San Francisco treated us to some pretty stunning weather on our arrival. We rode over the Golden Gate Bridge into the city on a beautiful sunny day, we could see the full stretch of the city and the bay area. We had organised to stay with a Warm Showers host in San Fran so that we could have a few days rest from the bikes and time to check the place out. Heidi and Martin were a wonderful couple, living in a great area and we felt very lucky to be able to stay with them while we did the touristy city things.
In the few days that we were there Jules and I fell in love with San Fran. There was so much to see and do.. we explored the funky old neighbourhoods, found the American version of the kebab (the burrito), discovered exactly how many hills San Fran has, Jules got read poetry to at the local lesbian bar (I meanwhile found a hidden talent for pool and swept the table, right up until the time that Jules poetry reading ended and she came to watch me, whereby I found I could not hit any of the balls), we ate donuts and sat on the beach in sun, watched the beautiful men and their beautiful fluffy dogs (with matching jackets), we wondered Haight-Ashbury, and the Castro, and Mission, picnicked on dim sum in Golden Gate Park, discovered the “San Fran shot” - a herbal shot of alcohol that tasted like it should be sold in a health food shop, browsed the wicked Green Apple bookshop (from which Jules had to forcibly remove me), ate a lot of great and cheap food and drank lots of awesome coffee. We also managed to catch up with some fellow cyclists who we had met further up north, and who made it to the city around the same time as us.
On our first night in San Fran we made dinner for Heidi and Martin, though I am not sure if this was the best idea as I am clearly out of practice with cooking in a nice kitchen with a full range of tools. The last few months I have had to get used to cooking with two small saucepans and with a limited range of food products. Recently I have gotten very experimental in my cooking as I have worked through most of my tried and tested recipes at least once. One of my most questionable of meals I made a few days before San Fran. I had bought a gigantic bunch of fresh organic basil so I decided to make pesto. In lieu of a blender, Parmesan and pine-nuts I simply smushed up a whole lot of basil, added sunflower seeds, cream cheese, some oil and some seasoning... and Voila – a green and white paste not dissimilar to that weird herbal toothpaste that mum used to make me use as a child.
Anyway, back to cooking in San Fran – while dinner was not my best effort I decided to try again another night and make some desert. However, this was not helped by the fact that we shopped for most of the ingredients at the market in Chinatown (Chinatown is the best place to shop in San Fran!), which meant that my berry and apple pecan crumble could either be accompanied by yam, red bean or (my personal favourite) 'corn and cheese' ice-cream. Luckily hidden behind the assortment of root vegetable sorbets I found some coconut ice-cream, which actually went quite well and the desert was saved!
Coincidentally, Heidi and Martin were also hosting another two cyclists, a Spanish couple, Javier and Sylvia, who we had cycled with further up the coast, and who were also cycling the Alaska to South America route. While in San Fran, we had a great time sharing stories and plans with them, and attempting to practice our very dodgy Spanish. A couple of the nights that we were there we had dinner with the four of us cyclists, Heidi, Martin, plus Martin's amazingly sprightly 92 year old mother, Alice. A fun, if eclectic, family dinner. We enjoyed Heidi's awesome culinary skills ,the great conversations, stories of San Fran's history and explanations of the complicated nature of American politics. Jules was also very happy to have a rest from my “experimental dinners”!
The first few days in San Fran we had had such a good time, and I had decided I wanted to live there. This was until the beautiful sunny, barmy days ended and the cold and rain moved in.. ahh this is the San Fran that I was expecting! The cold weather made it easier to leave, although we were both still a little sad to say goodbye to the city's vibrancy... back to camp life and meals of questionable taste!