USA, Day 4: The Powell Street Blues

22 Jun

When I started rambling about showers this morning, I didn’t realise just how representative it would be of my time in San Francisco.

• I arrived on Wednesday morning; had an ice cold shower, but an otherwise good day.
• Thursday, I awoke, had a slightly more bearable, but equally cold shower, then managed to walk fourteen miles whilst keeping my spirits at a relatively high level.
• Friday, another cold shower, but by this point it had become the norm, and I had my favourite day in the city so far.

So, when the shower miraculously warmed up this morning, I was overjoyed with how my day was sure to go. I chatted with my friend Joel over Facebook, and went through my daily task of updating my Instagram profile and blogging about the previous day. But throughout this period, I was becoming more and more aware about how I had not made any plans of what to do.

It occurred to me that I had yet to ride on the cable-cars or experience a true taste of San Francfrosn food, and so I resolved to do both. Getting the bus to the MacArthur BART station, I headed into the city, excited for what awaited me.

Arriving on Powell Street, I admit I was unaware that it only branched off on one side of the main road, and subsequently walked right past it.
Consulting my phone, I was informed that the road I was looking for was a few blocks down, and set off towards my goal. As I wondered why the Powell Street station was so far from Powell Street, I rightly concluded that I must have read the map wrong.

Turning on my GPS, I backtracked, unaware that my phone’s signal was slightly off, and thus was sending me on the wrong course. As this was going on, I noticed that my phones battery was also starting to fail, and so I was forced to turn off the highly unhelpful GPS, and look to the nearby streetcars for assistance.

The streetcars, whilst visually unimpressive, managed to raise my mood somewhat, and reinvigorated my desire to ride the cable car.

Finding Powell Street, I now found problems in the form of an irritatingly lengthy queue. Fortunately, I was informed by a local that if I went up to one of the later stops, I would avoid such a long queue; all he asked for was a dollar, which I gladly gave him.

But now my problems began anew. There were a small group of tourists at this stop, and we were all assured by locals, who were also waiting, that this was the best place to get on.

On any other day, they may have been right, but slowly, the cars stopped coming over the hill. What happened? I don’t know. All I do know is my fellow tourists got fed up, and went searching for another stop, only to be replaced by a new batch. In this time, a couple of cars had passed our stop. One full, and one empty. After a long wait, I too began to tire of waiting, and started to resign myself to the fact that my plans for the day weren’t going to go ahead.

As I prepared to leave, I did a quick scan around myself. If there were a queue at this stop, I would have been at its head, followed by a small family and a foursome of Frenchmen. Then, there would be the two locals, who were desperate to prove themselves right. I’m not sure how long I had been, but as I stepped away from the edge of the sidewalk, the long inactive street car moved into action, and slowly pulled up at our stop, where the conductor announced only six people could step aboard, and so the two locals and the French tourists dashed in front of me and the family and lept aboard.

At this stage, I asked myself ‘Just how special can this be anyway? It’s just a bus ride up a hill. I live in Wales, that’s like an everyday occurrence’. I started off towards Fisherman’s Wharf, and only then did I realise why the cable cars were situated on Powell Street; I had walked it the previous day, and in the sun, it becomes a chore. Nothing more.

After wandering round in search of a public toilet, I once again found myself unsure of where to eat. Walking around a couple of blocks, I finally decided to give up hope, and head to a diner called Johnny Rocket’s that I had seen the previous day.

Sitting alone, I checked my texts, and realised that I had been invited to a BBQ by Max’s friend. At this stage, I would never make it, so I resigned myself to my burger and sweet potato fries, and ate in silence.

After enjoying my burger and catching a girl who was leaving smiling at me, I ordered myself to stop sulking, and just get on with my day.

The glowing evening sun made for a pleasant, if slightly cold walk home, and I stopped to listen to a trio of musicians in the street, who were more than deserving of my money.

At home, I remembered how Max had described himself as ‘not much of a chef’, looked in the fridge, and decided to find food elsewhere. Scanning Google maps, I found an option three blocks down.

“Fuck it” I said, “I’ll get a Maccies. And next time I’ll plan my day better”.

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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Travelling


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