Friday, 21 October 2016

Trade craft of an escape artist (or YVR to SFO)

After dealing with bilateral mediocrity at the security check and immigration control, I head straight for the Adult Section of the Duty Free Store. I still remember the strange feeling of EVERYONE looking at me when I entered the nudie magazine section of stores in my younger years (Remember, there was NO internet then) when I'm heading into the shielded-off and over-21-years-sign-protected section where they keep the tobacco products.   How times have changed ! Tobacco is the new Porn !

Anyhoo, they have something new there. Most things haven't changed. A carton of Canadian cigarettes costs almost CAD$ 90.  A carton of American cigarettes is much cheaper at CAD$ 63, so that is usually what I buy. Strange, American cigarettes contain  fewer additives and consequently taste better than Canadian products, so who in his right mind would pay more for an inferior product?  You guessed it: Canadians. (LOL)
So what is new?  Vancouver Duty Free now sells Chinese cigarettes.   For CAD$ 45 per carton. How could I refuse, especially with the charming name of the brand ;-)
No smoking lounge, but a Dog Shit-House?  Oh, P_LEASE, YVR, get real 
I get in the plane only to find out that I have the seat that I always envied other people for.  The small Airbus planes on this route have two emergency exits over the wings and at the exit doors, one window seat is just missing.  I'm sitting right behind that giant void, i.e. I have unlimited leg room.

I sleep through about 1.5 hours of the 2-hour flight.   But I wake up early enough to see San Francisco Bay approaching through the window.  Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, downtown San Francisco, everything is visible in breathtaking detail. Unfortunately my camera is in my backpack

Not my pic. And this doesn't even come close to the amazing view I had
Downtown San Francisco looks like an Aluminum sculpture of amazing detail. My seat neighbours ( a couple in their early 20s) are wielding a cell phone but the hope of getting a shot from a seat that far from the window is ZERO, so I offer to take a picture for them.  Let's just say that cell phone camera controls should be more standardized and that after 3 failed attempts, my neighbours treat me like a regrettable old man who never had a camera in his hand.  No point in disputing that assessment ;-)

At SFO airport I march straight to the front of the terminal (a Looooong walk) and light a cigarette.  As soon as I step out of the door, I  am surprised by the strength and HEAT the 5 pm afternoon sun hits my paling skin. Looking at the normally coloured (i.e. not pale) laughing people in the smoking area, I feel like something that has lived in a dark cold cave for 20 years and now has crept to the outside for the first time.

5 pm shadows

I take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit from the airport to Civic Center Station (Somewhere in a box in Vancouver is a BART ticket with $10 left, but since I simply have too many boxes I ended up buying another one).  

By the time I reach Civic Center, it is almost 6 and the sun is low.

This is also the first time I take a bus in San Francisco. I acquired a Clipper Card at a vending machine in the Bart station and after a bit of a wait get to board an overcrowded bus for the rather steep fare of US$ 2.25.  But I'm too tired to walk !

The hotel is CHEAP for San Francisco, but then it also definitely is no Trump hotel (thank God!) , Muslims, Latinos, People who pay their rent here by providing favours to other guests (We'll leave it at that since there might be minor readers ;-), as well as guests who simply refuse to pay more than $300 per night to stay in a fancy hotel.. NO visitors are allowed between 9 pm and 9 am and most rooms don't have their own bathroom. Reminds me of the places on Hastings Street in Vancouver.  I'm staying In an SRO hotel !!!

But I sleep for an amazing 13 hours and the only reason I finally walk across the street to find some coffee is that the check-out hour is approaching rapidly.  That Sauvignon Blanc I bought at the CVS across the street before checking in might have something to do with that ;-)

You might have noticed a certain trend here. Instead of Davidoff Cigars, taxi cabs, and the San Francisco Nikko Hotel you see  cheap Chinese cigarettes, cheap public transport, and an SRO hotel.  

The moral of the story?  Whatever you don't spend on this trip can finance the next trip !

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