San Francisco diary – Day 1: 1 Feb 2014

01:15. (San Francisco time)

We are on board flight UA870 from Sydney to San Francisco. We left on time at 16:20 on Saturday, and it’s now a few hours into the flight, but at our destination it has just passed midnight on the same day. We are scheduled to arrive at 10:30 in the morning.

It’s been a fairly eventless day so far. We got up, finished packing, then took a taxi to the airport around 13:00. Check in was quick, and we’d paid in advance for exit row seats for the extra leg room, which is serving us well right now as we relax into the long haul. Through customs and into the departure lounge we headed first to the Chinese restaurant where we had some steamed buns and dumplings for lunch. Then we browsed the shops a bit, buying an eye mask for M. and a toothbrush for me (that’s the item I accidentally left behind this time).

We saw Quan from my work briefly near the gate, and arranged to meet at the baggage claim at San Francisco airport so we can catch BART together to our hotel. We boarded the plane and settled into our seats. They started showing the first movie almost immediately. M.’s vege meal came early and she said it was good – rice with a spicy lentil dhal. I had a choice of chicken or pasta with “red sauce”. I chose the chicken, which had a teriyaki style sauce with rice and vegetables. It was okay.

After the meal service had cleaned up, a group of three fairly loud Americans came and stood in the area in front of our seats, nursing drinks and obviously settling in for a long flight of consuming alcohol. One older woman was carrying a little bottle of scotch or something, and they were all swapping stories about how drunk they’d got on other flights or something. Thankfully after a while a flight attendant came and told them to go back to their seats.


We’re sitting on the tarmac at San Francisco airport,waiting for a gate to become vacant. We arrived 20 minutes early and should still be at the gate early. The sun is shining brightly and it looks like a beautiful day outside.

The flight passed with only a bit of turbulence to break it up. Breakfast was an egg dish with corn kernels in it, or a plate of fruit.


Chancellor view with fire escape
View from the Chancellor Hotel towards Union Square.

We are resting for a little after returning to our hotel and having a shower after a full afternoon out and about.

The plane eventually made it into the gate and we disembarked, then walked the long corridor to the customs hall. The queues were not long and we passed through fairly quickly, then waited a few minutes to gather our bags. We had them before we spotted Quan arriving a few minutes later. He grabbed his bag quickly too and then we walked out to the arrivals area and to the BART station to catch a train into the centre of the city. There was a train waiting there as we arrived, but we weren’t fast enough buying tickets to get on. Thankfully the next train was only a six minute wait and we piled on and grabbed seats.

We chatted a bit about the conference and our previous visits to San Francisco with Quan as the train took us to Powell St, where we got off. Quan had a reservation at the Hilton, where the conference is, while we are staying in the Chancellor Hotel, a couple of blocks away. We separated and went to our hotels.

We checked into a room on the fifth floor, looking out on to Powell St. We simply dropped our things, washed our faces, and then headed out for a brisk walk to keep ourselves awake. We left the hotel about 12:30 and headed over to Grant Avenue and walked north through Chinatown and North Beach towards Fisherman’s Wharf. It took us about an hour to get there, then we looked around the seafood eateries there and strolled along the Embarcadero towards Pier 39.

The first stop there was the Boudin Bakery for some late lunch. We had the soup in sourdough bowls: M. having the tomato while I had the clam chowder. As usual, the first meal off the plane was delicious.


We are back at the hotel after dinner and going to retire for the night soon.

Earlier, after lunch we browsed the shops at Pier 39, checking out the various touristy goodness, including such marvels as Magnetron (a fridge magnet shop), a couple of chocolate and taffy shops, and the San Francisco 49ers sports gear shop (which also had Giants stuff and lots of other teams too). In the shop signing autographs was the retired 49ers player Bubba Paris, though we didn’t get anything signed.

Then we hopped on a streetcar to take us down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. The open air craft market on Market St was still open with a couple of dozen stalls showing off various wares, so we had a look at that. M. bought a cool floppy hat from a woman with a stall full of hand crafted hats. We looked for the fridge magnet woman who sold me the broccoli magnet three years ago, but she wasn’t there.

After that we crossed the road to go into the Ferry Building, where M. had a coffee from Peet’s. Next we explored the various cool food shops in the building, spotting a funky looking wine bar which we might try for a lunch snack one day.

It was about 17:00 by this time and the sun was setting, so we walked up Market St back to our hotel, where we showered and changed to freshen up. About 18:30 we left to find dinner. I mentioned the Thai place I’d been to three years ago, and M. said she felt like Thai food. So I found the name and address: King of Thai Noodle House on O’Farrell St, just a short walk from our hotel. On the way out of the hotel we asked the receptionist about nearby supermarkets, and she said there was a Walgreens two blocks down on Powell St, also right near the Thai place.

So we walked down, located the Walgreens, then went into the Noodle House. There was a queue of people waiting for a table, but the first group quickly got a table and then the group in front of us was three people but the next table they had was for two, so we got in next. Our table was upstairs, in a room painted entirely purple. M. ordered a vegetarian rice dish, pad gra praw, while I got the deep fried salmon with red curry that I’d enjoyed so much last time I was there. We also got a serve of vegetable egg rolls for a starter. The food was awesomely good, and very satisfying after a long, tiring day.

Deep fried salmon curry
Deep fried salmon curry from King of Thai Noodle House.

On the way back, M. was keen to take a look at the Levi’s store on Market St, so we walked around the block past that. We went in since it was still open, and they were having a huge sale. M. bought a pair of jeans for $30 and I got a shirt for $20. We were in different change rooms at the same time and when I came out with the shirt on I had no idea where M. was. A lady on the staff asked if I needed help and I said, “I don’t know where my wife is… She’s in one of these rooms.” She asked me her name, and I told her, and she started calling out! M. responded, so then we had it sorted.

After Levi’s, we went into another Walgreens next door, different to the one we’d located before dinner. We bought some Grape Nuts and milk for breakfast in our hotel room, and some of the Old Spice deodorants for Andrew, who wanted some of the fragrances not available in Australia. Then we came back to our hotel, took care of some catching up on the Internet, and turned in for the night. We have an alarm set to wake us up at 07:30, if we’re not awake by then.

Leave a Reply