Welcome to San Francisco

April 03, 2012

Welcome to San Francisco

I am without doubt the world’s worst sleeper on planes.  And that’s even flying at the pointy end of the plane.  No amount of flatbed has ever enticed me to the land of nod before.  Not that I’ve flown long haul many times but on the relatively few flights that I’ve done, I’ve mostly managed to use points and get upgrades – I’ve been lucky in the extreme.  I blame my husband for this affectation.  You see he’s been a business traveller since his mid 20s and doesn’t like to entertain the thought of flying ‘down the back’ these days.  Although we did a couple of years ago on my first trip to the US and after what amounted to about 27 hours of flying hell to New York, I vowed I would re-mortgage the house not to do that again.  So I’m not – doing that again – this time at least (and yes the mortgage will suffer!)  Last night I had my first ever good sleep on a plane.  All thanks to my new friends Adele and Phenergan (and no I wouldn’t advocate anyone else try this but for me it worked a treat).  I discovered Phenergan recently when I was plagued with some nasty allergies.  I came to realise that a whole tablet was a bit like an elephant tranquiliser but half would put me to sleep just nicely.  Adele, I’ve known of for quite some time – if only from a distance.  So I took the tablet and popped on the headphones, selecting Adele’s 21 album and I slept – not soundly – I woke up every hour or so and at one stage heard a message from the pilot which made me think I’d been asleep about ten minutes – but apparently not.  I slept from about 7.30pm Australian time to around 1.30am – for me a record breaker.  My husband on the other hand is usually asleep before the plane leaves the ground but this time he was wide awake and watched me snooze.  He looked exhausted.

We flew United and I have to say that apart from the fried grub garnishing the spinach in my dinner it was, by and large, a very good experience.  The flight attendants were friendly enough – although the red haired woman had clearly been doing this quite a while.  Her manner could perhaps be described as officious to say the least.  However, upon learning of my spinach interloper she did appear with two vouchers and an apology – we have to log on to see what we’ve ‘won’. The seats were comfortable and the passengers generally very quiet and considerate, apart from the older woman in front of us who coughed her way from one side of the Pacific to the other.  Even her travelling companions – another couple sitting opposite made mention of it, ‘Patty really needs to see a doctor about that cough of hers.’   I hope that we were far enough away to dodge the germs.

Our arrival into SF was really smooth and the immigration official was chatty and friendly – which was very different to my only other experience in the US.  I had told my very affable husband not to joke around – it wouldn’t be appreciated.  How wrong I was!  The cab line was small, the cab driver efficient and we arrived at our hotel to the friendliest greeting of any place I’ve ever stayed. 

In the afternoon we headed out on a sparkling clear day to get our bearings.  I had always imagined SF to be a much larger city but apparently the population is around 850,000.  I think about half of them were in Union Square and the insanely enormous department stores that run around its perimeter and beyond.  I decided not to inflict any shopping on Ian – he was still a bit fragile after the lack of sleep but I’ve noted their locations and I will go back – if only just for a look.  We have weight limits on the next three flights! 

We hopped on one of the double decker tour buses – apparently there are four companies which all look deceptively similar.  Our driver took us around the city and down towards Fisherman’s Wharf.  On the way we passed through SF’s Little Italy which has loads of restaurants.  We saw the world’s most crooked street – where driver’s queue up to take a run down the 8 switch back turns.  We then headed out past the old military barracks, The Presidio that now house a range of other businesses including George Lucas’s studios.  I think our driver must have had a thing for George and his films because if he mentioned it once he mentioned it ten times!  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge which is truly impressive.  There were hundreds of people walking and riding over it too despite the icy wind.

But the view, although hazy was great and you could see across the bay to Alcatraz and to the city and the Bay Bridge – which I think we have to negotiate on Tuesday.

Hoping to sleep well.  My first Alice-Miranda tour day is tomorrow at a girls’ school called Hamlin in Pacific Heights.  Looking forward to it.



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