing skills)

LA – Burbank – memory bit 1

It’s getting to a while ago now, that trip to California though I never did get round to ending that bit of brain dumping before the space was entirely formatted to make room for nothing that I can inmedidley identify.

Long Island ice tea or some sort of variant upon it, that much I do remember having along with my dinner. The plastic friendliness of the waiter was slightly less and the food though I have no recollection of what it was, was decent.

The Long Island ice tea relative was pretty good and after a couple there was bit of a base layer. We’d attempted a look at what looked like a prospective place of life and populous on our pre-dinner rounds, doing a recon mission just behind it boarders. Whatever it was was up some stairs and that’s about where I had gotten to, enough to hear the unwelcoming hollow echo of a none frequented upstairs. With such unsuccessful memories of our first circuit of the town centre in mind Mitch took up his third or forth favourite thing and began to enquire about local places with the nearest service sector person he could find.

For it is well understood and known in the small circle of familiars that it is the serving up of food or the standing behind of bars than can most entice Mitch, though being by most standards relatively withdrawn and passive in such matters a brief bought of conversation is about the level to which this will generally evidence itself to the world.

This was a male service sector person, who I believe had been doing something on the military previously – so his interest was simply in some generally unnecessary verbal exchanges that resulted in Us getting to know some barest minimum things about a chap we shall almost certainly never come upon again and which can’t be transferred as learnings to any boarder world experiences… These then are the types of things you get to know and clog up limited memory space with, when one of your number feels the need to share and insight back a form of polite acknowledgment response sharing.

He did mention some bars one of which seemed like we probably had missed it on our earlier circuit, somewhere additional to see if it contained the trace elements of life. With that information successfully gleaned and tucked under our arms it was time to head on out, to see what we might see in the night hours in Burbank.

LA – Burbank – memory bit 2

It was not immediately findable this other bar, the others all congregated around two central squares, this as yet undiscovered one had snuck of and located itself on the corner one further horizontal or vertical (depending on ones perspective) street down, not part of the generally accepted huddle.

The karaoke here, for while it was well populated, it was a theme bar from that seemingly much mourned 50s / 60s time of happy days and today it was having its karaoke time, was not up to San Francisco next top pop star standards, remained superior to what is customarily inflicted back home.

If memory serves this place had pints and with all the general to-ing and fro-ing time passed well enough. Groups were clearly in mini competitions with their friends as one got up after another and again sole seemed to put the performance first steering clear of the the types of beverages that would be the very rational for most Brits to be frequenting such a place. Soft drinks are after all for the designated deliver and there should be at least 4 or 5 others for each of these.

The evening had passed into night some time ago, it was enjoyable enough, relaxing, in a diverting but basically uneventful sort of way, until eventually it seemed to make more sense to begin the stretched out largely straight meander back to the safari inn .. Or whatever it was called – shall surely be reminded when it comes time to rifle about in the accompanying photos.

Bar Burbank SportsSafari Inn Burbank

LA – memory bit 3

This was our one full remaining day in the USA and the question, which at some no longer recalled point was answered, what to do with it?

We had our car but hearing bad things about central LA or for whatever other reason, perhaps simply wishing to try for ourselves the U.S. Interpretation of a public service, we opted to head for the train station instead. For that was the day’s intent, to pay a visit to Central LA.

It was quite hot out and although we arrived rushing at the station with only moments to go until the departure time, the train did not.
We could have dumped our tickets and headed back to the car but it was a 15 min walk and the talk was of a 30 min delay. Talk was wrong, the more local people who shared the platform were scarce and though few trains came or went in either direction it became clear from the utterances being expressed that this challenge of operating a functional train service was not an uncommon one in these parts. Disgruntled persons melijgered and we waited it out, regretting not have more swiftly returned for our car because clearly that what people around here are meant to do – take to the overly congested road system and soak it up.
You could argue that the train did eventually come or you could suggest that intact it never arrived and that what we all eventually got onto was in fact the next scheduled service, that had been due to run anyway that considerable time later.

Burbank Train Station

It was so so very hot, the train had been a pleasant temperature controlled escape but now it really was quite something. My brain could barely cope with or without none to fashion statement hat shade, I could feel the heat melting things upon which I felt myself generally reliant. Water, shade

At a cross roads we stood opposite a palatial great monument of a building in opulent splendor that transpires to be the police hq, not quite the prefabricated relic of glorified shed more customarily seen scaring towns throughout the UK with its 50/60s blight. To our right a road ran alongside, shopping trot after shopping trolley some forming an upright support to s modest test of unpleasant looking materials, a vast unedifying row of destitution and homelessness, a mini shanty town before the glass towers that were soon to commence before us.

LA HomelessHomeless Street Trolleys LALA Police HQ

You could hope that with a fresh start and so much knowledge of our mistakes, that the new world would have been somehow more than what it left behind. Instead the extent to which its stuck in a modern incarnation our past, a dismally disappointing retrograde step, rendering it at best perhaps as a glaring warning to us all, of what can be allowed to happen if you learn only how to do wrong from the wrongs that are done to you. It is not the sight of such warped priorities that is the warning, those can be seen in part wherever you go, it’s not even the unabashed extremes in which it displays itself, it’s the apparent devotion to it all, a blight of the mind with no sign of fading into time. It’s kind of a tragedy for all of us, though less selfishly it’s a more present and less abstract one for the people whose trollies lined that street.

Meanwhile my head was embarking upon an attempted tail spin, lightly steamed and loosing traction with itself and things in general. Never have been wholly stunned to the hotter climate leaving my brain captain looking and trying to wrestl back control from assorted members of his crew who overcome had either downed tools and started running around in circles or were at there post cackling manically to themselves.

We found an underpass, it was shady, cool and had a shop which had among its available produce assorted options of bottled water, most gratefully purchased.

Still we were exploring the city on foot, conducting the now quite familiar exploratory circuit but on the full glare of the midday sun, it went somewhat easier with those bottles, melting was a more gradual process but it was a process beneath the high glassy buildings of the somewhat sterile streets.

LA City CenterLA Square BuildingLA Street Towers LA Sky ScrapperLA City Center Sky ScrapperWhite Pointy Building in Los AngelesLA Train Station

After training it back I rather imagine I took once more to the pool, what with the temperatures and all.

As evening fell we headed of to the much recommended universal studios walk way – neither of us could muster the beginnings of an understanding for why anyone would ever recommend a person to venture to these parts. A cheap sort of open air shopping center consisting only of those stores that you would never normally or now venture toward.

There was the large universal globe spinning, we took photos of that because we were here and left.
This is going to sound terribly grouchy but we then headed for Hollywood boulevard, because we were here and it seemed like a logical thing to see while we were here. Finding a space was challenge and by then it was dark, the area was properly grim, unclean and aside from some stars embedded in the paving with which to play spot the name of someone famous, there was truly little to see. We took a picture of one those more famous stars that we happened upon, never saw the Harrison ford one and returned to our car.

Universal Studios LA Universal Studios Globe LAHollywood Audey Hepburn Star

Getting out of there proved tricky and the return to Burbank, defeated in our aim to find an alternative place of interest to eat and take in the evening, took some time. Late for dinner we dumped the car in a side road close to Burbank center, saving some precious walking time and went to seek out something that met our standards, something that was still serving.

We ended up at a Chinese, I like Thai, I like Japanese, Korean, i like many of these countries foods very much indeed. This was a Chinese restaurant, carefully chosen through the merit of being all but next door to our initial choice who had welcomed us in but then confessed to having supply issues with any number of the theoretically available dishes on their menu.

Still we’d gotten about and seen the sorts of things that ought to be worth taking in, the fact that they weren’t was almost secondary.

What to do after dinner was a problem, the options there were, had been fairly much explored yesterday and now we could repeat or not, if not then what?

We dillied and dalied about the place, one foot in one foot out and turn it all about, eventually returning to the place we’d turned out back on the day before, the place with the echoing upstairs, today the only place with a semblance of life about it.

Upstairs a tribute band that had barley escaped the 80s, but suffering overly from Stockholm syndrome had opted to take a great deal of it with them, they were offering up some of their once favourites now one might suspect painfully familiars. For all that they weren’t bad. Getting served at the bar that was the primary issue.

It was uneventful or if there was an event then it was the sort that has subsequently faded.

LA – last day memory bit

On the last day the flight was not until the early evening so there remained much of a day at our disposal.
We took to the car and drove off, first toward the Hollywood sign, the roads were not really overly sign posted and grew into quite narrow mountain side tracks.
Unclear on how close the road got to the thing we would drive along and see where it took us, stopping of once briefly before deciding that if we followed it further we could surely get closer.

So it was, though movies where people loiter or sit upon the signs, this was not, up up there upon a hill there were letters – that is all.
We passed a bunch of congregating people and headed on, perhaps there was a better view of a footpath that bent up to get a person closer.

As we stood taking the look we are here photos two others materialised and wondered up to us, they were young and with an accent that I couldn’t immediately be place. I think they wanted us to take their photos before the famous sign.
It transpired they were German as we transpired to not be American either, one was here to do an internship with a politician somewhere up the coast -around where we’d been earlier in the week and would be out here for a while yet. There is something pleasantly direct often about the Germans a thug about their apparent cultural norm that makes a lot of sense to me.
To my mind the priority was seeing about potential path ways up, as pleasant as these two were the sense that there must be some sort of route up the hillside occupied thoughts, there was not, least not one that was located, merely some signs warning people that patrols were armed in these parts or something to that effect. And why not.

Hollywood SignLA Hollywood SignNo Access Hollywood SignArmed Guard Sign LA

We now took a diverted route back to the coast, via Beverly Hills. It didn’t need a sign, suddenly and out of nothing the roads were pleasant, they had grass verges, the properties set back and looked like they had been build with more than the next 20 years in mind. The thing snot the place were the vivid lines of division and brazen stark contrasts, there was not doubt though, this was aesthetically at least a very nice place to be living. We weren’t stopping and drove on though, onward toward the coast.

This is where LA seemed at its best, mile upon mile of golden sand beeches accompanied by attractive little town/villages. If you wanted a beech holiday and didn’t mind a bit of flying then this was certainly a fine place to come.
Most of the time was spent in leisurely coastal driving though we did stop off briefly on a couple of occasions.

The destination end point at which we were to turn around was to be where we’d started, that first evening with ‘uv gawht it’ waiter and his not so substantially supported general utterances. When we got there or there about and wondered the pier, the realisation that this wasn’t half as nice as some the areas we’d passed through on route was not a hard one to stumble upon.
We took to the speeder highways and headed back toward the airport but first toward one of those pleasant little beech side areas that lay close o it. We would have out last hour or so and out pre flights meal intake there instead.

Long Beach Pier LAOne rather large burger later time was more than up, the car needed unfortunately (for I’d grown all together to attached to the oversized road blimp) to be returned, fuel filled and the game of guess the top amount played, then bus it back to the terminal and prepare for the Ryan air reject flight that would be the first leg of our return journey – this time via New York.

LA Beach FrontBeach Front LALarge Burger LA

Arriving into New York we made our way as promptly as possible to our connecting gate…Mitch having studied the time and mentioned it was a close run thing … It was closed, no sign of anyone, we’d missed it.

So of to the United desk with us and a query of what next … Now this was both good news and somewhat oh I c news at the same time – our flight had not gone, it would not be going anywhere for some time, Mitch was very much on California time and had therefore come to a flawed conclusion on the nature of our situation.
There was time for sitting, time for breakfast (it was not the finest, scrambled eggs and bacon-esk offering in a transparent plastic receptacle contact- visually more appealing than digestivley) and pointless drifting wondering about circuits.

NY Airport Food

Then it was time to head home.


Past trips: California – Follow the straight and dry road – the savage world and its Taco Bells that loiter not in the shadows [23]

Our experience of San Francisco was over, we left as early as access to breakfast at the hotel would allow, so as to hopefully avoid any business rush hour traffic. The Jeep was parked up in the block next door, within one of the many multistorys with the erroneous priced advertisements but within very handy short distance.
We loaded up and headed off, once more at the mercy of the Sat-Nav and its occasionally unusual take upon the concept of point to point navigation.

Leaving San Fransisco never easy – it seemed – having past some familiar sights from the night before some time ago, things kept on going rather from there. Suburbs it seemed or something akin to Suburbs, either way about an hour past, largely unimpeded by any vast traffic build up and we didn’t seem to have left the place, most expansive.

Brown Ground California

Tree Landscape Brown Dry SpaceSan Francisco to LA The Dry and The Lake

is that a lake in the brown - California

The route we were taking back was quite different to the trip up, a direct and straight line through inland California, no stops were planned just to get ourselves back down to LA in as shorter order as we could, today was dedicated simply to that purpose.

The memorable bit of this journey centered around the main trench of straight upon which we found ourselves. About us there was mostly nothing, though surprisingly in certain patches things that looked like farms appeared, the landscape looked like it was verging on dessert and not particularly well disposed to offering lush vegetation and nutritional bounty, appearance must be deceptive as clearly something was growing among the dust.

The air con was on, windows being open was doing little other than letting the suns rays in unintentionally and a whole load of warm air with them, the air con was not exactly victorious either. It was warm out.
We stopped sometime after midday at the site of some sort of road side stop off place, it wasn’t a town, it didn’t appear to be near very much at all, so I think it was just that, a place for petrol and pause among the hot and the nothing.

Route 5 California Cars

Lorry By Route Five CaliforniaGreen Shouts Of Plant In the Dry CaliforniaCalifornia Route FiveFarming in the dry Route 5 CA Radio Temperature Shot Jeep Route Five CA Break Spot civilisationRoute Five CA Break Spot 2

There were burritos on offer at the first place we wondered too, it was made up to look like an old western town a bit like you might see in such movies. Mitch in what clearly transpired to be something quite apart from infinite wisdom wanted to go an inspect the Taco Bell. No one should ever go and inspect a Taco Bell or least if they do they should go with one clear though in mind, do not eat the merchandise, never consume the merchandise. We did, that was a fine lesson harshly learnt – those were not beans, they didn’t taste like beans and the brown molten mess did not put me in mind of any sort of bean, at best a superheated bean by-product. I feel though this must be a thing known to all domestic dwellers of taco bell infested lands and is probably something that none domestics should be better apprised off upon arrival.

With my digestive systems and many of my senses stunned it was time to head on, the second part of the day, my turn to drive. It ought to be simple driving in straight line, its not and technically it is but it wasn’t, between the heat and the apparently unending hypnotic straightness of things the concentration has its wobbles. By now the cruise control was familiar and the idea of accelerating and slowing by pushing steering wheel adjacent buttons was a familiar, yet in equal measure, a still intriguing and peculiar approach and one I tended toward abandoning whenever other vehicles were in any kind of proximity. The gears though, they went quite untouched, that lesson it seemed had been learnt along with the Taco Bell, admittedly the second one, never tested but I feel fairly confident that something was learnt this day.

I cant say that I believe there was so very much else to recant about the days travels other they past in reasonably swift order and we arrived at our next stop, a hotel in Burbank LA, at the earliest juncture that we could have expected, late afternoon.
It wasn’t so much a hotel, again more a motel, a collection of rooms no more than two storeys high but it had a pool and it was nowhere near so late as to warrant not using it. Mitch went for a run in the not quite but still altogether very present, midday sun, I being somewhat and ever more all to about the limited excursions, went for a wallow.
We were not in central Burbank, as evening arrived and it became to venture out once more in pursuit of dinner it seemed we were about 20minutes or so away from central Burbank, though it was a simple straight one road walk to get back there. We did a customary lap and settled on a bar/restaurant that lay around the end of that lap. The center was quite small and closely wrapped, laid out like a digital figure eight..

Meanwhile in Zurich I’m attempting to watch some house series 7 – it seems like quite a weak series so far – watching in on the balcony while Grandfathers sleep, to a background of rain and the occasional departing and arriving flight, during such moments its best to pause the DVD, for the aging Fujitsu laptop it compete most poorly with such things and such things they come at relatively regular intervals, during which time I get to look out at the green, the grey and the wet, its still there.

Past trips: California, San Francisco Curry Night [22]

There was a choice, the boats that had been advertised by the other cycle hire places, they went across the bay and back over to San Francisco. On the other hand their was the cycles and the road that brought us here, technically it was a reversible route, only there was the hill, the one that had been so generously downward on the inward leg. The reversal of this hill posed a concern as I reflected on the question, why had I come over quite so peculiar earlier and based on that would it likely return under the strain of such an effort.

Sausalito, CA, Pacific Ocean

Mitch wasn’t about to be put off by a bit of gradient and I was ready to be swayed either way, declaring defeat and boarding a boat was therefore unlikely as the decision of first choice.
I wasn’t expecting success but set to offering it a token cosmetic effort without expectation, the initial part of the hill had seemed steep on the way down, so first id just aim for the top of that bit and then take it from there. To my surprise I was making it up, past that initial hill out of town and on, I wasn’t even loosing ground on Mitch, least not until the top where the gradient had not been the issue id expected the wind was more assured. Toward the top it gusted heftily through the channel dug out for the road and slowed me to a brief stop. My stomach was doing nothing, neither the heat nor the effort had been cause for further issues, all that 1.5leters of cola that must by now be swilling about within seemed to be working out for the best.

Sausalito Horseshoe Bay

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Clouds

After a momentary pause I remounted, it was all but flat by now and was shortly back by the bridge. The weather had changed, clouds had drawn in from somewhere and now capped round the bridge struts. Some more photos, for quite unnecessary reasons and onward, a return leg of greater pace than had been achieved earlier and uninterrupted. I couldn’t quite recall where we’d picked up the bikes and stopped with a view to returning mine at what wasn’t quite the right store. I’d simply opted for the first store to appear, that’s how I remembered things, its not how things were, as Mitch rolled past and onward an additional but important few meters.

Apparently we’d only been gone a couple of hours, a cause for further price reductions, always welcome. The fish market was close by and Mitch’s mind had turned to retrieving something from its assorted marine offerings. Seldom in mind for particular delights of the fluddery and salty things, today was not such a day when the stomach would be calling for bravery or exceptions … nor was in any particular hurry to sample that which was so duly fried. I opted out.

San Francisco Fish Market SignSea Gull CA San Francisco

San Francisco Sea Gull Chip Tray

We headed back, taking in a café as we headed away from the bay and encountered the San Francisco cable car, then a fair bit of cross town hill wondering on the way back to the hotel.

San Francisco Cable Car

tram San francisco cruise ship leaving

Cable Car Travellers Hold On

San FranciscoSan Francisco Town House

San Francisco Homeless Resident -Kettled not helped

For the evening we made a second and more successful effort and using the underground to head to a different part of town, we’d hear that somewhere around 24 and 18th street .. there was options and out going points of interest.
The underground was externally ropey but came with a level of seating and space unfamiliar to those accustomed to the tube. Emerging at the other end, we were underwhelmed by some more developing economy style dilapidation, hoping for something in the way of improvement we started walking, it was after all a stretch of road that we’d been pointed at and this was only one end of that.
San Francisco Underground Station

San Fancisco Powell Station

San Francisco Underground Map

The road was in no kind of hurry toward improving, a mixture of grime and discarded rubbish, while the shops looks like temporary buildings in need of a touch of paint and possibly a spot of demolishing and stating again with a less DIY, left over materials from the back of the shed theme. Seldom has a city so underwhelmed, the advise to anyone intending to go would be don’t believe the hype, set you expectations low and the city wont disappoint as shortly shy of average, its hard to believe this was one of the worlds wealthiest nations. Mind Birmingham isn’t entirely all that, aesthetically speaking but then I’m not sure we have too many tourist campaigns espousing its delights. It does a fine line in congestion, as easy to escape as a mythical Greek maze.

Still not working now, not in Birmingham on these days – San Francisco and just as we were commencing the process of wondering what exactly to settle uncomfortably on, we did come upon a slightly richer vein of options. Discovering a bring your own, limited menu options curry house which we reasonably quickly settled on.

San Francisco Underground

San Francisco Streets

Drinks sourced from off license shop, conveniently located opposite we returned to what was clearly a popular spot, filling most quickly and it was good. Better than many Curry restaurants back home with their far more extensive menus, here it might have been simple and the options limited but what does that matter if its good and it really was.

Pakwan Indian San Francisco

Curry Pakwan Magners CiderPakwan Indian Restaurant CA San Francisco

After dinner we made a passing effort, burdened by a lack of belief forged of the impressions formed during our earlier wonderings, to find somewhere else to go to. Unready to head back just yet we settled on the nearest thing we could find to meet the criteria of being open, none disconcerting and somewhere to go.

The bar tender put in quite the performance, a lesson in profession bar manning, taking orders from one while serving up assorted types of beverages to others. We could do with a few of these types back home, where getter served is a war of attrition that is doing untold damage to the British reputation for queuing, not even polite pretense is given to such notions in most domestic bars these days. Only ten years ago such behaviour was notable though not exceptional, now it’s customary. Here there was no such need, so swiftly this lone bar tender operated, taking orders committing them to memory, most impressive. The bar on the other hand was a little lacking in charm, perfectly pleasant but with too little about it to warrant any sort of longer visit than the time taken for those couple of post dinner drinks to be supped down, as we perched upon our bar side stools.

Pilfered Post Visit Picture
Pilfered Post Visit Picture

blondies Bar San Francisco

Blondies Bar
Poor Quality Capture – Blondies Bar SF

Past trips: California, San Francisco and The Golden Gate Bridge [21]

We’d wondered around the ocean front and as with many things on US maps, with their scales, it was further than immediate perceptions of the doodle had suggested. The further distance created by taking some faulty turns on the way toward the water had also had an effect.
We were about half way around, perhaps a little more, when the cartel pricing of the various cycle rental places was clear. By now we could have been cycling for some time having encountered the first ocean from hire place quite early on.

Having been no immediately drawn toward the premium tourist fund relinquishing bike hire schemes, with those earlier options, the later options now fell under that recently established common law not quite judgement but reticent pondering.   So we remained meandering along, options were running out, heading toward the end of the commercial town center part of the promenade.

Small ships were docked with members of their crews loudly and repeatedly alerting those who passed by as to their departure times. One was heading off, quite soon, on a trip out and past the bridge, Mitch seemed inclined we could after all get quite a good view from that sort of vantage point and with the price of the two cartel backed bikes, why not.

Occasionally I may be guilty of some degree of mental inflexibility and having had bikes in mind was open if not wholly persuaded by this boat idea, so without a vigorous sponsor to lead the case for the boats we mooched on, it was not late, we could always come back after all.

The assorted fish market stands & boat trip touting boats behind us we drifted up against the end of the commercial stretch.
The bike rentals weren’t done yet mind, perhaps we weren’t the first visitors to these shores to hatch such a plan.

There were not so many bikes left as a small bike place attendant popped up. They had all been most friendly, all the way along, I guess you’d have to be all those dithering tourists humming their uncertain holiday brain tunes about them all day. We didn’t know anything about all that.
This one though seemed less sales friendly somehow, more I like bikes and outdoor things so I’m doing this, it’s alright relaxed sort of friendly.
The price was also a bit better at this one, though it then transpired once inside, they didn’t actually have two of the cheaper bikes available anymore. It could have been a most cunning manoeuvre only it probably wasn’t, either way after unleashing the great countermeasure, befuddlement empowered procrastination, into proceedings it was settled.  We had one higher grade bike instead for the same price.

Somehow we also seemed to end up on some pay as you go style deal, which worked out fine, shed told us roughly how long the roundtrip tends to take, with the proviso that not all cycle speeds are equal and there were different places we could cycle to. If memory serves we’d pay for the hours we used up to the maximum of the 1/2 day and whatever that might be it would be less than the rather familiar standardised charges offered by all the others.
Cycle hire leaflet
The bikes came with little storage bags which was handy for things like cameras, the multitudes and their shares habits – while the more general clobber was left behind at the bike shop for retrieval at that unspecified juncture of our return.

Heading off, it was a broad well maintained path that bowed over hillocks and arout grasy parkland bits.San francisco dock housesIt was all going pretty well until really quite suddenly it wasn’t. It was warm out, there was a moderate incline and yes I was out of practice but this seemed unfounded, my stomach contracted and convulsed making every sign that it had intention to relinquish that which lay within.
After a brief period of chewing and further faltering effort I pulled up and went to crouch by a bush.. There was reaching but unproductive, this was odd and not really acceptable, there was no call for that sort of reaction.

I gave up on that idea and with the benefit of the break continued on to the top of the hill with one thing in mind, the nuclear strike remedy that was coke and its stomach nuking powers.

There was a tourist shop and refreshment store up there, near enough to where the bridge began, neither sold coke they had silver canned cola, full of organic wholesome things… Normally fair enough right now I doubted it’s capacity for destruction was up to the only artificial ingredients and sugar destroyer we all know so well, all trusty, red and corrosive.

Still it was chilled, sugary, water based and there. This the angelic white cola really did help, though there was no more hill to contend with and I did wonder if I had maybe sunk that low a little bit.
Golden Gate Bridge full viewGolden Gate Bridge head on viewSan Francisco golden gate bridgeTourist deeds must be done.
San Francisco bayPrison Alcatraz IslandSan Francisco BayGolden Gate Brige Rusty Coloured Tower

San Francisco Boats and Ocean ViewPacific Ocean San Francisco

San Francisco Distant View

Bay Area Golden Gate BridgeSea Lions Lime Point San FranciscoHorse Shoe Bay Sea Lions

On the other side of the bridge and despite the great good done by the silver cola thought of coke remained very much at the forefront of hopes, aspirations and general thoughts for what might be.

Google Map Image Alexander Ave Sausalito
Sausalito Alexander Ave Ocean View

Photos don’t seem to do gradient, a lesson from skiing holidays pasts and clearly just as applicable without the presence of snow, something about dimensions and its good to know that even the google has not mustered dominion over this particular law.


Defintion of word evil by google

Though to be fair to them, not the most narrow of restraints, “profoundly immoral and wicked”, profoundly .. it does leave a fair bit of scope for well quite the array.  On the other hand maybe they were going for the noun …. “when regarded as a supernatural force”  … ,great spell checker, much better than word with its mangled phonetics decoder – no clue how it recognises some of those offers, very impressive.    We were on bikes heading down the hill to Sausalito, it was not the most arduous of efforts, gravity was much in our favour, which was nice as we could spend quite a bit of time just skooshing along taking in the scenery.

As we came into town another shop appeared, a more traditional general sort of store, swinging around we came to a halt and took it in turns to venture in.  The need was not longer so great but i headed of to hunt down a drink, before eventually settling back on that familiar red label, a big old bottle it was too, i made off with it.

By the time Mitch had returned from his explorations within, much of the cola had been take care off, a uprising amount given the issue of absorbing such a frothy fizzing sweetness has somewhere found itself a home.

Past Trips – California, Walks, Bikes and Bridges – San Francisco [20]

For the day then, we were aiming for bikes, a means to reach the Golden Gate Bridge and to fill up a reasonable chunk of a day.  With that in mind we started walking, though again the grid that should confound no man did for us and we wound up heading somewhat overly eastward.  Through the banking finance bit on our way to the ocean front.

It was on this wonder that the uglyness of San Francisco was revealed in a way that has seen it live with me so long after, not the homeless, the drug addicted or even the abandoned disabled but here in the finally clean streets, the smart glass high rises and the even paving stones. This was the striking thing, here within no great amount of walking distance at all there was no poverty, no living symptom of poverty had migrated here and why not.. that was the first question that came to mind, the later and more enduring one that came to be formed – this was a city with money, it had the means to look after this bit of town, it had means to keep it clean, it had the taxes these glass towers must support, it kept the tourist walkways along the promenade pretty darn pristine and it didn’t sully these areas with the presence of the poor. It had the means.  This city, it wasn’t just looking the other way, the only conclusion that made any sense, deliberate pruning and kettling was at play. They acknowledged their tired, their poor, their huddled masses yearning to breathe free – so that they might shut them into their own little quarter, to dwell openly among their own and not impose the undesirable sight of their existence upon the suits and travelers.

Still there were nice bridges and this ocean front bit was really quite nice.

San Francisco Bridge San Francisco Ocean Front TowersTram San Francisco Paddle Boat San Francisco Police Horses On Grass San Francisco Cruise Liner Docked San Francisco Sea Lions Wooden Pier San Francisco alcaraz island San Francisco Pier View

Past Trips – California & The Troublesome Breakfast [19]

We were aiming for bikes, a means to reach the Golden Gate Bridge and to fill up a reasonable chunk of a day.  First breakfast and we’d opted to go out, the hotel charged for its offering so why not see what else was about, the reception chap pointed us in the direction of some cafe diner places.

After wondering some way to the recommended cafe we found a very small and unfriendly waiter waiting for us.  Listening to this greeting the people on the table behind shared with us there view that they would not stay if spoken to that way… i was just rather hoping for breakfast to make its way in my direction at some point not too much more distant.  The menu was unusual, not that appealing and though running on morning speed a certain amount of thought had turned to exactly what that was all about and whether being spoken to quite like that was really ok – settling albeit belatedly on the conclusion it was not. This was a bit of a pain, breakfast being so tantalisingly possible, so minded toward being appreciated and the meander to get here so notably unshort.

The waitress who’d come along after and from whom, during that mental pause, we’d ordered drinks had been more then pleasant.  So with that in mind, i’d wondered in to cancel our order, it seemed better than just leaving.  I have no recollection of what this place was called, i think it had an odd modern sort of a name.. like not Lou’s or Chip’s Cafe more like Zero’s or Zinc … probably nether of these but orange.

The little waiter man appeared traveling at some speed, zipping in from around the corner, he almost collided with me, i scowled down past my shoulder at him a bit, well he had that air about him, either having a very bad start to the day or particularly ill suited to the service sector.  More accustomed to fopping and bumbling about in a Curtis caricature fashion, here i sought instead to channel my inner Guy Richie creation, i cant imagine it was overly successful, he was a very small chap mind and everything is perhaps, hopefully, relative.

Having approached the waitress i requested to cancel our drinks order and left.  We headed on, though by now Mitch needed a coffee so we didn’t get very far before stopping off, i had some sort of fresh iced tea, drinks were going round, it wasn’t cold out, so why not..

We ended up quite close to our hotel for the eventual diner of choice or rather convenience, it looked a little less modern and pretentious than the last one and while touristy in nature appeared similar to those we’d encountered years before in New York.

Lori's American Diner Sutter St

It was quite greasy but lacking in quality and flavour.. really not like the New York ones, the sausage was superior to the one on the United Flight, the percentage of play-dough that had gone into its creation was much reduced, fat, saw dust and salt had been brought in and the benefits were there in the eating.

Lori's American Diner San Francisco

Past Trips – California, An Evening In San Francisco [18]

The intention was to use the close proximity underground station to head of to a different corner of the town for dinner.  An intention which did not play out.  Rather like the petrol stations the approach to coaxing a ticket from the machines was an acquired knowledge, i cant recall exactly what it was about it that was hard to grasp but i believe the money being put in came before the ticket selection or something like that.. it was the petrol station all over again, entirely backwards and the wrong way round.  Least the advantages of toppling the more familiar process and reconstructing it on its head were lost on us, to the point where in the few seconds we were granted to consider what was we were expected to do, we were instead stupefied.  We had only moment in that state before being approached, a person with local knowledge, large and less than entirely fresh scented had zeroed in and was suggesting we give him our money so he might buy the ticket for us.

Its hard to gauge how to be in such situations, embrace the warmth of man and his desire to assist those caught in unfamiliar territory or risking being paranoid through the tainted view of skepticism toward their motives.  Had he been dressed in different attire, less eager, more fresh of scent or perhaps had we not be so recoiled from this whole area, then perhaps we might have opted for showing this random our tourist wallets and money but not today.  Instead and i cant recall exactly in what way, we extracted ourselves from this conversation, headed away from the ticket dispensing machines and eventually opted to head back out onto the street.
San Francisco Underground Station

San Francisco Underground Map

San Francisco Powell Station

Either now or on the way back, perhaps it was later as we headed home one of the abiding memories of San Francisco was formed, it summed this city up in many ways. As we walked along there were many destitute, dispossessed and excluded people, abandoned by their society, the extent of this was frankly what made it stand out for all places seem to have some aspect of this. Among the many was a chap in a wheel chair, presumably trying to sleep, a rankly unpleasant sleeping bag was draped over him. Ive never seen this before, it was a new low, a disgraceful low, the people of this town, of this state and country, i was ashamed for them, what kind of place with any sort of means to prevent it allows itself to fall so low? Not even in developing countries were the excuses for allowing it would be rich and ample to choose, had i seen something such as this, San Francisco was not a great bridge, it was not the steep rolling hills, it was an remains this – the utter and clearly deliberate, unapologetic neglect of so many and those so clearly in need of better. Shame and sadness, what have we allowed our selves to become that we can fall so low. But not all of these thoughts occurred there and then, some came later as the contrast and ketteling became clear and the systematic deliberacy of this was revealed. For now then there was just this chap, his chair and sleeping back that was cast over him, it was a horribly sad thing to see reflecting back at the abundance around us.
There was much of San Francisco that had more in common with developing world places than developed, the aged look of the public transport, the grime and dirt of the streets, the disrepair of many quarters and the streets lined with the disadvantaged.

The nearest thing i had seen to this before now was probably Glasgow, it too was a place of great shame though it was also a poor city by the standards of such things, there was no justification for it. I would go there on Family visits, head into half way – the not city center but nearest cluster of shops and commercial things and there would always be too many people, wondering about. These were working days and working hours but instead the pasty white faces with sunken eyes wondered about, the streets were never that clean with packets of fried chicken or the remnants of chips scattering some corner or another. The metal railings of the parks had once been green but the paint now fell away in slices of green, while the metal rusted. It was a city in need of quite a lot, the politics of the area were socialist yet nothing got any better. The Labour party had been in power unchallenged for so very long, the common view was you could stick a red rosette on a jobby and it would likely win. The place needed a freshen up, it needed money and a deliberate and concerted effort to move it past the loss of its industries, it received none of those things and like a times lapse video my visits to Glasgow witnessed further decline.

Yet this, San Francisco it had all places beat and it wore no hint of its shame.

Night Town San Francisco

We were headed to the north bit, past the China town area to see what we could see in the way of places to go out and first to have dinner. Some walking and some ups, downs and ups again later we had emerged roughly where we had been headed and a flourish of Italian inspired restaurants greeted us.

dell'uva san Francisco
Dell’uva Bar & Food Place

Dinner was a kind of little more bar snack like than a full meal, the service was friendly though I’m somewhat short on detail about all this. In leaving Mitch as is customary at this juncture queried the waiting staff for information on places or areas worth a visit.

There were apparently some places just around the corner, though between left and right turn instructions and first vs not first corners, something was clearly not entirely as it should be. The road had grown notably smaller, the open places had grown decidedly closeder .. and for legitimate reasons, they were residential and more broadly there was little sign of very much in terms of out options.

Corners were revisited, lefts were righted until the inexplicably taxing challenge of the grid system were overcome and the lights of prospective watering holes located. Initially we hesitated on the the Tupelo bar, it has Karaoke, always a particular treat that.

Tupelo San Francisco bar

While in the Tupelo bar we came upon a conclusion.
The conclusion sprung from whatever was going on in here, it was not Karaoke as we knew it, the mic was not being gripped in catatonic fear, strangled like a security blanket pulled in real close, the mic stand was serving no purpose as the walking stick remaining standing upright aid for which it was clearly intended..

The performances were not fueled by alcohols own bravery, the blinker of the tenth pint, a good four pints later than when the ears had last had any track of tone and the tongue any notion of enunciating anything in its mouth. As we looked on, struck by what was going on, people were doing multiple performances and these people were drinking water, they were all using the Mic as a sort of performance prop, looking out at the audience, busting moves and giving it large. It was impressive stuff, entertaining, disconcertingly so, people are meant to be roundly a bit shit, a bit volunteer circus freak, persuaded by intoxication to get over their well founded inhibitions enough to get them to the stage but not always through the performance. Then there was this… Either there was something very odd going on in San Francisco, the world outside the UK was awash with any number of people looking and sounding like the pop icons of tomorrow or…. and this was the conclusion, somewhere around here there was some sort of drama school and this lot, they were its spores.

Band Performance Music Maggie McGarrys
Live Band Music With A Small But Enthusiastic Audience

The other bar we ended up at was either next door or pretty much next door, which may convey something of the selection criteria … it was there, it was open and we didn’t what else there was or where it might be.. that’s not to say these were not fine bars, its merely that neither reputation nor amazing magnetism neon lights were at play in our considerations.

They had a band on.. The audience was dancing about, the two or three of them, they were really into it and had something about them which suggested they were perhaps, part of the bands of stage social circle.

This pub had cider though, the same little mini bottles you get when in continental Europe… before 2000 cider had been a bit of a side issue, 5L bottles of diamond white consumed in park land..then came the Alcho-Pop and all that changed and Cider discovered a new market niche as the summer refreshment of choice.. Being a beer none appreciator this flourish of Cider choices was gratefully received but it seemed reticent to spread overseas, aside from these, the mini magners.

Magners 330ml Bottle Cider
Mini Magners – The Lost Cider .. 😦

Past Trips – California, A walk in San Francisco [17]

Before leaving Id herd more than once about how great San Francisco was and myself I had any seen that as the main visit of the trip, originally having it down as a three night stay, the longest of the trip.
Already I was feeling happy for the decision not to do that, Mitch already did not much care for San Francisco and while I was trying to keep an open mind, basically I felt the same way.

We’d driven through, parked, visited our hotel and walked up from the center to the golden gate park by this point and topography aside only one bit of road had seemed remotely pleasant or interesting with a Camden alternative vibe about it.

The park which had been very sympathetically covered in the guide books was most underwhelming. Yes it was probably an bit nicer than your average park but only a bit, the lake was more an over sized pond, shallow and green in appearance now a whole lot more than the murky goose turd offering in St Albans.
It was no Regent’s Park that was for sure and modestly concerning that it could earn such substantive billing in the guide books.

Mitch was up here for his daily running about, as he jogged off I sat myself down by the lake to deal with maps, bag and possibly food.
As I sat and rummaged a chap came flustering up to me, asking about whether Id seen a bag. He was a tourist, him and his fellow tourists had parked up only to return to find a back window smashed and a bag withdrawn, the bag he was now looking for. I believe he was hoping that were it’s not so valuable contents discovered then it might be discarded.
I had nor seen any dis guarded bags and apologised that Id been unable to help, offering some most un-useful sympathy for his circumstance.

More generally I was trying to work out what I might fit into the time between now and the approximate meeting time we’d agreed to meet back up, back at the hotel.
Back in New York walking the place made a big difference. After arriving in the dark, rain falling around the taxi to some not entirely flattering first impressions, it had been the walk down through the city to the financial district and back that had started to turn that around in what went on to be one of my favourite trips.

What a holiday spirit deflating experience that must have been, smashed window stolen bag – I headed off on my still largely to be defined walk. All I’d managed to decide is Id head across (North in actuality) from here so as not to repeat the route taken on the outbound leg.

There was the customary grid system in effect, least there was back here in the less Central more residential bit of the city. I fear I can’t claim to know exactly which I traveled down so in going to go with 18th & will check a map later to see if indeed the roads go by a numeric naming system and if so where abouts the 18th one can be found.

I left the park crossed the road and wondered the residential corridor known here as 18th.

Golden Gate Park Map

2 days later, attemp to continue them trip notes … 18th .. Revisiting the map .. actually in this area, go the probably still not entirety accurate memory

San Francisco residential road

Big old residential sprawl back here and a lot more pleasant, it reminded me of Mrs doubtfire scenes, not that that adds a lot to the experience but it was painting a more movie suitable scene.

Old bmw parked San francisco

White Fire hydrant

San Francisco town house

By the not so very long time later, when I reached the end of that particular vertical stretch, there seemed some fair time left and then there was the golden gste bridge. It was up this way somewhere, on the other side of a different park or hill or something, either way it wasn’t here. I wasn’t expecting it to be – I had the map / city plan – the question I had was do I see about trying to find it abit or apply good reason and head to something more like the center.

Thing was heading back presented little of interest and would leave me vacant time, while looking for the bridge seemed like an optimistic shot at fitting comfortably in between now and the meeting up time…. Pragmatism lost out as in retrospect it was always likely to, would have been disappointed with myself if I’d just seeped back without making an effort.
San Francisco trail map

There were park trails over this way with maps and occasional signs.  First there was another hill and a path into a golf course before dropping back down on the far side within a stretch of woodland.

There were a number of routes crossing and heading off in slightly different directions, I still had no particular plan but my reason for heading over had yet to be achieved, roads and trees all that had come into view.
Woodland golden gate trails

There was quite a big old road a little further down, concrete struts holding it aloft, not particularly attractive visual addition to the woodland foreground. In the background, the backish background in a not immedialty close way, objective sort of achieved, depending on how you define thingd… I could see it, or least s top sticking out bit of it.. Golden Gate Bridge through trees

Golden gate bridge distant view
Cameras and their zoom feature

Back here in the wonder pathways where people could wounded, cycle and jog near very streight and uneven residential streets my impression of the place had indeed improved, the residential appeal was understandable, it was quirky, the dirtyness had subsided & the properties were a fair old size, though how many occupancies wasn’t of course certain, whole franciscite families may occupy a sine room, sleeping in jenga inspiring piles, though they didn’t look like they were those kind of areas.

Golden Gate Bridge San francisco fullSan Francisco warehouse building

The route Id been on dissolved, a wrong turn perhaps or just a sudden sign gap into which there were choices, junctions, options or more simply different ways to go. I never reconnected with my original route, though having passed relatively high along the coastal ridge, on a road side, I also got a distant view of Alcatraz Island, visually it was reasonably clear though in an undetailed way, the camera really had to strain at its zoom to bring it in.Alcatraz Islandbiggish building near woods with flag - maybe a hotel

After the photographic bought I picked up the pace but struggled for a time to refind any trail, having resorted to wondering through an odd sort of estate with large colonial style buildings following roads not trails i was unable to find route Id previously been following.  Eventually i did stumble upon a new trail though the exact nature of its direction was not exactly how it might be, a noticeable slice of time had now elapsed and so  getting back over to the hotel had become very much the fixed target i had in mind, what energy remained was applied to retaining as much pace in the wondering as possible.  It was a most straight and gradient wise, generally upward heading trail.

Emerging back into residential San Francisco my sense of heading was compromised by not being where i had initially intended to emerge and equally being uncertain where exactly it was that i had emerged.

What i presume was a local, most tall chap, approached me as i gazed at my map, pointing out where i was and on explaining to where i was headed, providing a handy correction to the direction i was likely to have wondered off in.   He also explained that it was quite far and that buses could be found in the proximity to help with getting back, though a change or two would be needed.  With a mind to time and the news of distance i thought upon the buses as i thanked him and headed off with my course correction to help me.

I seemed to be reasonably high upon the crest of one of the cities larger rolling hills, stood upon the north-western side.  The view took in much of the city scape from up here, and there was mini-parklet which provided the requisite space to appreciate this view and despite the intentions to head back, to pause, take it in and capture some small snapshots within the camera.
Hilly Road San Francisco
Skyline San Francisco
Panorama View San Francisco
San Francisco City View

The route was a diagonal one from here, the city planners they didnt hold much with notions of matter none perpendicular, though they had chucked in a couple of cheeky exceptions to this rule, just to through a person of the scent of things. It was a step like journey of zigging and zagging, with half an eye on California Street.. for their according to the map where the cable cars, the ones from the films, as yet unseen but with the opportunity to encounter them on route …
San Francisco Cable CarCable Car On A Hill San Francisco

I was not on time, hadn’t been for some time, my face was almost certainly a little pink with the lack of natural of fitness currently allowed to shroud all efforts and the lack of close proximity that the hotel had opted for. Progress was alright though, it wasn’t that far, not bus requiring far, giving up and getting a lift sort of distance. Eventually a more familiar feel to the surrounds emerged about me, the streets lined with that bit more grimmyness and that unbridled poverty that was the detritus in this forest of high rises.

Past Trips – California San Francisco Golden Gate Park [16]

hotel bijou Mason St CA

san francisco Hotel Bijou

Drug Dealing Corner San Francisco

Street Life People San Francisco

San Francisco Crew Hangout
Like a room with an aquarium only less gills and a bit less diverting
Room With Old Person Smell Hotel San Francisco
Room With A Sort Of Familiar Scent .. Smells A Bit Like My Scottish Grans Used To .. Not Sure What It is But Memory Smell Link Right There
San Francisco Dome Building
Heading Out

San Francisco tram

San Francisco Bus Cables

Trolley Bus San Francisco

Pub Irish US San Francisco

San Francisco Town Houses

Gradient San Francisco Houses

Route Map San Francisco
Excursion Wonder

San Francisco Road

Golden Gate Park View

Golden Gate Park Entrame
Golden Gate Park Map

Golden Gate Park Ariel View
Pilfered – Didn’t Quite Achieve This Perspective

Golden Gate Park CA San Francisco
Playing Field Golden Gate Park

Homeless Sleeping Golden Gate Park

Gnarly Tree Golden Gate Park San Francisco

Past Trips – California San Francisco Via Santa Cruz [15]

Either the Jeep was proving a lot more fuel efficient than expected or it had one big big old fuel tank. There was still plenty of fuel but it had now depleted to the point that it seemed to worth topping up.

There was a challenge thrown in our way, one we’d noticed days before and though we’d tried to, proven to be unable to get an answer. What was that fuel it was wanting, the sticker on the fuel cap requesting a very particular sort of food.. At home its all remarkably clear… Diesel, Unleaded, Electric… Black, Green, Not a liquid … This was a very specific number that had been strapped to the jeep and that number had at precisely none of the petrol stations on the route so far.

Cant remember who it was, in this mini-play/barley a scene, plot free moment, there was the friendly Californian lady who was filling up next to us and the less probable bemused faces of the petrol stations shop attendants. These were the other people who i wound up speaking to here at one point or another and from those discussions emanated the view that this was a Texan fuel, not available in California but all together quite similar to others which were… so we should just top up with that.

As for payment, well that was bizarre, you pay before you fuel up and there’s no pay at pump what so ever… so you have to guess at what amount of fuel you might need… only … and this seems to not be a purely UK thing, but the price of fuel kind of fluctuates so how, even if you know your vehicle in a way that we didn’t, how do you work out what amount of fuel you need? … we were perplexed time and time again by again when it came to fueling time, over and over again the same vastly impractical practice was the norm.
We took a punt on the amount of money that represented the now missing fuel in our tank and headed back in to pay this. Never answered was the rational for this, no time saving, no advantage seemed evident other than perhaps preventing people from fueling up and driving off without paying but how often does that really happen – a most unnecessarily unhelpful practice it is.

Petrol Station Doughnut Advert Seven ElevenSanta Cruz Coast Side

Santa Cruz Arcade Amusement Park
Not exactly Disney Land .. not been there but if this were the size of it then you’d have to really take your hat off to their marketing department .. that or the people in their fine well padded cartoon character inspired summer suits, being burnt from the inside by the embers of their once aspiring actorial ambitions and their floats were quite the game changer that they in no way appear to be.

It had a shut sort of look about it, the coastal amusement arcade and theme park, their was a roller coaster among other rides but they were very dormant. Once, not so very long ago something had been going on here, there was a concert stage out on the beach which appeared to be in the process of being disassembled.

Santa Cruz Beach Santa Cruz Concert Stage Santa Cruz Beach Concert Stage
Santa Cruz Pier

We headed down the beach to seek out something that was open and came complete with beverages and toilet facilities.
Up toward the pier, having stopped off we turned back. Up here there was a collection of locals who seemed to either homeless or otherwise economically significantly disadvantaged, they decided to pose for photos.

Santa Cruz Beach People

Beach Volley Ball Santa Cruz

We headed back to the car via the amusement arcade to move on, it wasn’t the longest stint ahead of us but we’d exhausted the opportunities to pass the time here.

San Francisco Monterey Route Map

Santa Cruz Pier

Santa Cruz Light House

Pacific Coast Cliff And WavesSand Beaches California Route One

California Route One Beach

Surfer Surfing California

Flock of Birds

Coastal View Pacific Route One

Light House

Route One California Light HousePacific Coast Beach

White Sandy Beach

Jeep Cherokee On Route One

Between the relatively short driving day that today looked like being and Mitch’s disinclination for big city driving, as established with London, (i have no idea which of these it was) the driving was swapped over much to my satisfaction… it makes little sense, the scenery is amazing and you can appreciate far more readily as the passenger, yet i enjoyed the experience all the more when driving.

San Francisco Double Decker Fly Over
Arriving in San Francisco

San Francisco Driving