Freedom Diaries- Day One

American customs always makes me nervous. After 20 minutes of waiting in line behind holiday travelers with sugar-withdrawal kids and overstuffed carry-on luggage I finally made it to the yellow line that separates me from the land of the free.

A bald beefy man in uniform, probably caring a gun, flagged me over to his desk. I approached and handed over my passport and plane ticket.

“Why are you going to San Francisco?” He asked, looking me straight in the eye.

“To get out of Vancouver for New Year’s.” I said with a joking exasperation.

“Oh yeah?” His eyes twinkled and he smirked, “What’s his name?”

“I don’t want to talk about it!” I sighed.

“I know exactly how you feel.” He handed me back my passport and ticket, “Have a good time.”

With that, I was in America. Leaving 2010 for California with its fresh squeezed OJ, slabs of avocado and new adventures for a new year. Actually, I was still in Canada, since customs at YVR happens before you board but, in my mind, my vacation had begun.

I was on this adventure with my friend Kitty, who didn’t have as nice a time at Customs as I did. We were flying standby because her mother worked for the airline, we didn’t know if we were on the first flight of the day until five minutes before boarding.

When we got our tickets, jaws nearly hit the floor; we were in business class. Business class! Granted on this plane business class is only nine seats that are marginally bigger than economy, but we lived it up eating our unexpected breakfast of Belgian waffles, omelets and coffee in ceramic cups. We high-fived our good fortune, sat back and enjoyed FUBAR 2 as our in-flight entertainment.

Landing in San Francisco we were welcomed by the city, a gorgeous sun, and friendly people on the BART and public transit- because that’s how we roll. If the people around us weren’t friendly they sure were entertaining; like the old man horking phlegm on the sidewalk next to toddlers, the guy with the Ghetto blaster walking down the street (just like on tv!), and panhandlers with sock puppets. Ah, America! This is what Freedom is all about. Then I scanned the crowd wondering who had a concealed weapon on them.

Kitty had arranged our accommodations through this website where you can rent out rooms or sublets of people’s apartments for super cheap.

Our place was in an ideal location. Right around the corner from the Painted Ladies, aka the Full House house! That’s right Danny Tanner was our neighbor. Of course, cheap accommodations being what they are our key wasn’t where it was previously arranged for us to find and our room was tiny, tiny, tiny barely fitting a bed, dresser and our luggage. But, for what we paid it was perfect: clean, central and beautiful.

Our shadows across from the Full House house, in the park where the cast ate their picnic in the opening credits to the show.

After dropping off our bags we set out in search of fresh squeezed OJ that Kitty has now made me a convert to. The taste is so much better than that pasteurized stuff in Tropicana bottles that we get in Canada. The best part of fresh OJ in California is that it’s SO cheap. $3 for a 16 oz large glass. Amazing!

We wandered down to the Mission district and Valencia street to poke around in beautiful little stores, many book shops, thrift stores and the famous 826 Valencia writing centre and Pirate Shop created my one of my idols, Dave Eggers.

In all the thrift shops was looking for Say Wha?! books but because San Francisco is such a literate city all the books were new and fairly decent, or advanced copies that get sent out to people in the industry. Highlights of this street were Ritual Coffee, The Curiosity Shop and a shoe store where I bought these sexy boots.

Miz Mooz Jayne Boot, only I got it in brown.

For our evening plans, Kitty had told me about this fabulous Tiki Room at a hotel that was be perfect for drinks – out of pineapples, but first we had to find dinner.

After a quick internet search we found Pasce, a cute little fish restaurant in the Russian Hill area not too far from the Fairmont Hotel where the tiki bar aka Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar was to have dinner. The food was fantastic but we sat too long and made it to the Tonga room after the band had finished and they were all out of Pineapples to drink out of. We did manage to see the last tropical storm of the night. If I’m ever back in San Francisco or any other place that has a Tonga Room I’m going there my first night and early for the show.

Here’s a video of the cheese I desire:

Drunk on American (aka Freedom) drinks we cabbed it back to our Victorian home, safe in the knowledge that Danny Tanner was around the corner if we needed anything.

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