San Francisco Dreamin’

It’s late. I’ll try to make this short, although I’m not sure how well I’ll succeed. It’s 11.35pm, and the kids are up drawing in their hotel bedroom – their body clocks (and mine) are still on Australian time. Every night we try to make it a little earlier, but that’s the way of holidays too: late nights and sleep ins and precious little in the way of routine. It’s been lovely. I’m kinda tired now though. Here’s a brief rundown, mostly in pictures, of what we’ve been doing and where we’ve been.

Our house in San Francisco was a small piece of wonder. Located in the Mission District, which is apparently the oldest area of SF, it was an old house filled with art works, curios, books and collectibles enough to make me drool, and wish I could stay a month and simply dream and read.

Art and stuffed animals

Art in the toilet

IMG_5997Yes, that is an oil painting hanging in a toilet. Yes, that is a stuffed pheasant. There was a bison’s head and a deer’s head as well. And a five-foot crudely carved crucifix. I loved it.

And there were friends! The reason we came to San Francisco was to see Steve and Theresa and their girls, and we had such a wonderful time catching up with them. If people make a place, then they made San Francisco for us. We did the tourist thing as well though (of course!) and made our way down to Pier 39. I was shocked by the contrast between “regular” San Francisco and the tourist version (OMG so many TOURISTS!), and felt very privileged to be able to see both sides. Regular side is grottier, of course, and with  many, MANY less white people. It’s a fascinating city, and I found the architecture and layout quite unique. There are no suburbs, just masses and masses of city. No front gardens. All the houses joined up for block after block after block. Flat roofs. Dense, dense housing. And the hills!

San Francisco Mission District

 

You may notice the no parking sign. They were really common. We were told that parking is atrociously hard in SF, and it’s true! You are allowed to park in your garage, but not in your driveway (the part of the footpath/sidewalk leading up to your garage), or you could be up for a $350 ticket. You can park on the street, but not on Tuesday mornings (here, other days elsewhere) when they clean the streets. No idea where you have to put your car when they’re cleaning though…maybe you just have to drive around until it’s time to come home again.

Pier 39 sealsYes, those brown things are seals. Live, smelly, noisy, honking ones. The story goes that the city built a marina for the boats and the seals just took it over. No joke. It’s a tourist attraction in it’s own right. Off to the right (outside the frame of the photo) is the Golden Gate Bridge, and further around, in the bay, is Alcatraz. Pier 39 is full of shops, restaurants, tourist attractions, you name it, it’s there.

Bubba Gump Shrimp CoYes, even a fictional Shrimp company. Check out all those people! This was on a Thursday, and after peak season too.

Jellyfish IMG_6107

Aquarium

 

And an Aquarium! The boys spent their money in the gift shop, and we’ve now welcomed to our family a fluffy sting ray, and a fluffy octopus. An ugly creature, really, but highly intelligent. And, so it seems, a great companion when you’re 4.

So there you have it for San Francisco. A city well worth a visit, but when even the taxi drivers tell you not to drive there you realise you’ve got to take that seriously. We did…after we got our rental car. But it’s late, and that, my friends, is another story.

Good night!

 

 

 

 

 

Packing

If you’ve been reading this for any length or time, or if you are at all familiar with what’s happening in my world, you may just be aware that I’m heading off on a Grand Adventure in (oh MY) seven days’ time, on my first ever overseas trip, to the USA. I’m packing. It feels wrong. I’m reminded of all the times we went on family holidays to Melbourne when I was a little kid, and I wasn’t allowed to wear half my clothes for about two weeks leading up to the trip, because I might need them in Melbourne.

I used to laugh. We have a washing machine, and it does things pretty much all by itself. It’s not on a roster, we can use it any day of the week!

I’m a grown-up now, and have been for a number of years, and have been on countless grown-up trips to Melbourne, where I’ve casually thrown a few choice pieces of clothes into a small suitcase the night before. No big deal. Sometimes I’d go with just carry-on.

Oh the rebellion. Oh the freedom!

But now I’m packing.

One week to go, and already I’ve decided that there’s enough to think about without wondering whether my favourite jeans are clean, or whether that red top I like so much will be dry in time. I just don’t care. I’m packing. It feels wrong. But then again it felt wrong four weeks ago when I baked two cakes, a zucchini loaf, pumpkin slice and Anzac bikkies and froze them all (oh okay, we ate the Anzacs already) in individually-wrapped portions for the children’s lunch boxes while I’m away. Doesn’t feel so silly now. Now I’m glad they’re there.

Now I’ll happily wear the same top and the same trousers for the next few days, because I like them. And because the weather is warm chances are I’ll wash them tomorrow, and wear them again for a few days after that as well.

Here’s the irony though: I like this top. I like these trousers. They’re comfortable, they’re flattering, they’re very Me. Chances are I’ll wash them the day before I go and wear them on the plane. Chances are I’ll wear them for quite a lot of the time I’m over there. Chances are that all the rest of these things that I MUST have clean because I MUST take with me will spend quite a lot of their first overseas holiday staring at the inside of my suitcase. It’s happened before. I’ve lugged all kinds of things around the country and never worn them.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

How about you? Are you an over-packer? An under-packer? A last-minuter? A don’t-wear-it-for-a-month-just-to-keep-it-clean-er? Got any great packing tips for me? I’d love to hear.