Freitag, 22. Juni 2012

June 22 - San Francisco
That morning I got up at 8:30 while Christoph was still asleep. I took a shower and nervousness about the upcoming bike trip started creeping up my whole body.
The bike shop would open at 11:00. Christoph suggested to have breakfast somewhere on the way to the bikeshop. This walk led us through the Tenderloin district. People were sleeping on mattresses on the sidewalk or were walking around barefoot. Most people were black, wearing thick golden necklaces or a ghetto blaster. But we never feld threatened!
After passing the bike shop we found a place where we had a delicious and cheaper breakfast than on the 2 days before. At 11:15 we entered the bike shop and about 1 hour later I had bought a new bike, learnt some new vocabulary (f.e. schrader valve = Autoventil, presta valve = französisches Ventil, kick stand = Fahrradständer, rack = Gepäckträger) and had about 800 USD less on my bank account. The funny thing was that I couldn't pay the whole amount using my credit card because it was declined. I tried to call my credit card company to ask them to allow this payment but it was outside German business hours. Finally Christoph paid the bike with his credit card (now I have to pay all our hotel and meal invoices til the end of our vacation...)
We also asked the clerk where we could buy bike maps and books about biking along the coast. He wasn't sure but he recommended his two favourite bookstores in town.
After I had bought the bike (I could store it one more night at the bike shop and would pick it up the next morning, when our tour started) we went back to the hotel, looked up the addresses of the bookstores and walked to the first one. This bookstore didn't have any maps or biking books. Therefore we took a public bus at 15:15 to the next bookstore that was located about 30 minutes away from SA downtown. We spent about one hour in the 2nd bookstore and asked the shop clerk whether there exist books about riding a bike along the Pacific Coast with hotel recommendations at all. He affirmed but that bookstore couldn't satisfy our needs either. When we went back to our hotel by bus the 2 of us were a little bit frustrated. We had spent almost the whole day with looking for maps and guide books but we hadn't been successful.

Preparation of our bike trip
Ok I must confess there had been almost no preparation of our bike trip in advance. Christoph had bought a book about a couple that had travelled from Vancouver to Mexico by bike. The tour was described in detail including a mileage log and camping-sites along the route. But we hadn't brought any tents or sleeping bags with us because of the weight. Actually we thought we could buy a book in SA including addresses and telephone numbers of hotels and motels along the route.... Anyway... What we learnt later on was that one can buy maps or camping or hiking books in outdoor shops like REI. Or one can find biking maps in bike shops but they never cover your complete journey (only parts of it).

On the way back to our hotel we had dinner in a diner (my credit card still didn't work so I had 2 problems to solve: credit card and bike maps)

dinner in a typical diner

Christoph in the diner

When we were back in our hotel we started searching the internet for hostels, hotels etc. Actually we wanted to organize our trip more or less spontaneously but a closer look at the route and considering my fitness level changed our minds that we might have to book our accomodations at least 2 days in advance. As we found out later 3 or 4 days in advance were even better, especially on the weekends when everybody was travelling and in areas where only a few hotels are available.

At least we managed to book our first 2 nights (one expensive one and one Youth Hostel) on the internet.

Christoph at work

our tidy hotel room

The best part on this evening was Christoph's saying: "Let's forget about the tour, I'll throw my bike into the ocean, we'll rent a car and drive along the Coast":-) (And this after he had already paid about the same amount for storing and flying his bike to the US than I had paid for my new bike in total....I guess he had just hit his personal rock bottom...)

At 23:00 local time (8:00 German time) I called my credit card company (using my cell phone - I am really looking forward to the costs of that call...) and told them that my credit card hadn't been stolen and that I was really in the US and that they please might activate my credit card again.
Actually at the beginning of my Sabbatical I had called and told them that I would travel a lot in 2012. The guy I talked with promised to put a note about this info into my file but as I learnt now they can only store these notes for 2 or 3 months in advance. Therefore they didn't know anything anymore about my US-trip. And I have to call them again before I travel to South America...German bureaucracy....
=> At least one problem was solved after 23:00:-)

Before we went to bed at 1:00 we came to the decision that a ride on the SA tram (that we had planned for that day after buying all the maps:-) ) and a visit of Alcatraz would be due during our 2nd visit in SA when we were driving around California by car.

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