Day 46. Friday 28 June.
What to do with a full day – our flight isn’t until 10.25 PM, although D for a while (until T pulled him back into line) was planning our trip to the airport based on a morning flight. It’s been a long trip.
We still had our 24 hour Big Bus ticket, so eventually decided to use it to get to Sausalito, a small town of about 9,000 on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Big Bus Red Route crosses the Golden Gate and then returns to SF: the trip into Sausalito is by another bus that provides a circuit of the area Green Route -– for an additional price, of course.
There was another queue to join to get on the bus. One gentleman appeared and lodged himself in front of us, continuously gesturing to others in his party further back to stay where they were. This continued as the queue moved forward, until that time when we would be included in the next group to board, which is when he moved and his group butted in ahead of us. D had had enough after 6 weeks of this, and told him brusquely to get back in the queue where he belonged. ‘But they’re family’ was the response. D was not in the least bit interested, and said so. When we got to the bus, the interloper stood back to let us on ahead, so D signalled a lone American woman who had been behind us and also therefore gazumped, to come forward. A small victory.
Sausalito’s charm is that it is relatively unspoiled, with the tourist strip confined to the ‘front road’ and it’s on a warmer aspect of the bay. A stroll after breakfast along the waterfront took us away from the main tourist precinct.
Lots of very expensive watercraft and a few interesting ones (not the one pictured, which we think would look good moored in the Derwent River).
The bus driver on our return trip mentioned one modelled after the Taj Mahal, the owner spending about $2 million dollars to replicate that icon after a visit to India where he fell in love with it. Lots of rooms and bathrooms, and a cellar, and it stays moored where it is.
On the return leg to the pick- up point, the bus driver commented on the heavy traffic on the bridge, caused partly by cars trying to take a short cut but instead creating congestion. And they kept coming. He offered instead to drop everyone off on the SF side of the bridge – as long as we didn’t tell anyone about this unauthorised route deviation. Even so, it was slow moving, and we arrived just as an almost empty Big Bus departed the stop. Needless to say, the next bus was full – no spare seats. By this time the waiting crowd was getting a bit edgy. The next bus turned up, also almost full. A couple got off and the driver was happy to let everyone on, with people standing in the aisle, or sitting on wheel arches. Part of the charm of the Big Bus tours was the constant, zany patter of the conductor/driver. In each journey, stories and jokes were told, the monologues interspersed with the loud belly-laughing of the speaker, and all the while, the speed of speech and the accents of the Afro-American speakers meant that only half was intelligible. The good cheer of all the tourist workers we encountered was admirable.
Friday rush hour at the beginning of a weekend when SF would be a ‘sh..heap’ looked ominous. George, the airport taxi driver would be escaping the city for the wine district of Napa but for our airport trip he was very communicative, and spoke almost non-stop for the 45 minute journey. Politics, the health system, California’s demographic (it’s Chinese), Silicon Valley workers, ‘all medical & pharmaceutical research in that valley’… ‘the guy in that car on our right , I’ve seen him in Tenderloin and he’s a crack dealer,’… He seemed well-informed, perhaps because he’d had a previous career in the corporate world. He must have done well: he said he owned the taxi licence, which had cost him a quarter million 15 years ago! T was a bit perturbed by the hands-free approach to driving (off the wheel, that is) and George’s frequent turning around to introduce us to his next topic.
Getting to the airport early means waiting for 4 hours to board, but it also meant we avoided long queues at check-in and security, both of which were remarkably short.
Our next post, the final for this trip, will hopefully just be a postscript saying: home safely.
Firsr the book, next the movie: