Tuesday, August 5, 2008

30th July - San Francisco - Hawaii

Up early and checked out by 8am. Luggage went into storage for the day. We then wandered down to the bus to use our off/on ticket for the second day. First stop this time was the botanical gardens again - but this time we walked over to the Conservatory of Flowers. We saw no sqirrels this time, but we did see warnings about wild coyote's in the area, warning us not to approach them if we did see them. We didn't.

Conservatory of Flowers were fascinating - much bigger than Auckland's Wintergardens, with over 29,000 varietires of plants. At one end they also had a butterfly exhibit. I saw my first 'american bumble bee' So different to our big black and yellow striped ones.

Back on the bus and our next stop was Fisherman's Wharf. I bought another jacket to bring home for $20. We also had clam chowder in a sourdough bun again for lunch. Couldn't resist as it was so yum. By this time it was getting late, so back on the bus to Coit Tower.

I found this interesting as I have read the book 'The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill' which has immortalised this whole area. We walked from the bus, up the hill, up the hill, up the hill, then up up up the stairs. This was steeper than the worlds steepest street. My legs still hurt from it 4 days later. Beautiful area though, and I recognised many things from the book. We paid $4.50 to go up the tower, to find the tower encased in glass so not good for taking pictures. I found this price a bit of a rip off actually, as we were finished within minutes, but then had a 20 minute wait in line to get the elevator back to the bottom. However, we were running late - we had to be back at the hostel by 3pm to get a taxi to the airport by 3.15pm. It was 2.40 so I persuaded the others in linne that we had a plane to catchand would they mind letting us through first. They did :)

We hightailed it back to the bus, but going down the hill was slow because of my balance and we had just missed one. There was no way we could wait half an hour for the next one so we found a rude taxi driver who took offense over everything I said as he misunderstood that I was admiring the victorian houses, instead he thought I was telling him where to turn. He got really argumentative and aggressive. Because of it we didn't want to tip him, but he wouldn't give us the correct change so he got his tip anyway. Cheeky sod.

We waited for the shuttle to take us out to the airport on the corner of Derby Lane and Taylor street where our hostel was. Also on the corner was a massage parlour. Seems we could please no one today as one of the 'madame's' came out and told us we couldn't loiter on the corner as it wouldn't please her clientele. We told her that wasn't our problem, and that we were waiting for a shuttle to take us to the airport and we weren't moving. She disappeared back inside, but she kept a beady eye on us the whole time. Weird.

To be honest - I loved the places we saw in San Francisco - Muir Woods, all the places we visited by bus, the treatment the police gave us - all were very positive experiences, but I hated the bums, the stench of urine in the streets as we walked, and hated being harrassed for 'change, change' by these same people all the time. One even followed us. Those experiences weren't so positive.

At the airport we nearly missed our plane. We wandered in and asked where the Air New Zealand counter was. They told us at counter 3, but it wouldn't open until 5.30pm. I wondered about this as our flight was at 6.55pm and I thought that was late. However, we went and had a coffee, and I remembered that we had to try and unlock our cellphones so we could use them back home in New Zealand. Not being able to use a phone, we asked twopoliceman having a break to help us. That they did - rang the 611 for customer service and got our phones semi unlocked. We were told that an email would be sent to us and we had to reply using an unlock code number within 24 hours. Not a problem. Again wonderful service from San francisco's finest.

By this time it was 5.30pm and we wandered back to counter 3 to find no lanes unopened, so while I went to the restroom, I got Mike to ask again. Turned out that our flight was an alliance flight with United Airlines ande had been given the wrong info, and final check in time was fast approaching. An airport official found us a trolley, loaded our suitcases on it, and we raced to the terminal. We tried to check in using fast check in to find we coudn't so had to join a long queue. Hearts beating, hot and bothered, and in front of an old man who continually farted something terrible. People as far as 6 or 7 back were holding their coats/scarves/tshirts over their noses it was so bad. I hid in my coat.

Finally the old man got served and left and the air pollution gradually cleared and before long we were finally at the counter checking in. Unfortunately Mike was overweight again in his baggage, so he was dividing things between suitcases. Unfortunately, because we were on such a tight timeframe, he got flustered, and his behaviour was noted as suspicious. So as we were going through security we were separated and Mike was tested for drugs. Oh well - all adds to the experience of travelling. I also set off the alarms - my bra wires do that to me every time. One of these days I''m going to go through airport security topless. Might save time.

No sooner we got through security - we were racing down to our plane. It took off as soon as we were seated, however we were not the last ones on the plane. Close though! Flight to Hawaii uneventful. Arrived at 9pm Hawaii time and got a shuttle to our Hotel. I was exhausted so went straight to bed, however Mike's mum and her partner was also here, so Mike stayed up talking to them.

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