Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

If I were you and you were me
21st December 2010


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We were reluctant to get up this morning. It meant the beginning of the end.

Of course we eventually had to get up and make a start on our packing but with our pick up for the airport arranged for 1:30pm we had plenty of time.

Once we got going though it was surprising how quick we shoved everything into our suitcases with a promise of a breakfast waiting for us. We were checked out by 9:30am, Perfect timing for Honey Honey.

After yesterday's disappointingly bland Huevos Rancheros I decided to play to their strengths. Being a crepery as well as a cafe I just had to go for the savoury pancake.

It was filled with cheddar cheese, onion, tomato, feta cheese, artichokes, olives and avocado. It was totally gorgeous and the fried potato on the side was perfect.

Whilst in the cafe we made full use of the free wi-fi Skyping Hannah.

Phoning home has been painfully expensive having gone through £70 on my phone and it doesn't bare thinking how much on Julie's phone. (It turned out to be around the same) Access to the internet was also useful as we checked the weather forecast for back home and the status of Heathrow airport. It was good news as it had re-opened last night and was frantically catching up with the backlog of stranded planes trying to get back home for Christmas.

We couldn't stay at the cafe all day, although our coffee was being continually topped up encouraging us to stay. Before we got sick on the caffeine hit we headed out onto the streets of San Francisco and wandered down hill towards Union Square.

For the first time I took a little more notice of what was in front of my eyes.

For example, we noticed that each building had it's own fire hydrant built into the wall outside at street level.

Most were just bog standard steel fixings but the ones outside The Westin St.Francis Hotel were impressively shiny and polished brass.

Apparently the city's fire code requires all high rise buildings to have a standpipe available for the fire department to attached a hose. After the 1906 earthquake half the city was destroyed not by the quake but by fire so you could understand why they took it seriously here.

As we crossed into Union Square we came across an old Police Telephone box. It wasn't as big as Dr. Who's Tardis, you couldn't walk inside this one. It literally was a phone inside a blue box where a police officer could unlock and find a direct line to the nearest station.

Obviously they are not in use anymore, telecommunications have come a long way since those days. There are hundreds of them still dotted around the city, apparently.

Another thing we associate with American cities are those newspaper dispensers. Every movie has someone shoving two quarters into a slot and pulling out a New York Herald or a Daily Planet then pensively looking up to the sky.

It's strange how interesting the unfamiliar becomes. We just don't have them in the UK. I'm sure people wondered what the hell I was doing photographing these battered and bruised paper vending boxes.

They looked so bashed I thought that perhaps they were also from a bygone era but the copy of the San Francisco Chronicle was actually today's.

After browsing, again, in the window of Tiffany's & Co we decided to find the Paul Frank store we saw yesterday. It's amazing how popular the banal little British monkey brand has become. There's no accounting for taste is there?

Having said that we did buy Freya a little pair of pink leggings with the monkey logo all over it. It sort of works for kids clothes. Julie also bought a black crochet hat which didn't have any cartoon primates on it and was the most tasteful thing in the shop.

On the way back to Union Square we came across another Great British brand that's recognised the world over. Parked on the roadside on Grant Avenue was a stunning 1950s Silver Wraith Rolls Royce.

I'm probably the least excitable when it comes to cars but even I couldn't help but be impressed. It looked absolutely gorgeous. You could give me one of them over a banana yellow Bugati any day.

Back in Union Square we sat down with a coffee and watched the skaters glide around the ice rink.

Well, some were gliding, others were kind of shuffling along like they'd wet themselves. The novices were far more entertaining than the show offs but at least they were having a go. Julie nor I had no desire to get on the ice.

I recalled (again!) my one and only ice skating experience and showed Julie the scar on my thumb to excuse myself from having to skate. I have a lifetime excuse from ever ice skating again.

Have I not mentioned it before? I was sixteen when I went on a school trip to the Deeside Leisure Centre, a two hour coach trip away. I'm sure I've told this story before .. anyway ...

I was doing OK and just getting the hang of it when a friend of mine slipped, grabbed on to me and pulled me down with him. We both got up and noticed a lot of blood on the ice. I didn't realise that it was mine until he pointed it out. I'd sliced open my thumb, right on the joint. We could see the bone, which at the time we thought was awesome! So, anyway, that's why I will never ice skate again.

With jolly jingle bell music accompanying the skaters, then seeing police officers riding horses with Santa hats and then meeting the real Father Christmas himself (he had a great beard!) it was finally beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Encouraged by our festive mood we popped into Macy's to get even more Christmas cheer but we came straight back out again. It felt so claustrophobic in there, heaving with crazed Xmas shoppers we could hardly breathe.

Back out on the streets we needed to find somewhere to sit. We were too tired to just wander around aimlessly.

We ruled out pulling up a stool at the Gold Dust bar, that would be a bad idea, choosing instead to have something to eat. It was ridiculous; we had finished breakfast only two and a half hours ago and we were walking into a diner called the Pinecrest Restaurant on the corner of Mason and Geary looking for lunch.

They boasted that they served the "Best Breakfast in San Francisco" but we seriously doubted their claim. It reminded us of a greasy spoon we used to called Dirty Gerty's!

That didn't stop us from eating here though.

The food to be fair it tasted better than I expected from somewhere that stayed open 24 hours a day.

As we were stuffing our faces congratulating ourselves on our gluttony, we looked out of the window to see this guy in a black hoody wheeling a large suitcase behind him. He looked like your average tourist until he stopped by the side of a bin and reached in. He was obviously a homeless guy, he was also hungry. He rummaged around and pulled out the end of a bun that had been discarded. Without any hesitation he shoved it in.

We felt ever so guilty. "I should take him our fries?" I suggested. But we didn't. We just sat there and watched the poor wretched soul walk away towards his next potential food station whilst we finished our veggie burger and southern fried chicken feeling guilty with every mouthful.

By 1:30pm we had left the Pinecrest Diner and were back at the Clift Hotel waiting for our pick up. We were expecting a "shuttle bus" but we were pleasantly surprised when a shiny black limo arrived with blackout tinted windows.

It was nice to be finally chauffeured in style, a fitting rock star ending to our rock and roll trip.


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