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Wednesday 30 Oct 2013
San Francisco, USA

It's just a jump to the left...

Ailsa had a meeting this morning so I set up camp in Subway and caught up on a little blogging.  So far on this trip I’ve achieved a grand total of two blog posts… It is actually 28th November as I type this, it has taken me a while to catch up!  We had lunch at a diner – Ailsa’s slice of coffee cake was the biggest cube of cake I’ve ever seen! It was big enough for four people – and then headed back up a much calmer freeway to cross the new Bay Bridge back into San Francisco. 

We’d booked into the Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf and the route in took us along the Embarcadero past the piers.  The Holiday Inn was split into two buildings and we inevitably went to the wrong one first, but we were able to check in there and then go over to the other building to find our room.  Parking in San Francisco is astronomically expensive and the Holiday Inn was no exception –$136 for three nights! – but was the only option we had.  We found our room on the 4th floor and discovered someone had not only used the bathroom, but left the toilet unflushed.  Charming.  We went straight back down to reception where a rather unhelpful guy told us he could switch rooms but refused to be drawn on any other kind of compensation – we’d been fishing for an upgrade or a discount on the parking at least. So back up we went to see the new room only to discover the maids were only halfway through cleaning it so it wasn't even ready.  Back to reception again and this time made sure to be served at the Priority Club counter.  Time to play my platinum membership card more forcefully.  The concierge there was incredibly helpful and upgraded us not only to a higher floor, but with a better view AND knocked off the parking fee completely. Excellent!

We walked down to Fsherman's Wharf to explore the area and found a fish restaurant called Scoma's, which had been recommended a few times.  We had a platter of oysters, clams, prawns and crabs legs followed by lobster bisque and clam chowder, accompanied by a glass of prosecco each.  Well, it was almost my birthday.

After that we had time to change before getting a taxi across town for the birthday event - with Donna's help, I had managed to get us tickets for the opening night of the Rocky Horror Show.  Ailsa and I have always intended to see a live show, in full costume, but somehow never got around to it.  Hallowe'en seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I'd wanted to keep it a surprise from her, but couldn't resist telling her a few days ago.  Donna and I had looked at the venue location and decided it would be easiest to get a taxi there.  What I hadn't appreciated, though, was just how close it was to a very dodgy part of San Francisco.  It is amazing how much the atmosphere can change from one block to the next in this city.  Homelessness and drugs are very common problems and there are certain blocks which become no-go zones, especially after dark.  

The taxi picked us up and drove up Hyde Street Hill.  As we neared the top, the driver asked if we wanted to drive down Lombard Street's Crooked Hill.  As Ailsa hadn't yet seen it, we agreed and he turned left, weaving his way down the bends to the bottom.  Then there was a blip of a siren and flashing blue lights appeared behind us.  What our unobservant driver had not noticed was the police car behind him as he turned left - illegally - onto Lombard Street and they pulled us over at the bottom.  He had the cheek to try and blame us for it and leave the meter running while they police were checking his details.  We paid him and checked with the police that we were ok to leave, then caught a different taxi the rest of the way.  This driver was concerned about leaving us near 6th Street, driving up the alley to drop us right outside the theatre and telling us where to get a cab back afterwards. 

The Boxcar Playhouse turned out to be just a doorway, with a very small auditorium tucked inside.  Not only had I misjudged the venue, but I'd also misread the time and we had got there 90 minutes too early. We reluctantly walked around the block to find a cafe they suggested, but found a much friendlier looking diner across the street instead.  Thank goodness we hadn't had time to organise Rocky Horror costumes!  I felt terrible about getting the area and the time so wrong, especially as Ailsa's previous experience of San Francisco had left her very wary of the rougher parts of town, but once we got back inside the little theatre the mood improved considerably.  

The small stage was built on several levels, with a live band crammed onto a raised platform at the back and a catwalk out into the audience, who were seated around tables or in rows around the outside.  There was a tiny balcony just big enough for two rows of chairs, with a corner piece sticking out with one table.  A flight of stairs ran from this corner down onto the stage, so the cast could move through the whole auditorium.  There couldn't have been more than 50 people in the audience, but we had managed to score the best seats on the corner platform.  It was like having our own private box.  We could see the stage and watch the audience too.  

For those readers less familiar with the Rocky Horror Show, it is an interesting one to try and describe.  In fact, just google it.  Suffice to say it involves singing, flamboyant characters in various states of undress (or cross-dress), audience participation and a lot of laughter.  It has a cult following that usually involves the audience shouting out certain lines and wearing the same costumes as the cast, which always adds to the sense of barely controlled chaos that goes with any performance.  This was only a small production, but it was a lot of fun!  We spotted an elderly Asian couple in the audience and wondered if they knew what they were letting themselves in for, surrounded by wenches and transvestites as they were.  As soon as the cast took to the stage for the opening scene, we realised their son was in the show and we had as much fun watching them as we did the rest of the show.  (Mum was proud as punch, while Dad didn't seem quite sure what to make of it all.)  It was a brilliant evening and we throroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Maybe next time we will go in costume...


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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #1 America

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