Saturday, October 16, 2010

San Francisco: I Did It My Way

I recently took a trip out to the West Coast to the beautiful city of San Francisco. It was an excellent trip. Is that enough of an intro? I think so.

The story actually begins about a month-and-a-half ago, when I was driving home. A local radio station had been giving away trips to concerts in big cities all summer. One of the trips was to San Francisco to see The Script. On this late August afternoon, the station had actually given away that trip already. But when the DJ came on the radio, I knew right away something was about to happen. My phone was ready.
DJ: "I told you earlier about (name of winner) who won the trip to San Francisco to see The Script, BUT"
Me: [I call the station]
DJ: "...she can't go because of work. SO"
Me: [Phone is ringing]
DJ: "I'm opening it up to everyone. Be caller 9 right now and the trip is yours."

Now on the phone:
DJ: "Hello!"
Me: "Hey, how's it goin?"
DJ: "I'm good, how you doin?"
Me: "Well I'm pretty awesome but hoping to be a lot more awesome right about now..."
DJ: "Well I think I can make that happen, cause you are caller 9 you are going to SAN FRANCISCO."
Me: [Awesome freak out]

And thus the trip was won. I decided to take my little sister. We had been to San Fran once before, in 1999. During that trip, our parents were on some wine tour or other excursion and foolishly left us in the care of our cousin Brandon, who lived in an apartment above a bar somewhere in the city. We woke up on a Saturday morning when Brandon, the ingenious inventor of egg cobbler, had to go into work. Me, my brother, and my sister were left in the apartment. My brother and sister decided to take to the streets in search of breakfast while I stayed behind and held down the fort. While it all worked out, my parents were less than thrilled when they found out. Needless to say, my sister and I were excited to once again wander the streets of San Francisco in search of breakfast without parental supervision.

Our trip began Wednesday morning with a 5:30 AM flight out of Richmond, with a quick stop in Charlotte and then the long one to San Fran. My sister slept, and I knocked out a business stats midterm. But what struck me most about the flight was just how uneventful it was. Even though I saw at least 3 babies board the flight, I did not hear any of them for the entire 5 hour flight. The person in front of me kept their seat upright for the entire flight. It was totally unremarkable, and in that way, was somewhat remarkable.

We landed in San Fran at 10 AM west coast time and made our way to the hotel. I was figuring the room would not be ready for several hours. Nope. It was ready to go. In one of the only minor hiccups of the the trip, I was surprised to find that the room had not yet been paid for. But I called my booking agent and that was taken care of quickly and easily. We dropped our bags, planned our afternoon, and took to the streets!

After an delicious and MASSIVE lunch at a Thai restaurant, we made our way up to Fisherman's Wharf, where we found the worlds worst street performer. I kid you not. This guy was technically a comedian/magician, but was terrible at both. His jokes were not funny, inappropriate, and awkward, and he probably did about 2 total minutes of juggling in a 30 minute show and then his grand finale was escaping from a straight-jacket. We also discovered the San Fran sea lions. There is a dock where dozens and dozens of sea lions just pile onto each other and sunbathe. Literally piles of them. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday night we went to the concert. It was a great show. Other than the band of course, highlights included a 45 year old woman sitting down in the middle of the dance floor to put on lipstick, the entire Asian family in front of my sister, all with ear-plugs, standing completely still throughout the entire show, and the fact that the music in between the opening act and The Script included Empire State of Mind.

On Thursday we wandered Union Square, rode a cable car, and went to the Exploratorium. All awesome. The day and trip ended in grand fashion, when we met up with my friend Richard and his friend Lan, for some sushi and some drinks. Sadly, my friend David was not able to make it out. David, here is what you missed:

We found a bar in Japantown that was pretty much empty until we came in. There was a closed off karaoke room attached to the bar. We asked about it and were told it was $75/hour to be in there. While initially shocked, our surprise was soon answered by the constant presence of well-dressed women walking in and out of the room. But the night was made when a Japanese man took the stage and belted out a truly inspired and heavily-accented version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way." It was an unforgettable moment.

From there we made our way to the airport, where we walked right up to security (literally NO security line) made it to the gate, and enjoyed a pleasant red-eye back to Dulles and then down to Richmond. Again, zero screaming babies. I watched a movie and then got some sleep. It was excellent.

They say you get what you pay for. I was a little worried that a free trip would give me a lot of troubles. But it was some of the smoothest traveling I have ever done. The hotel was pretty nice. Every meal we had was HUGE. The weather was perfect. All in all, it was a great trip. I can't wait to go back.

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