“I’m glad we stayed in that hotel for the past 2 nights, it was nice to see another part of San Francisco”, said Gareth shortly after we moved into our new hotel room this morning, “but it’s nice to have a bit of luxury for a change”. It’s amazing how having your own bathroom and not having to prop open your bedroom door to get a bit of cool air in suddenly seems like luxury!! I had a load of Virgin airmiles to use that I had collected about 4 years ago and had done nothing with, so chose the San Francisco Marriot Marquis to redeem a free night on our last night of our flying tour around the city.
Compared to our 20 room quaint San Remo Hotel in North Beach, the vast Marriot Marquis just off Union Square was a bit of a shock to the system, but we quickly got used to both the working air conditioning and the well equipped gym.
Weights session over (3 weeks of eating in USA = gym time a necessity!) we headed out to lunch in the hippy neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury (at the super tasty Street Taco), before attempting to navigate the relatively new city bike system of San Fran. It’s become a bit of a tradition to utilise city bikes wherever we go in the world and have so far biked around Paris, Dubai, Miami, Bordeaux, Ljubljana, New York and Brisbane. For anyone who has utilised this system, you’ll know it’s not the easiest. It usually involves whacking a massive hold on your credit card as a deposit, trying to interpret the various user manuals, and cycling around on these ridiculously heavy non-user friendly bikes, panicking about where you’ll drop yours off next, as you are charged a fee whenever you go past the 30 minute usage mark. But, as mentioned before, it’s now become tradition, and we thought we’d have a nice cycle around the Golden Gate Park, using the bikes, swapping them every 30 minutes at the changeover stops all around the park, just like we had done in New York at Christmas. Apart from the fact that, because the system is so new, there aren’t any stops near the park. So our relaxed cycle ride became a frantic time trial of getting into the park, cycling around for 3 minutes, then cycling back along the park’s ‘pan handle’ to drop off our bikes from where we picked them up. I’d say we’ll never city bike again, but I’m only fooling myself, and I’m obviously devastated New Orleans’s bike scheme won’t be up and running until after we’ve left!
The afternoon was spent admiring the Golden Gate Bridge (or ‘that big red bridge in my computer game’ as my training partner Mica calls it), before the obligatory nap in the hotel before dinner.
And what a dinner it was. I’d heard amazing things about the restaurant NoPa, and it deserves every plaudit it has going. Awesome service, outstanding food, (expensive prices!), made it a last evening in SF not to forget.
And now, before I head to bed (almost 11pm over here, check me out with the late night), if you’re reading this it means you very likely, a) use the internet and b) have some spare time on your hands. So, to mark the start of the organ donation week back in the UK, please spend a couple of minutes either signing up to the organ donor register list (if you haven’t already), or more importantly telling your friends and families about your wish to be an organ donor when you die. Talking about death isn’t the most pleasant of subjects, but potentially saving a life is the most selfless and amazing thing you could ever do. I wouldn’t be out here having the time of my life without an organ donor’s liver, so please make time today to have the ‘donation conversation’.
Tomorrow – a morning at the Ferry Building before picking up our hire car and heading out to Yosemite where bears, bushfires and my boss (??!?!) await!