SF Wednesday

Thursday A cool day. In fact a bit nippy.

Halloween is just around the corner as there are certain indications – gruesome clothing in the thrift shops ) more gruesome than usual) and the appearance of pumpkin flavoured chocolate on the chocolate shop shelves. Truely!

I walked yesterday around the Castro area and Haight – Ashbury “ghetto”. The former is the gay precinct and it’s very much similar to Oxford street in Sydney, but not as seedy. The latter suburb is the area of 60’s flower power. I am sure it has seen better days if not decades. The flowers are artificial, the war cry of that era being “make love not war” . One is forced to make war with the daunting, demanding people loitering and asking for money. It seems that on almost every street corner and metro entrance is a beggar often with a dog. it is impossible for me to know how “needy” they are.

Again i was fascinated to see the street trees along Haight were Australian! Eucalyptus trees the dreaded Queensland Box, so beloved of the local councils in adelaide. As well there were bottle brushes and along the median strip – Kangaroo paws! Google informed me that these Australia. Plants were intentionally introduced in the early 1900s to “dry out” the swampy ground around San Francisco.

As only a minority will be keen to hear about the opera, I will simply say it was stunning. An art deco theatre and a wonderful production. I have the opera on CD but this was my first live performance. It’s an early work of Bellini who died of some intestinal complaint in his early 30s.

The city seems reasonably bike friendly although with the aggressive drivers, I am not sure it would be enjoyable.lots of bike lanes along the arterial roads into the city.






San Francisco Tuesday

Its Wednesday, I am having breakfast at a trendy cafe on 18th and Guerrero, called Tartines. A week of this and my weight will normalize! The only healthy choice here is to order a Brioche Bread and Butter Fruit Pudding and leave out the brioche, bread and pudding (double cream custard). Picture appended.

And another thing, navigating across the Golden Gate by foot is becoming more dangerous because added to the cyclists are Segways. As always there are grandmothers on roller blades in the mix.

Chrissy Fields is a grassy park with Palm trees and cycle and walking routes on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. A quiet cool oasis on a hot sunny day. The field was the site of the landing of the first transatlantic air postal service. It was also an early airfield for the US MIlitary.

Sadly, as is the way with early aviation, the field is named after the military pilot lieutenant Crissy who crashed and killed himself on one of the earliest, if not the first flight delivering transatlantic mail.

The Waterfront and Pier 39 area is a very tourist orientated but this is America and so despite my initial reaction to avoid it…. I must experience it. Further more the place is seething with men in uniform as its “Fleet Week” and huge naval warships, carriers and ancillary craft congest the harbour. It’s also the week that elimination races are starting on the harbour for the America’s Cup.

If you delay moving off in your car when traffic lights change to green in the timeframe it takes for one vibrating atom, you will unleash a cacophony of horns! I document this as I have just experienced it first hand and had to go back to hotel to change underwear!

Tuesday I spent in the Museum of Modern Art, which on the first Tuesday of the month is free. Great museum. As well as “conventional” museums, I am always drawn to those that relate to interactive displays, science, technology, modes of travel. Finally I seek out museums of the performing arts, audiovisual, theatre, cinematography. In all of the countries travelled to date, I have visited the museum of cinema and TV.

At the museum of Modern Art there was an area devoted to experimental theater over the decades including a 60 minute Italian documentary from the 1960s in which a panel of 3 catholic priests conducted an audition of 12 young men called “Casting Jesus” . Moreover the audition was held in a beautiful church to add to the overall ambience. It was at times very funny! ( not by intention) they were all dressed in robes, head shawl, sandals and predictably all were bearded. Each individual then had to show an emotion or act a set piece: serenity, anguish, pain, suffering, break and eat bread. They had to recite a set piece, they were asked to wear a crown of thorns, demonstrate agony on the cross and finally “die”! The natural reflex of course is to collapse to the ground, but to mimic this when you are standing, arms outstretched, “nailed” to the cross, it does take considerable talent to crumple a little bit but not enough to give the impression that your arms are being ripped out of their sockets! The young man chosen in the end did not match by choice!

I had an email from my other Cathay Pacific pilot, Leigh, who was flying in Tuesday! So we caught up and had dinner together. Leigh flew in and Jake flew out on the same plane. Both have passed First Officer exams. If you are coming to SF and like seafood, then the Sotto Mare in Green St. is THE place to go!

I have a box seat to the San Francisco Opera tonight – Bellini “The Capulets and the Montagues” – In other words Bellin’s take on Romeo and Juliet!

Should be a little cooler today, the 3 months holiday has panned out as a weather “sandwich”! Hot-cold-hot.Almost makes me want to go back to Ireland! …. Just kidding!

Plan to drive to Napa Valley tomorrow.



The Alan Jones Apology

Some in the media, politicians of obvious side and the public, criticise the PM for not apparently accepting Alan Jones apology. What she did was not take his call. Neither would I in the same situation. It is not indicative of failure to accept an apology. It is a further measure of the man’s arrogance . Why should the PM take his call?

The most genuine response would be a personal hand written letter

“Dear Prime Minister,

I apologies unreservedly to you and your mother for my remarks about the death of your father.

Yours sincerely

Alan Jones”

I am convinced the PM response would be a hand written personal letter:

“Dear Mr Jones?

I accept your apology.

Yours sincerely

Julia Gillard and family”.

End of story

San Francisco

I am back in Australia! Its a typical summer day and what is this I smell on the walk to the Bridge! Gum trees? Yes eucalyptus trees everywhere many quite old – there must be a story to these exotic plants in America.

Super size me! It’s true. The macaroons are twice as big, the biscotti are twice as long. the doughnuts are as big as the rings around Saturn, although the hole is smaller!

There is a world computer Oracle java conference with apparently 50000 attendees from around the world. The hotel is seething with geeks : spectacles, beards, big bums, T shirts and backpacks.

Starbucks Coffee on every block at least one and often two outlets .

I rose early as I do have a slight jet lag, waking around 1 am then 4am, and caught the trolley car up the hill ( as depicted in the tourist promotions)!they are fascinating and operate to this day in the same fashion as originally developed.

As well the “trams” as I would call them as also unique as the city have actively maintained “veteran” trams from the 1920 through to the current day, as well as examples of trams from around the world, running on the S F tram lines. There is a veteran tram car from Melbourne.

Jake and I walked 17 km today across the Bridge. Cycling is an option and Jake has done this before and I did consider it, but on the day walking the bridge is better. Most people walk it so that on a bike, the path is so congested that one would spend most of the time concentrating on slowing down and/or avoiding the walkers. This detracts from actually enjoying the view which to appreciate in the full one needs to dismount anyway. Solution go for a ride but get off and walk bike across. We walked to Sausalito, a rather touristy sea side village on the other side and had a late lunch. I had calamari which to my surprise was not accompanied by chips, bread, a bun or indeed anything else other than two small dishes of commercial sauces – one red the other white.

We caught the ferry back to Pier 1 then caught underground back to our respective abodes. Both very exhausted and a little sun burnt!




To America

All airports chaotic! This is not “chaos theory” this is proven! The UK papers when I was there at time of the Olympics, opined that post Olympics, Heathrow would again descend into constant congestion. It has. The trip across passed over Greenland and the pilot informed us of a unique spectacle. The sky was crystal clear, beautiful sunlight and the grey rocks, glaciers and ice fields of the coast line appeared before us in a spell binding panorama. A photo could not do it justice through the plane window.

Getting through immigration at SF airport took almost 90 minutes. I have had all 10 digits fingerprinted and a mug shot. It happens to everyone, not just me.

Waiting at SF for Jake and Guy, I watched the passing parade of people and huge off road vehicle at the pick up area. One “truck” had unique head rest covers on both seats – cow hide with fur and yellowish horns on each side of the head rest! Yes it was the head rest and not head gear of the occupants! Although from what I have seen briefly I am sure I will see such head gear. Given that Sweden have Viking hats, Dublin leprechaun hats, the America equivalent has a infinite number of possibilities.

Jake is staying with Guy in transit with his job so for the next 2 nights I am staying at the Hilton, then I move to stay with them in their apartment. Jake has a trip back to HKK then days off, so will catch the plane back! His own airborne “metro” and so cheap!

By the way he passed his First Officer exams with flying colours. Hours and hours of study with brain food – Tim Tams.

Last night I ate at an American “diner”. Spanish omelette 3 eggs (super size mw) but I asked for 2 eggs only. I felt like I was in a scene from “Happy Days”!

Not too much jet lag. Not a big time difference. So nothing definite planned but a day trip to Nappa Valley, crossing the bridge and I see from Google that the SF Opera have a current season! Possibly a Wednesday or Thursday night out!

There is always the Castro district!


Last day Dublin

The day dawned, not surprisingly, sunny and clear on this my last day. Perfect weather until mid-afternoon, when it normalized to cloudy with a cold breeze.

Today I visited the national Library – less visited than the library of Trinity College and in some ways just as fascinating. For one it is free and has a reading room that is not quite as impressive as the Long Room of the Trinity Library, but almost. There is also a freje electronic genealogy area, with helpful staff, if your roots are Irish. The building itself is also of architectural interest.

I then spent some hours in the national Museum – Archeology. This is also an architectural beauty. Indeed the building and it’s interior is worthy of a visit just for this. The flooring is intricate Victorian mosaic tiling, a significant proportion being lost under the display cabinets. I would move the museum contents elsewhere and use the building to better purpose.

I also discovered the Dublin equivalent of Rundle Mall – so I was content! Seething with shoppers and all the familiar universal brand shops and food outlets. Buskers abounded, one could have one’s photo taken with a leprechaun. A delightful elderly Irishman, in costume, performed traditional Irish dances and jigs (tap dancing sort of) on a board no
More than one meter square.

I am at the Dublin airport, the queues are daunting but to give credit where credit is due, they move with great speed. The efficiency of the facility to check in on-line or at the kiosks in the terminal is detracted from by the need to then join a long line to “bag drop” which are manned.

I wondered why the planes to America always have a FedEx cargo plane parked adjacent! It’s for the golf clubs and buggies! Every american has twice the luggage of everyone else. Still I have taken my bike to Europe on at least one occasion, so “let him who is without sin, cast the first stone”.

In case you assume i did not enjoy Ireland please be reassured that I had a delightful time. It was so very different compared to Spain but that was part of the appeal. Riding in he rain I’d not enjoyable no matter where you are but that was only on one day.

San Francisco here I come!