Five years ago I was 22 years old and living in a Backpackers hostel in Melbourne, Australia. I was in the midst of an unhealthy affair with a man ten years my senior. And there was a boy. A good, sweet, slightly mad, boy who held my hand in the street, played scrabble with me in cafes and sang Moldy Peaches songs with me into the early hours of the morning. I nearly kissed him on my 23rd birthday. It was a burning, intense friendship which I think we both wanted to be more but were too damaged and mixed up to vocalise. When the time came for him to leave, I cried and we sat holding each other for hours.
I haven’t seen him since. He wrote a song about me. This is my rebuttal. He saw into my heart but never saw that a piece belonged to him.
I was quite bright as a child and subsequently won a scholarship to a private school, at the time my parents were financially comfortable but we were nowhere in the league of most of the girls I joined at C………. High School for Girls. I did not own a pony, I did not carry my books in a Chanel bag and we did not summer abroad and I was therefore somewhat of the odd one out.
One of the few friends I made there was a girl called Abbie and the year we were 12 she summered in Barcelona, two months of sun, sea and culture. I didn’t know much about Barcelona at the time but upon receiving a postcard featuring Gaudi’s Casa Batlló I fell in love.
Gaudi’s work went a long way to shaping my current taste, my interest in him pointed me towards Modernism, Dali, Luis Buñuel, Dadaism, Avent Garde film making and surrealism. He also spawned a lifelong interest in architecture and taught me to look up. All this having been said time for a confession. I have never been to Barcelona. I suppose I am afraid that during my teen years of wishing myself away from a school I loathed with people I detested and who felt the same about me I built it into place which defies reality. Barcelona to me is a mythical place where I will dream I will achieve a sense of belonging. My beloved Woody Allen did not help, his love letter to the city Vicky, Christina, Barcelona has only made the place more magical to me. Sometimes I feel a bit like Christina, searching… certain only, of what I don’t want.
This summer I am going. You know how the omnipresent we say don’t meet your heroes because they will only let you down? Well this city is sort of my hero, please don’t let me down Barcelona.
At the end of November Kate Erring, The Commander and I are taking a little trip to Paris. One great thing about living in the UK is the travel possibilities right on your doorstep. I am quite in love with America, I love to visit and one day I hope to live there but it does have it’s limitations travel-wise unless you have a lot of money. By contrast in living Europe you can explore a foreign country on a long weekend on a relatively tight budget, which sort of makes up for the rainy days and pathetic summers.
Despite the fact that Paris is easy to get to I have only been once before as a Christmas trip with my Mum when I was about 15 so I am very excited about going again. I currently spend a good portion of my day dreaming about gallivanting about the city streets taking photo’s like a mad woman, visiting museums, quaffing champagne and nibbling at pastries. I was planning to post an itinerary but then realised that providing random strangers the details of my movements was probably not a wise thing to do so I will give that information post trip but let me tell you now we have done a very good job in picking the hotel, it looks absolutely fabulous. I am almost as excited about seeing the hotel in person as I am about the whole trip and I have no doubt in my mind that I will be singing it’s praises and giving it a high recommendation.
The trip is for 3 days and I have some must to activities of my own but what are yours?
After a spot of turbulence, stomach churning for me and terror inducing for Highwater we arrived into Newark Liberty International Airport and hopped straight onto a shuttle bus and into NYC. Here is a little tip for purveyors of accommodation worldwide, at the risk of making your patrons look very foolish please provide correct address details on your website. After that little mishap we arrived at candy Hostel, checked in and took to the city. We got the subway to Time Square and I introduced Highwater to the wonder that is Walgreens. We had dinner and long island ice teas which managed to get us both a bit drunk, what can I say, air travel makes us cheap dates, and then off we went to see Chicago. It was incredibly good but I think that both of us were a little too tired to enjoy it properly.
Friday was tourist day, we got up early and had a stroll around Central Park . I don’t care what people say about new Yorkers I found them to be some of the most courteous helpful people I have ever encountered. Highwater and I were keen to see the Alice in Wonderland Sculpture and clearly looked a bit lost and confused and a lovely lady with a dog gave us directions, in fact pretty much any time we had to ask someone for assistance in New York they went above and beyond to help us out.
After Central Park we got one of my favourite tourist buses to show of the highlights. Normally I am a big fan of discovering a city organically, wandering around the streets and stumbling upon iconic sights but there is also a lot to be said for lazy tourism – you are guaranteed to see all the key sights, you get the added bonus of a guides insight into the city and if you are short on time I think that despite the cringe factor of being such an obvious tourist the sightseeing buses are actually a really good option.
Admittedly the bus only took us by the main attractions and not actually to them but given we only really had 24 hours in NYC I think we did quite well for sightseeing. After the tourist bus we had lunch at tgi Fridays and did a bit more of a wander around Time Square including going into the Hershey’s store and the M& M’s store where they seem to have spent a lot of time working out how the create M&M merchandised everything – from cuddly monkeys who declare they love chocolate to M&M flavour chap stick – you’ve got to “love” capitalism.
And then it was time to leave so we collected our bags and headed to the Port Authority Bus terminal or as we lovingly know it, Hell. Next stop New Joysey (This is Highwater and my best guess at the accent).
So it has finally arrived, tomorrow Highwater and I are off to NYC.
The agenda includes a Broadway musical, a twilight trip up the Empire State Building, coffee and a morning stroll in Central Park, the Staten Island ferry ( Highwater would like her picture taken a la Carrie in the episode of Sex in the City where she is a guest judge in the sexy fireman competition) and various other brilliant things. We are spending the Saturday at Bamboozle Festival watching some brilliant bands and schmoozing with musician types and then renting a car and going to play some slots and dine at Hooters and IHOP in Atlantic City. Highwater claims that IHOP is mentioned in every movie ever made in the history of movies ever and whilst I doubt this somewhat I am still excited to have scrambled eggs and pancakes on a plate together with some maple syrup.
I may not be packed yet but at least I have my red heart shaped sunglasses and 4 specially crafted road trip Cd’s for the journey to AC, we shall be listening to “From Helen Highwater” “Atlantic City Holly Day” “Number the Third” and “9.05 Minutes of Freebird” .
I am sure that I will blog extensively on our return. Wish us fun.
I have found a new way to while away the hours, creating fantasy outfits on Polyvore, I can’t afford 75% of the things I have put into my New York Capsule Wardrobe but I think it’s pretty rad and I am going to be on a mission to find similar for affordable prices. I have no idea if they are weather appropriate, May in New York/New Jersey anyone?
Find me on Polyvore
(More San Fran Diary stuff)
Last night on my way to bed my knee twisted and made the most sickening tearing sound. I didn’t think of it much again as once in bed it didn’t hurt and I fell asleep quite quickly. This morning however I realised that I have done some damage as it is horribly painful walking. I decided that today would be the ideal day to embrace tourism and decided to get an open top bus ticket. I imagine one tour to be much like the next so I walked/hobbled to Union Square and got the first one to come along. My bus was Open Top Sightseeing San Francisco and boasted brand new buses, a fully narrated tour and a Golden Gate crossing.
Due to the sight seeing nature if today this is going to be a bit of a fact heavy post, sorry about that!
The first main step was the Asian Art Museum, City Hall & Civic Centre. In 1978 it was here at City hall that Dan White climbed through a window to avoid security and took the lives of Harvey Milk and Major George Moscone.
to be continued…..
(More from San Fran)
It is Labour Day today a holiday to honour something – I don’t actually know what but perhaps hard work and what better to way to celebrate than have a day off. There is a lot of stuff closed and the MUNI is running on limited Sunday service so i have decide to embrace my inner San Franciscan and head for Golden Gate Park.
I am currently sat in the Japanese Tea Garden contemplating Pagoda, Koi Carp and sculpted trees, maybe I should write a haiku? –
In the pond
I walked around the park for a few hours after I left the Tea Garden, sat for a bit, read for a bit and then walked some more. it was hot but not baking so I had a bit of a shock to discover I’m sporting a highly unattractive lobster look on my upper arms and scalp. Ouch!
I am quite please with how I have gotten to grips with the MUNI today. I took 2 buses and a streetcar (named 7 not desire) with ease.
I am going to have a busy day tomorrow I think, I’ve not done some of the most important things on my list yet like go to The Pirate Supply Store or City lights or the Castro Theatre.
Oh My God… Kurk from Gilmore Girls is going adverts these days, oh how the mighty have fallen, I just saw him in one for gbh. Not really travel diary stuff but I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written it down.
(More San Fran diary extracts)
A big day of walking today, I went from the hotel a few blocks down to Mission and then walked for about 2 hours. First stop was the the Ferry Building for views of the (closed for Labour Day) bay bridge and what is billed as a farmers market but is more a collection of deli type shops. Not that useful for tourists with no self catering facilities but a fantastic resource no doubt for locals and picnickers.
From the Ferry building I headed north up the Embarcadero to pier 39, the embarkation point for boats to Alcatraz and around the bay and Fisherman’s Wharf. I was going to head up yo Ghiardelli square but became distracted by my supposed closeness to Lombard Street, the world’s crookedest street. Off i went only to discover quite quickly that my route lay up a near vertical climb. I made a valiant effort and those acquainted with my knees would be proud but the steepest hills in San Francisco were too much for me. Just when i was about to expire of heat and pain I came across the Historic Street Car and decided to take a ride.
The Powell-Hyde line is apparently the cities steepest and at 21 degrees with the bay behind you it’s a little like a roller coaster. Ascending the car is attached to a cable but descending it is detached and free wheels down. It goes surprisingly fast. I was sat in the relative comfort of the carriage but I can imagine it’s a bit of a white knuckle ride for those hanging on the outside.
I nipped back to the hotel for a bit at lunch and then decided to have a wander round Chinatown in the afternoon. Aside from Tourist hot spot Pier 39, Chinatown is the busiest bit of San Fran I’ve been to thus far. The brightly coloured buildings and opulent decor instantly set it apart from the other neighbourhoods. You can enter through a dragon flanked archway inscribed with the words “Xia tian wei gong’ which i am told translates as ‘The reason to exist is to serve the public good’. the street Chinatown gate opens on to has a somewhat salacious past, once home to numerous opium dens, brothels and gambling huts it’s existence served a somewhat interesting public good!
These days the buildings may not house such worldly pursuits but they are still not the most noble institutions, plastic Buddhas have taken the place of drugs and sex. Exploitation follows exploitation, where it was once exploitation of the individual it is now of culture.
From Chinatown gate it is only a block and a half to Burritt alley where Miles Archer met his fate. Those of you not versed in the world of Noir may be wondering who but others will know of the death of Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade at the hands of fatalist of Femmes, Bridig O’Shaughnessey. Today a plaque marks this tragic spot.
(Extracts from my San Fran diary)
Day One and I wake up at 7.30 am, despite having done a lot of travelling I have never suffered from jet lag, I think it’s a bit of a myth. My calf muscle is still protesting after last nights cramp session but other than that I’m feeling pretty good. It’s 10 AM now and I am breakfasted, showered and coffeed up to Gilmore standards (thanks to the coffee maker in my room).
Union Square was only a couple of blocks from my hotel so i strolled down and started my photo taking attack on San Fran. from Union Square I walked a couple of blocks down Powell until I came to the San Francisco visitors centre where I intended to exchange my e-ticket for my CityPass (entrance to the main attractions and MUNI transport for a week). Unfortunately it turns out my e-ticket was in fact only a receipt and they wouldn’t take it. I am anally organised and I swear i never had an e-ticket, this was it. I was there for a while and I won’t bore you with the details but the final answer was No, fuck off, but said politely and that American way. I went to SFMOMA, one of the afore mentioned attractions and got the same response until the man who will evermore be known as ‘awesome SFMOMA guy’ took pity on me and exchanged it.
SFMOMA was pretty cool, I don’t like my art to come with too much explanation, I either get it and appreciate it or I don’t and I find the pretentiousness of the blurb can ruin a piece for me. SFMOMA in that respect was pretty ideal for me, it had pieces by some of my favourite artists and left you to make up your own mind.
Today showed me something really important about this city though. it was not made be be itinerised. I had no intention of going anywhere south of Market today but this city is so fantastically walkable that a brief wander took me there.
I think when I packed and planned for this trip I forgot that despite all the talk of fog SF is still in California. What kind of weirdo goes to California and doesn’t take sunscreen and packs mostly sweaters and cardigans? That would be this kind of weirdo. Luckily the CW were advertising a new vampire show by giving out VPF 1000 sunscreen as “sun damage is the #1 killer of the undead” Vampire Diaries on the CW – Check it out folks.