Postcard from the Edge of a Bay

So, off to the West Coast for a bit of Californ-i-a hospitality and American culture. However, the first thing you are reminded of when arriving is the air-headedness of some locals. This starts in San Francisco airport, on the day that the new mono-rail to the car rental is put in to service. Here charming staff direct you in the wrong direction out to the stop where the now non-existent buses don’t leave from. Eventually, finding the Hertz desk, you are assigned a “luxury” car, something the size of a boat with as much acceleration as a tortoise emerging from hibernation. But the air conditioning works.

The first week is spent working, but then the weekend comes and it is off to the city. The whole area around San Francisco is beautiful at this time of the year where everything is still a lush green. Three weeks later, everything turns a poopy brown colour as the flora and fauna dries out and dies – this is how California gets its name “the Golden State”.

Surprisingly, San Francisco has a lot to offer culturally. First stop was “Haight and Ashbury” home of flower power (and numerous people still enjoying the culture olfactorially). Then off to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where amongst a lot of expensive crud, the photos of Andreas Gursky stand out as an absolute highlight. I am not sure what kind of camera he uses to produce breathtaking photos 6 foot x 8 foot, but it is certainly not a Kodak instamatic.

Then off to Alcatraz, where they simulate how desperate the inmates were to escape by locking you up in the hospital wing and give you a half an hour “tour” that is so mind-numbingly boring you are desperately looking for escape routes after 10 minutes. I ended up toying with a shirt button, ready to use it as tool to dig though solid concrete if I got the chance when the tour-guide’s (=warden) back was turned.

American cuisine sometimes can sometimes leave a bad taste, but after being released from Alcatraz, and finding the sole remaining parking space in Mission (a suburb of San Francisco) and dodging anti-war protestors, we encountered a Mexican restaurant where I had one of the best meals of my life, a tasty burrito that was so big I could not finish it (who said quality and quantity can’t go together?). Another culinary highlight was also, surprisingly, a hamburger at a new chain called “In and Out Burger” – their claim to fame is that that they have “never owned a freezer or microwave”. All food is freshly prepared / baked / grilled / sliced there and then, and you can really taste it. McDonald will have to watch its back.

The rest of the week was spent in San Diego – flying there and back in a private jet and enjoying the most spectacular views of Los Angeles on the way. But after all the travelling it is good to be back home.

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