using my inside voice

Day 12 - University Flashbacks, Seals, Sights and Sore Feet

North American Travel | June 12, 2009

Lombard Street - the windiest street in the world (apparently)

I had been previously informed that San Francisco was an amazing city to visit, after my brother's trip he declared that it was a city that he could spend two weeks in without any bother. So, I had high hopes, which can be a dangerous thing. Luckily, San Fran has been nothing less than awesome so far.

Our first day was spent wandering through the Mission, Castro and Haight Ashbury areas. We of course had our obligatory coffee stop at Haus Coffee on 24th street, a new venue that has been open only a month that serves entirely respectable coffee. Then onto Castro Street which is the centre of the gay area and has an awesome vibe, lots of colours, funky shops and good places to eat. Feeling mighty hungry after already walking for around 2 hours, we stopped for a slice, and it was some of the best pizza I've had to date.

The Haighty Ashbury area is renowned for being the "hippy" area of San Francisco, and is lined with smoking paraphernalia shops, cafes, second-hand stores, and the like. Personally I felt the street was a little contrived, with people walking up and down to pose and be seen. But, I did stop for ice cream at Ben & Jerry's and it was some of the best chocolate ice cream I've ever had (and for $4.50 for one scoop it really ought to be!)

We spent from about 11am - 7pm walking around the city, and needless to say, by the end of the day I was practically delirious with exhaustion.

The next day we hired bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were loads of other tourists doing this, and it was kinda expensive ($65 altogether for both of us) but I couldn't help having a ridiculously fun day. I was pretty much grinning the entire time we were riding across the bridge. We ended up in Sausalito, across the bay, and had a picnic lunch there. We rode on for a little more, but ended up deciding to catch the ferry back to San Fran from Sausalito. It was another exhausting day, finishing up at about 6pm back at the hostel.

Yesterday, as the title of this blog post suggests, we went and saw the seals at Pier 39. We were going to visit Alcatraz, but there was such a horrendously long line we decided to give it a miss. Luke figures we can read the Wikipedia page and pretty much get the gist, and I tend to agree, so we're not going to do the whole Alcatraz trip this time around. After the seals, we wandered up Lombard Street, purported to be the windiest street in the world. There were loads of people taking photos and walking up and down the street, the residents of the street must actually get a little sick of all the attention and traffic. It was kinda cool, but on our way back to the hostel we wandered through some streets that I thought were prettier, and were of course much quieter. Rather than roads, some blocks in San Francisco have steps and gardens, so only pedestrians can get through. They are really a sight to be seen, so beautiful, cool and picturesque.

That night at the hostel they were holding a "Beer Olympics". Now, as most of you know, I don't drink beer, and Luke said he wasn't too keen to participate, but we got caught up talking to some other travelers in the common room, and ended up being around when the games started. So, what could we do but go with the flow and partake in the festivities.

There were two main games over the evening - beer pong and flip cup. The first involves a traingle formation of 6 beer cups at either end of the table (similar to a ten pin bowling formation). Teams of two stand at either end and try to get a ping pong ball into the opposition's cups. Each cup has a small amount of beer in it, so when the ball lands inside they have to drink. The winning team is the first to make their opposition drink all their cups of beer. It's actually quite nail-biting stuff, and some English guys we'd befriended ended up winning the tournament (no surprises there really, the English sure know how to drink).

Flip cup involves two teams of around 5-10 players on either side of a table. Each team member pours a small amount of beer (or for me, vodka and coke) into a plastic cup. Starting at one end, they drink their beer, then put their cup the right way up on the edge of the table. They then flip the cup from underneath and try to get it to land upside down on the table. Once they have succeeded in this task, the next person can do the same. Obviously, the winning team is the one to have all it's members finish this performance first. The one game of this I played, our team won (which is awesome since I'm incredibly competitive) and I flipped my cup on the first attempt - who knew I could be so coordinated!

At about 2.30am I hit the hay, exhausted, and feeling like a 20-year-old again. Apart from the fact that all these drinking games are reminiscent of university days, most of the people we're hanging out with are at least 3-4 years younger than us. And, the English guys we became friends with are all 19, and just finished school... makes me feel old!

We're heading to Yosemite tonight on the Green Tortoise bus, a proper sleeper bus that has mattresses which actually lay out properly so you can sleep. The English guys are also coming along, as well as a South African girl we've met. It should be a fun time. I'm pretty excited to go, as we wouldn't have been able to see any national parks otherwise. We're back in San Francisco on Monday for one more night before we head to LA.

More soon...


1. Alison Stracey on November 24, 2009

Hey Bay,

Sounds like you are having a great time! Enjoying reading your blog, Joy gave me the link. Jason and I stayed in the same hostel in San Fran and loved the city. We skipped Alcatraz too and even played the same beer olympics in the hostel haha. Keep Safe.


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About Bay Oliver

Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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How to be creative...

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And thatʼs exactly whatʼs been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

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Categories of Published Work

Le Gite B & B on the Plateau in Montreal

Published: September 18, 2008

Le Gite Bed and Breakfast is a quaint, comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable place to stay in the heart of the plateau in Montreal.

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle Barely Rates Four Stars

Published: November 5, 2008

The Edgewater Hotel, Seattle's only waterfront hotel, may not be quite the standard 4-star experience.