“Hey do you fancy going to SF next month? My dad has a trip flying out there and we can tag along…”
“Yeah, sure how long for?”
“Erm… its only 2 nights”
“F**k it lets do it”
Having a friend whose father is an airline captain has its definite perks. Arriving late in San Fran suitably tipsy from 11 hours of continuous champagne however was probably not the best way to start out our trip and set the tone for what turned out to be a manic couple of days. With such a short amount of time in city we felt that we had to make the most of the time available to us.
An early jetlagged start down to grab tickets for the day trip to Alcatraz Island after approx. 3 hours sleep + the hangover from 8 (or was it 10?) beers from the night before meant that we were probably the loudest and jovial members of the queue. Making friends with some Swedish travellers we toured the prison island. It's remarkable the views these inmates had over the Bay Area and the audio tour proved to be super immersive.
We’d been recommended that the best way to see the Golden Gate bridge was on tandem bike. It definitely proved to be the most comical and unpractical way to squeeze through the crowds of tourists on the way across. The sheer size and colour of the bridge is as impressive as it looks in photos and I hope I’ve been successful in trying to capture it in interesting ways.
After a late lunch and some Irish Coffee, we met up with our friend Dan who we first partied with whilst travelling in Vietnam last year. He now works for Google and was happy to show us the city. Bouncing from bar to bar in China Town (with the distinctive memory of throwing up after a shot of strange whisky) we ended up partying in a club near Golden Gate Park 'til the early hours.
Dan had work in the morning and offered us a bleary eyed tour of the Google SF offices. Hungover AF we met up early to see whether they were as awesome as they’re hyped to be. Turns out they are. The entire front of the building has stunning views of the Oakland Bridge and inside it is like no other office, with nap pods, cocktail bars and one room entirely filled with 3D printers.
Wandering the city, the divide between the rich and poor is evident, with SF social benefits policy requiring no fixed address to claim, meaning that the homeless roam even the most affluent streets. It’s a strange comparison to draw with the super rich tech elite who work mostly in the area and endemic of the divide we see in the US today.
With a quick tram ride and trip up to the top of the iconic 8 hair-pin turned Lombard Street complete, it was time to catch our flight back to London. Total time in SF – 49 hours. Thankfully the flight home was quiet and the captain was able to upgrade us both to First Class for the journey. Finally, time for some rest!
Iain is a serving British Army helicopter pilot with a passion for photography. Check his work at @imagesbyiain.