It’s been a super busy year, juggling three jobs and training for the World Transplant Games, but the main thing that has kept me going was the thought of my September trip to the USA. Encompassing both west and east coasts of the States, with a little bit of Mickey Mouse thrown in for fun, it’s been 18 months in planning, and now we’re finally here!
It’s 7.45pm on Saturday (3.45am UK time) and jet lag is definitely beating us (correction – has already well and truly beaten Gareth who is fast asleep next to me). Our journey started at 1.25am with a National Express coach ride to Gatwick airport, getting us in just before 6am. With hand luggage only (saving us money for those internal domestic flights later on), and holiday itinerary in hand (because everyone has a holiday spreadsheet don’t they?!), we checked in and collapsed for a few hours in Gatwick’s No.1 Lounge (thank you free lounge pass from Amex!)
A row to ourselves on the plane to Oakland, California made a massive difference to our comfort levels – well, my comfort levels at least – allowing me to have several hours of sleep as I was able to lay flat out on the 11 hour journey.
I’m always a fan of using a city’s public transport system to save money while abroad, but even I felt tested by the non air-conditioned and not particularly cost-friendly BART system connecting Oakland with San Francisco. It didn’t help that we arrived in the middle of a searing heat wave (highs of 38 degrees), but to make matters worse, one of the main stations on our route was closed for maintenance, leading to extra walking, bus replacements and going out of our way to get back on track to getting into San Francisco. But, hey, we saved about $15 dollars on grabbing a taxi, so it must have been worth it?!?!? (conclusion – definitely not.)
Our hotel for the first two nights is The San Remo, a quaint 1900s hotel with small rooms and shared bathrooms, though the inconvenience of walking down the corridor to shower is more than made up by the fab original decor and general historical (well, historical for America) feel of the place. The lack of air conditioning, however, makes our room stiflingly hot, (that heat wave rearing its ugly head again), but you do get what you pay for…or rather, what you don’t for in our case, with this hotel being almost half the price of others in the local area.
After a 30 minute nap in the sweat pit (our room as it will now be known), we went out for dinner, sharing a lasagne and flatbread at The Italian Homemade Company. All the praise for this informal eatery is well and truly worth it, and with only a 10 minute wait on a Saturday evening (ok – late afternoon, we were desperate to get back to sleep) and $15 for a delicious meal between us, I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the area.
A walk around the few blocks near our hotel gave us a taster of what to expect over the next couple of days – hilly roads, far too cool for us bars, and beautiful skies. In the meantime, it’s now 8.15pm, and I expect I have an appointment with my jet lagged self at around 3am tomorrow morning, so time to get some sleep in the sweat pit. Wish me luck!