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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Middlerun Does America, Day 2

After emerging from my epic sleep on Saturday morning, just in time for breakfast, I left the hostel and wandered down to Market Street. I went down to the Powell St. BART station, got a ticket and hopped on a train to the Embarcadero, a long stretch of waterfront with plenty of shops and stuff.

After wandering around the market stalls that were set up near the station I grabbed a coffee and sat down to relax and take a few photos of the partially visible Bay Bridge. I wandered down the street past the piers, not really looking for anything in particular. Eventually I got to the east end of Lombard St., famously crooked but only in one small section. I started walking down Lombard St. in search of the crooked bit of road, which I eventually found after walking down and then up a number of exhausting hills.

It was surrounded by tourists and covered in cars driving down it. I climbed the steps along its side, taking a few photos along the way. At the top there were dozens of cars lining up to drive down it like it was some kind of amusement park ride. I took a couple more photos and then walked down another street, one with cable car tracks. When I got to the bottom I found myself at a cable car stop so I figured I might as well ride it back to Market St.

The line was huge. I didn't realise how long the line was until I was already lining up, and it ended up taking nearly an hour. Luckily a nice woman and her Mexican husband started talking to me, which helped pass the time and they gave me plenty of tips for things to see around the city. And I didn't even have to pay for the cable car because while I was lining up a guy came past offering a free 1-day pass which he didn't need anymore. Finally I got on, and rode back into town.

One funny thing I noticed as I walked the streets was that Americans have a tendancy to walk on the right-hand side of the footpath, just like they drive on the right-hand side of the road. Often I'd find myself instinctively walking on the left, and someone would come towards me wanting to walk where I was walking and one of us would have to move aside. It's surprisingly difficult to break that habit.

That night after dinner I went on a pub crawl with a bunch of other hostel people. There were a couple of other Australians and I spent a while chatting with a cool Polish guy, and trying some local beers. The first bar near the hostel had $3 beers which is pretty damn cheap by Australian standards, even if you factor in a tip. The bartender recommended one called Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which tastes strikingly similar to James Squire Golden Ale. The Polish guy, Sebastian, was appalled when I described to him the pathetic state of the Australian drinking landscape, where $7 schooners are common, a six pack is often $17 and you get kicked out of bars for looking at the bouncer the wrong way.

From there we went to another bar in a slightly grungier part of town, hung out there for a while, and then went down Mission Street, gawked at some of the cars parked there, and went to a nightclub. I'd write more, but the night gets a little fuzzy from this point.

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