Saturday, 21 June 2014

BART ( or a journey to strange southern lands)

When I said BART, I didn't mean Simpson, like Bart Simpson.  Hmm. Homer Simpson. Jessica Simpson. Hmm.
Has it ever occurred to anyone that these two may be related?  No equivalent pictures exist for Jessica, but does anyone actually need pictorial evidence ?

Anyhoo, this post is not about Bart or Homer or Jessica, but BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, as it is also known.
The ride is not quite as cheap as in Vancouver (Vancouverites, STOP whining about supposedly high transit costs !!): The ride from SFO to Lafayette, for example (just follow the yellow line), rings in at US$ 10.05.   But on the other hand, you get to ride the train for a whole hour.

I leave Vancouver airport at 9 am.
My ride.   NOTE: It is NOT raining in Vancouver ;-)
Close to SeaTac
I can't say I remember anything of the 35 minute flight in a Bombardier propeller plane to Seattle except the take-off and the descent just before the landing. I slept the whole way.  There is absolutely no customs/passport control on the US side which is very odd. All taken care of on the Canadian side.AND: I'm in the continental US for the first time in ~15 years.  I had stopped driving across the border because for European citizens it had become mandatory to provide their finger prints upon entering the US.  I thought that was rather retarded, so I stopped going until 2013, when I took Grandma to Hawaii and grudgingly subjected myself to the finger printing.  I also noted enviously that Grandma was not required to be finger-printed.  When the customs officer pointed out that it was an age thing, I said "OK, only 46 more years ;-)"
When going through US security at Vancouver Airport, I had already placed the fingers of my right hand on the scanner and was just about to put the digits of my left hand on the evil machine, when the guy in the booth said "that's OK, it remembered you".

Right next to long line-ups of Diesel buses turning my cigarette paper grey
After a 2 hour layover at SeaTac (the world's most confusing airport ), I arrive at SFO at 2:15 pm. My hotel is downtown, and what better way to get there than BART?  The last time I was here was roughly 15 years ago, and the purpose of that trip was the wedding of Alan and Glenda.  Now the two have two almost teenage children and all of us are in our 40s if we're lucky.  Anyhoo, I am digressing.  The reason for the digression was my intention of pointing out that 15 years ago I rented a car at SFO, because 1) at the time BART did not go all the way to the airport and 2) the wedding was in Sausalito, which can not be reached by BART, and 3) I was young and stupid.

I am definitely not young any more and hopefully not stupid any more, so this time I decided to travel by BART & electric bicycle.

Finding BART is actually surprisingly easy, and after a 12 minute wait, the rail machine arrives.

BART at SFO station
 I follow my progress towards downtown on my phones GPS (Try that in Vancouver !) and then exit at Powell Street.  Here is one of my first impressions:

There exists a kind of clearing among this jungle of high buildings.  Locals call it Union Square and it is quite famous. Hotels pride themselves of being located close to it.  Why?  Beats me. Clearings in buildings are rather frequently and they're called parks. But that alone is nothing special. I rather suspect it's the greenback rearing its ugly head again.  Not many parks can boast with stores carrying such illustrious names as Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue (But it's NOT on 5th Avenue!).
Union Square

My nose is growing just looking at this: The Streets of San Franciso with Karl Malden !!!!
 I find my hotel; however they can't find my reservation. All ends well.
 I find the bike store; however they ignored my reservation. All will end well tomorrow morning when I will swap the diminutive girl's electric bike for the real thing.  

There is not much time to run around and take more picture since Alan already announced that at tonight's dinner we shall celebrate my arrival.  My arrival?  Nonsense!  It is the summer solstice today. Longest day of the year !!!  Now that is a reason to celebrate (or mourn?).

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