November 7th, 2011
A cameo guest post from our friend Ed, ringleader of the group of three friends who recently visited us for a week in San Francisco. Thanks for making the trip guys, and an extra huge thanks to Liz for hosting us all. We’ll be talking about it (and recovering from it) for months to come. Here’s Ed’s take on the week…
Nearly 4 months in the land of the free and Sarah’s already calling restrooms restrooms, sidewalks sidewalks and England a small island across the pond. The US of A has clearly not passed her by unnoticed. California though, synonymous with liberty, freedom of speech, liberalism and a love for your fellow man is surely the crown of the US leg. And San Francisco the jewel in that crown. Progressive gay rights, entrepreneurial spirit and medicinal marijuana. What could possibly go wrong?
Where to start? Your protagonists arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday 18th at 2pm after 36 miles of rolling coastal cliffs with empty stomachs, sore legs and a palpable excitement for the warm bed awaiting them. There followed three days of small skirmishes on two wheels about the beautiful city. Several ill chosen turns onto streets that resembled sheer rock faces. Lots more enormous sandwiches. And a whole lot of architectural marvel, cultural delight, social variety and much needed rest. What happened next can only be described as a force of nature. One for which their livers will likely be paying the price long after this particular journey is concluded.
8pm on Saturday 22nd October enter stage left: myself, Hormone and Swampy. Wasted. Despite, it seems, having been cut off from alcohol on the plane at quite an early stage. For them it was clearly not so much Saturday as 32 hours into Friday night. In a bar within moments of our arrival, and the first round arrived; 5 beers, 6 coffee martinis, 6 cucumber gimlets, 6 unexplained shooters and a vodka tonic. As I write we are 168 hours in and counting, the alcohol is showing little sign of wearing off.
The theme of the holiday (eds notes: How many times Ed?! It’s a journey, not a holiday) was immediately apparent. Drinking was the name of the game and nobody was sitting out! Most emotionally scarred may well be Bailey, Liz’s dog, who found himself being used as a mop, hung from the window of a moving car, doused in mosquito repellant and used as a canine wakeup device. After 3 days he was sent to a dog holiday camp for fear of his safety. His presence was sorely missed (if not noticed by many for some days).
A moment to thank Liz again for her hospitality beyond the call of duty. Housing James and Sarah was wonderful in the extreme, adding three total reprobates to the couch crashing elite was far beyond the call of duty. Any mutual friends reading, apologies if she is less forthcoming in the future!
There were no early starts to be had this week. And no early nights either. But somehow on Sunday we set off for the Napa (eds: actually it was Sonoma – but what’s a hundred miles after a Corona at 9am?) Valley and wine country, more alcohol, just what we needed. We stopped en route to take in the sights at Land’s End, and for me to almost lose Liz’s beloved Bailey off the edge of a cliff.
In the Napa Valley you can’t see more than about 20 feet without a vineyard finding its way into your field of view, most often occupying all of it. Fantastic. We arrived and set about eating, some things don’t change. Half a cow and a lot of shrimp later we bedded down in what would have been great comfort, were it not for the company. Three days in the beautiful Napa Valley, and what did Hormone appreciate the most? The lock on his door.
A day of touring the vineyards on bikes. My morning routine of complaining a lot about the prospect of getting up does not make for an early departure, but by lunchtime we were at vineyard one playing cornhole.
The day of cycling was seriously hampered by the density of vineyards. As was our sobriety. But miraculously we almost all avoided falling off. Apart from Hormone.
It didn’t take long for the boys to sniff out a brewery, you can take the lout out of London… There we lost Jeet while he caught up with a local motorhead. But we regained Liz, good trade.
A much needed stop off on the way home put us at Nick’s Cove where we summoned the hunger for a few local oysters. Amazing. Another stop at The Flamingo turned out to be a pretty genuine English pub (eds: actually Ed it was The Pelican – you know, big beak, kind of prehistoric looking).
Wednesday was a day in the city, and we foolishly planned for a quiet night so we could head out early on Thursday to go biking in Marin County. James ruled we had time either for bowling or karaoke, but absolutely not both.
James really stamped his authority on the situation and we quickly found ourselves in the Hello Kitty room of a local karaoke bar. It turns out that on top of an evening of drinking, two bottles of vodka between six is the recipe for some very enthusiastic singing.
Marin County is beautiful this time of year, and perfect for cycling. Sadly we never saw it. We made it as far as Sausalito and the cracking Le Garage bistro.
Thierry our host was a legend and explained the ins and outs of illegal immigration. Now a fully signed up citizen he seems to have few complaints about the lifestyle. Miraculously we made it back alive from Sausalito despite having no lights and black clothing. A well planned trip in every aspect. Quick beers to recover in the bar before we head to the Independent for Soulwax.
Soulwax were done and the club shut just after midnight. One of the recurring problems of the holiday has been California’s draconian licensing laws. Fortunately a bar around the corner had the drinks we were looking for. And one random zombie.
Friday saw me dragged from bed kicking and screaming and dumped in the back of the car for the trip South down Big Sur. A chance for James and Sarah to see what lay ahead. I don’t know what the fuss was about. We covered the 200 miles in no time and soon had our feet up at Cafe Nepenthe enjoying the view.
Halloween in America is a big deal, so on our last night in town we headed out to meet the freaks. Apparently we were the only people in town dressed as anything vaguely related, much to my chagrin, though I wasn’t complaining about the multitude of scantily dressed nurses.
Your protagonists arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday 18th at 2pm after 36 miles of rolling coastal cliffs with empty stomachs, sore legs and a palpable excitement for the warm bed awaiting them that evening. On reflection, they probably should have just waved and pushed straight on to Santa Cruz…