San Francisco, CA
Well despite the aircraft going technical for 10 mins before take off, we dropped lucky with that flight – there were just us two between three seats so we had both length and girth (oo-err) this time. I slept most of the way, so for me it seemed like a really short flight over the Pacific instead of a 12-hour sit-in-the-dark-a-thon. Wendy said she slept a good deal too. Maybe we’re getting the hang of these long-hauls. Somehwere about 10pm Auckland time we crossed the International Date Line, which sort of made it Friday 30th morning all over again. It doesn’t pay to think about it too much I find.
We arrived 30 mins early at San Francisco and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I am going to say controversial stuff now, but American immigration was fast, the guy on the desk was chatty, friendly and cheerful and our cases were among the first dozen off the aircraft. This contrasts with everything I have been used to at New York or LA in the past. Mind you, I have never had all my fingerprints scanned to enter a country before! We then had to catch a wee train thingy (a bit like Hong Kong but free) to the rental car place – all the hire companies are in a big building together, side-by-side. It’s super efficient. We even kept our baggage trolley right up to the car boot (sorry, trunk). We’re with Budget car rental here and the lady on the desk was really helpful. She even offered us a free upgrade to a Beetle convertible, however given the amount of junk, sorry luggage, we have I thought it best to stick with the trusty Ford Focus.
I’ve chickened out this time and borrowed a satnav and frankly it’s been worth it every single inch of the way. The Budget car lady had put the motel in and the airport car return place, so basically we followed the bossy British voice to Days Inn on Lombard and it was pretty much a doddle (apart from the amount of traffic). I thought traff was a bit heavy for a dinnertime Friday, but when we got to the motel all was explained – apparently the Bay Bridge is ‘broke’ today (stop me if I get too technical here) and all the traff is heading over the Golden Gate. Unfortunately Lombard feeds directly on to Hwy 101 over the Golden Gate… say no more.
Anyway we didn’t hang around long in the motel. Instead we took the car down to Fisherman’s Wharf as it was such a lovely day (about 21 degrees C too – not bad for the end of Oct!) and did some exploring. Walked the length of the Embarcadero and down Pier 39 for a look at the treasure (ahem) shops the tourist stuff and the sea lions. Everything seems so amazingly cheap after New Zealand. It was alright, very alright. Finally ended up in Bourdin Bakery (another ‘world famous’ place) having some of their sourdough sandwiches and fries for tea. The satnav brought us home again without a hitch and thats the end of a very long birthday for Wendy indeed!