12$ US = 16 AUD$.....
(click on a photo for a larger version)
So here I am in San Francisco, finally after much angsting and packing of huge duffle bags with alpine boots, harness and rock climing shoes, kitchen sink...
Very pleasant 14 hour flight with Virgin. We were in front row, so lots of legroom. Little alcoves near the toilets with self-serve fruit, chocolate, soft drinks...
Water bottle, eye mask as standard for all seats... great idea. Well dressed and professional staff.
Acting as a guide for my 80 yr old mother who has never been to the USA. She has van camped and hiked extensively in France, NZ, Australia... and likes hiking in National Parks.
Myself, I was here in 2000 for a month... greyhounded the west from LA to the grand Canyon, rocky mnts, grand Tetons, Mt Rainer and back to LA. Hitchhiking into the smaller towns. First Hitch from was Sedona Arizona to Flagstaff .. on the back of a Harley japanese copy with 2 bike tourers... with a huge trek pack , solo tent - winding my way up the gorge past rocky mesas and pine trees - Navajo country...
I will be doing some longer day hikes and overnight hikes also .
We are struck by the smiles and friendliness of the Americans, and do a short walk in South san fran downtown, 10 min away from the citigarden hotel where we are.
Really nice old buildings tiny restaurants - thai, viet, mexican, argentinian.. lots of barber shops with those really 60s chrome chairs.
I walk into a mobile phone shop and start talking to the clerk, then realise he doesnt speak much English.. "habla ingles ?" - "un poquito" ..
so I use my basic Spanish mixed with English. People around speak Spanish to each other, Half the ads around me are in Spanish, and the radio is on a Spanish station.... no need to go to South America to learn Spanish... I could stay right here and with the immersion and practice get working Spanish in a month... Especially if I did sports or some other activity with Latinos.
I go back to the area with my mother, and we notice that even though it's rush hour, no-one seems to be rushing... traffic is polite. Of Course, this is not NYC but still... everyone in Aus seems to be rushing all the time in the traffic.
At the Hotel, soft drinks from dispensers for 1$ US (1.30 AUS$). Buffet chinese/ seafood for 15$. We eat a Denny's just down the road... very reasonable prices. As You can see from the alaskan salmon above 16$ ... would cost 30$ in Aus and you wouldn't get as much. Full Breakfasts are also way cheaper then Aus.
Overall, it's very exciting being in the USA ... as always. It starts at the airport with the no-nonsense custom officer who is a muscly Asian who asks me what job I do etc , and is surprised I can take 2 months off... the usual meeting of 9-5 ers and free livers... But he seems impressed by my answers. Americans are refreshingly Direct , but are impressed if you show them who you are and stand your ground.
The staff all say hi to each other and kind of pat each other on the back mentally... a feature I really like in the USA. Makes a change from French staff in such industries who look like they want to shoot themselves or the customer...
He takes fingerprints with a scanner, asks Rosemary a few questions and we get through.
Our Huge bags arrive no problem and we are not held up.
We sleep well , jet lagged. And the today we will collect the Jucy Van at San Leandro, and off to Lake Tahoe to chill.