I remember being on a flight from Dunedin to Christchurch during a university holiday, and figuring out how long it would take me to save for a flight to San Francisco.
At least until I graduate, I decided.
We arrived after dark, and spent the next day seeing as much of the city as possible.
We took the Bart and then the ferry to the seaside town of Sausalito.
It was a surreal moment, pulling away from the port and seeing the San Fran skyline in front of us.
Sausalito is for walking and Mexican food, so we wandered and ate, wandered and ate.
When we got back, the weather had turned. With the wind and grey skies, I felt quite at home.
More walking. Along the piers, to Fisherman’s Wharf. I know it’s cliché, but I just had to have a bread-bowl of chowder at Boudin Bakery.
The best $7 I spent all trip? The cable car: from one end of town to the other.
We squeezed on the narrow wooden bench, leaning forward and back as people jumped on and off.
The wind picked up as we rattled through the neighbourhoods. My eyes stung, but I tried not to blink.
The terraced houses were flicking before my eyes, just like in that magazine on the plane those years ago.
We were heading to a comedy show, recommended by one of the theatre’s regulars.
Searching through the Tenderloin, I’ll admit there was a moment, probably after a guy with a big dog yelled rude words at us, that I wondered if we should give up trying to find the place and call it a night.
But around another corner, there it was: PianoFight.
The bar was packed. It was like stepping through the looking glass.
Sitting among a handful of locals and laughing at, and with, these improv performers (very good performers, I’ll add)… that was the highlight of the day.
We didn’t neglect Oakland. We also caught up with family friends who took us to a beer garden which would give Portland’s hipsters a run for their money. Very cool place.
Well, we didn’t go to Alcatraz, we were underwhelmed by the Golden Gate Bridge, SFMOMA was closed, but we loved The Bay Area for its people. Oh, and its pretty houses.