Thursday, June 10, 2010

San Francisco - An experience out of the ordinary (May 27-June 2)

San Francisco….where do we start!!? Our time was a little out of the ordinary to say the least! We arrived in the Bay area around 5pm in the afternoon and of course because we are the non-workers right now, we neglected to consider peak hour traffic! Hmmm…I’m glad Tim was driving!! He handled it brilliantly! Surprisingly he was very calm! Lol.

In a previous post, you may remember reading that we were offered a place to stay in San Francisco (or at least a place to park our van) …..complete strangers who agreed to host us. As we made our way toward their house, we weren’t sure what to expect other than the fact that they were obviously really nice, trusting people because they were hosting us on the basis of knowing absolutely nothing about us!

As soon as we met Claudia and Edgar we were no longer strangers– they greeted us with such enthusiasm and cracked open a bottle of Napa champagne to toast to ‘new friends’! We instantly hit it off and spending time with them was our biggest highlight of being in San Francisco. More about this shortly…

Of course we did spend a couple of days doing the touristy things – Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town, rode the cable car, Pier 39 etc and all of these were great! We can completely understand why San Fran is rated by so many as their favourite city in the world. So much culture, diversity, an endless amount of things to do and some incredible sights like the Golden Gate Bridge. And we can’t forget the food!! It is the American Mecca for foodies. Yes, we did fit in well! At one point we considered migration, but quickly realised how much trouble we would be in with all our family and friends in Oz! ;-)

So what was meant to be 3 nights staying with Claudia & Edgar ended up being 6 and if we didn’t have a lot of other places to visit before returning the camper, could well have been a lot longer. These guys felt like family moments after meeting them and after only a few days we felt like we’d been friends for years. We had so much fun hanging out, chatting into the wee hours of the morning, sharing stories and laughing until we cried….mostly over miscommunications due to differences in our accents. One example….I told them my Dad was a retired fisherman and they thought I said my Dad was a retarded fisherman. Another example – offering to make Claudia some breakfast (muesli from the purple box) and what she heard was ‘do you want some muslim from the purple box?’ These miscommunications became running jokes the whole time we were with them.

The night we arrived, Claudia cooked us ‘real’ Mexican Enchiladas and with both Claudia & Edgar being Chicanos (from Mexican descent) they definitely know how to do them extremely well! We were also spoilt with a traditional Mexican breakfast called chilaquiles – fried tortillas with eggs, salsa & cheese. Very very good!! We quickly discovered that Claudia & Edgar are foodies like us and we enjoyed sharing in good food and food stories. Through Claudia’s business (supplying gourmet produce and products to restaurants, wineries etc) she was so kind to put us in touch with some really good places to eat in SF and the wine regions.

We stayed in SF during the US Memorial Day long weekend and there were a whole lot of things going on around the city. One of the days we spent with Claudia & Edgar in the East Bay area where they live….we went to the Berkley Farmer’s market where we sampled some really good food – the meatless tacos and cardamom ice cream sandwich were particularly memorable. While Claudia & Edgar had a family gathering, they dropped us off to have a look around Berkley – particularly Telegraph street, where the hippie movement was birthed. We discovered some amazing thrift/2nd hand shops and other funky clothing stores. We had to make a decision there and then that we would stop going into clothing shops no matter how funky they looked because we were only torturing ourselves (none of the clothes would fit in our backpacks to take home and posting is expensive). We were all excited about going out that night to a salsa club in the city and we had planned to meet Claudia and Edgar back at their house to leave from there. By the time we got back we were all exhausted and decided to have a night in with wine, cheese & movies. We needed to preserve our energy for what was to come the next day. I (Sal) the lightweight, didn’t even make it through the first movie before venturing off to bed!

The following day we went with Claudia & Edgar to the SF Annual Carnavale which is a massive cultural festival held in the heart of SF’s cultural district (The Mission). It was an absolute blast! Incredible street parade with so much colour, cultural costumes, music, acrobats & dancers. The streets were packed with at least 30,000 people if not more originating from the four corners of the world. It literally felt like we were no longer in America! We really had to pinch ourselves at that point – we were so privileged to be hanging out with some local people at one of SF’s biggest event of the year! Another highlight of that day was eating at one of the Mission’s best restaurant’s called Limon who specialise in Peruvian food! OMG! So good! It was our first time eating Peruvian and what a treat – difficult to describe, but basically grilled meats & vegies with the most incredible spices!

After Carnavale, Claudia & Edgar drove us on a mini tour of the Golden Gate Park area of SF. We ate and drank at the famous ‘Cliffhouse’ on Ocean Beach and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping to take some pics before heading back to their house.

Leaving Claudia & Edgar was hard…..when you meet like-minded people who you instantly connect with and become life-long friends in such a short space of time, it’s not easy to say goodbye.

Claudia & Edgar, we hope you are reading this….we feel so blessed and privileged to have spent time with you in your beautiful home and city. You have enriched our experience so much and we want to thankyou for opening your lives to us. We have created amazing memories together that we will cherish for years to come! Looking forward to seeing you both in Oz soon! x


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