We eventually arrived at our hotel after nearly 24 hours travel. The redwood Inn is a typical American motel type run by a lovey friendly Chinese family but you wouldn’t be surprised if you found a dead body in the back stairs. The clientele appears to be similar to us (cheap skates, or as I like to call it “willing to try out a new hotel experience”). The owner, a lovely man with bad breath, gave us a map and a whistle stop guide to the city, even crossing out areas which weren’t safe to visit (I was relieved he didn’t cross out the back staircase ). We took our keys and retired to our room. The all important wifi proved elusive and so I went and asked him about it. We did a bit of rebooting of ipads and then the owner rebooted the whole system (I hope one of the other guests wasn’t Skyping anyone). We got one gadget working, which was fine. The managers parting shot was “get some sleep, you work to hard”. How did he know that? Was in cahoots within the woman from Manchester airport? Was I actually living in an Orwellian nightmare? Or was I just sleep-deprived? Probably the latter.

When I got back to the room the the first decision of the night was which of the 2 queen size beds were we going to sleep in. We opted for the one furthest away from the traffic noise. Once settled I inevitably turned on the tv. It was gone 11:00 and so time to watch a late night chat show. (It takes more than depriving me of sleep for 24 hours to stop me getting my tv fix! I decided to watch Jay Leno as we had tickets to go and see him the following week when we are in LA. I had forgotten just how big his chin was. It enters frame several seconds before he does. He makes Bruce Forsyth look like Gail Platte (nee Tyldlsley) from Corrie. Typical Americans, have to do things biggest and better than us. Sylvester Stallone was his guest which as my cue to get some sleep.

The next day the hotel offered a token breakfast of either donuts, iced donuts or if you wanted the healthy choice, a banana muffin (which I took as one of my 5 a day). After increasing our chances of type 2 diabetes we made tracks for Fisherman’s wharf, which is a bit like Blackpool with sun. Like Blackpool they have an un convincing wax works; a Ripleys Believe it but they have the added attraction off beggars ( best sign on a piece of cardboard “I’ll be honest, I just want the money for another beer”). One thing which I hadn’t realised until we were going through immigration yesterday and they we talking about “increased security alerts” was that today is Sept 11th. It was quite sad to see all the flags at half mast.

We escaped Fisherman’s wharf to take a bus around Frisco (as the locals, and Sister Sledge, refer to it). It was your usual run of the mill history of the city etc. when it took a slightly strange turn (literally). We turned into the area of the city called Tenderloin, which I immediately recognised as It was the area which my halitosis suffering friend had warned me not set foot in. What was this, some twisted plan by the tour operators to fleece all the tourists? No. It was just the most bizarre exercise of social education that I have ever come across. The audio guide is informing me how rough this area is, how tourists should never come here at night but how a charity is doing good works to help the homeless when suddenly there it is. A row of homeless people waiting to go into a soup kitchen. Now at this point every reasonable person has to ask the question “is this really something I want to take a picture of?”. Luckily none of my fellow passengers were reasonable people and had no qualms hanging over the side of the open top bus to take photos. Then it got even more bizarre. The homeless began waving and cheering at us! I felt like TeamGB at the parade. Some waved, some gave the peace sign, one man dropped his pants and then we were off into the next neighbourhood. Surreal. The bus journey turned into a sort of Knowsely Safari Park for humans with Tenderloin being the equivalent of the monkey enclosure.

The rest of the journey became very mundane after that (yeah, yeah, you’ve had a couple of earthquakes) and ended with a trip across the golden gate bridge I the fog with a gale force side wind. Note to self: wear a jumper tomorrow.

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