San Francisco and Las Vegas
February 1st to 16th 2003
Saturday, february 1'st
Leaving Vejle with bus no. 907 at 10.40 am. In Billund International Airport I board my SAS commuter flight to Kastrup, where this trip will be starting.
9 hour SAS-flight to Chicago. This is kind of boring, when there is no sound on you in-flight entertainment at your seat. Well it's a good thing always to bring your walkman, but a bad thing not to bring any batteries.
Arriving at Chicago at 5 pm local time. Security is tight here. The alarm goes "beep" as I walk through it. Off with your shoes and another check. When the security-guy finds out, that I have forgotten the keys in my pockets, the result is a "shame on you!!". He is also the guy that can tell me about the crash of the space-shuttle "Columbia" this morning.
On with United Airlines to San Francisco. I'm here at 10 pm local time. But my luggage is not. It's on the next plane.
This is not my problem, and United Airways will have the job to send it to Baldwin Hotel, while I take the shuttle-bus. This hotel is a nice place, very central close to Chinatown, cheap and a nice and big room. It's around midnight when I'm lying in my bed. This is 9 am danish time, so yes - I'm tired. Actually I'm so tired that I dont feel anything of this night "earthquake". 3,2 on the Richter-scale - well I guess this is a normal thing around here.
February, sunday 2'nd
My luggage has arrived during the night, the sun is shining, its almost 20 degrees celsius - can this get any better?. I'm so happy that I decide to walk all the way to Haight Ashbury to look for acid-heads.
There are not many strange people left out there, from the time where Gratefull Dead was ruling the area back in the sixties. But on the way I meet a lot of sad people, who's got there whole life in a black plastic-bag og a stolen shopping-trolley. This is what I hate about America - that no one cares about these people.
At Haight Ashbury I visit a the huge record-store of Amoeba Music. This store is the size of the biggest supermarket in my hometown. They sell both new and used CD's - and a lot more. I buy only 2 - but could have used the whole tour-budget right here.
It was a long walk out here, so I start to use my 7-day muni-pass (15$) on the bus back to downtown.
Later it's timer for another walk - from the hotel - through Chinatown - to Coit Tower, with a nice view - and down to the touristtrap of all touristtraps in this world - yes its Pier 39 and Fishermanns Wharf. It's not just a long walk - it's also up and down all the way. So that's a good reason to take a tram back home.
Dinner in Chinatown, at a chinese restaurant that I remember from my first visit to San Francisco. That is 15 years ago. From here it's time for Baldwin Hotel again. The radio-station is playing Doors, Neil Young and that kind of music - som acid-heads is still around anyway.
February, monday 3'rd
Wake up at 6 am!! - on a vacation-day. This is not normal. I read a little before going for breakfast.
Later I take no. 14 to The Mission, a spanishspeaking and quite lively neighbourhood. Lots of murals around here. I just take a look around, sit at a cafe - and let the life of The Mission pass by.
On to Mission Dolores - an old church for 1776, when the spaniards were ruling around here. Supposed to be the oldest building in San Francisco. Then it's on to Castro, another area for people with a different lifestyle. And finally it's a tram back to downtown
The day ends with another walk, among others to see the tallest building in San Francisco - the Transamerica Pyramid - and a walk along Columbus Avenue, before it's dinnertime at some junk-food place in Chinatown.
February, tuesday 4'th
A long trip today, with the bus from Great Pacific Tours along Highway 1 to Carmel and Monterey.
This is a very nice trip along the coast of California. We start at 8 am and arrive at Carmel at lunchtime. Carmel is for the rich people. Clint Eestwood used to be the mayor.
Then the trip goes along The 17-mile drive. This is very nice - and the sun is shining all over. There are 5 famous golf-courses right next to eachother, among them Pebble Beach where they are prepering for a pro-am tournament this weekend. A lot of celebrities will take part - Neil Young for instance - so much for acid-head.
You can buy yourself a house in this area. It's about 12 mio. $ - and thats the cheapest!!
On to Monterey, an old sardin-town known from a few John Steinbeck novels - for instance Cannery Row.
Finally we return for San Francisco, with at stop at Garlic World, where everthing they sell is with garlic. Even the icecream - yak. We pass a lot of artichoke-fiels, where undepaid illegal mexican immigrates is harvesting with their bare hands. They won't be the one moving to Pebble Beach.
Back in San Francisco at 7.30.
February, wednesday 5'th
Start the day with a cable-car trip to Fishemans Wharf. From here you can take the boat to Alcatraz, to see the famous prison, known from severel movies. Years ago it was occupied by som indians, living in an autonomous society, but they were thrown out years ago.
At the prison the give you some kind of walk-man thing, which is used as a guide. Old inmates and guards tell about the life in the prison. That is very interesting. I spend a few hours out here - before heading back to Fishermans Wharf
Then it's on to Pier 39 to see the sea-lions. They occupied an area of Pier 39 about 10 years ago, making their own society. Well - they have been thinking of ways to get rid of them, but they turned out to be a huge tourist-attraction, and was therefor allowed to stay. Seems to be more money coming from sea-lions than from indians.
In the evening it's time for the the worst part of this trip. I had a ticket for an NBA-game between Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. But they would let me in because I have bringing a small backpack and my amateur-camera. They thought it was a big backpack and a professionel camera. There was nowhere to store it - and I didn't have the time to go back to the hotel. There was nothing else to do than sell the ticket on the black market. I complained to the club when I returned back home - and the offered me a ticket for another match!!. They sure a clever at Golden State Warriors. You can't be surprised that they are doing so poorly in the NBA.
February, thursday 6'th
From the morning it's down to SOMA (South of Market) to take a look at the entertainment-center Metreon. Nothing fancy about that, but the Yerba Buena Gardens close to was very nice.
Then it's on to Union Square, the center for shopping in San Francisco. Here you find Macy's. I take a look around, but there is really nothing that I need to buy. But I could go shopping-crazy in the bookshop Borders, at the corner of Union Square. I only buy 3 books, but american bookshops are really something.
Later it's back to Fishermans Wharf. Here I take a trip with San Francisco Sightseeing to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Muir Woods is a forest with old Redwood-trees, that are very high. That's a very nice place.
Then to Sausalito, a tiny village at San Francisco Bay. Why this is on the sighseeing-list I don't quite understand. So I spend the time chatting with a swiss guy from the bus, that is on his way to North Korea, to teach them how to make cheese.....
Back in San Francisco at 7 - and dinner in Chinatown.
Friday, february 7'th
Looooong walk today. But first - I take my favourite tram to Fishermanns Wharf. From there I walk along the bay to Golden Gate Bridge. Plenty of police around here. The nation is put on "orange" terror-alert - second-highest - and they seem care a lot on famous bridges. But you can still cross it by foot. It's about 3 km long, so together with the trip out there, it's a pretty decent walk. And eventrhough the sun is shining, it's pretty cold because of the heavy winds on the bridge. But it's worth the trouble - the Golden Gate Bridge is very nice - and there is a great view across San Francisco and the bay-area.
I take the bus back to Fishermanns Wharf - it's time for a late pizza at Pier 39 - tram back to the hotel, where I'm back at 5 pm. This is kind of it for today. So I spend the evening in front of the TV watching Leathel Weapons 4 on TBS Superstation
Saturday, february 8'th
Starting the day with a little shopping. There's a huge golf-store just opposite the hotel. I buy myself a nice pair of golf-shoes, half the price compared to Denmark.
Time for sightseeing again. I have found a great walking-guide on the net of Pacific Heights - the very rich neighbourhood. So I take my favourite cable-car up there. It runs up and down California Street, and not nearly as many tourists, as those who runs to Fishermanns Wharf. I take a look at Pacific Heights, and you can see on the cars and the houses that money is no problem around here. I reach the top at Fillmore Street, with a spectacular view of the city and the bay.
Later that day it's time for another walk around Chinatown. The main thing around here is shopping. On Grant Avenue you can buy anoything crap - while all the food-stalls are gatheted at Stockton Street. There are a lot of shops with fish not dead yet.
They are warming up for the chinese new year, that is celebrated this week. Tonight they will crown "Miss Chinatown". From now celebrations will continue until we reach the year of the ram.
Dinner at a real american Diner. Lories Diner is one of the real kinds. There's a Corvette right in the middle. But you can not sit there and eat - like you can do in Pulp Fiction.
Sunday, february 9'th
In the morning I take bus no. 5 to Ocean Beach. Here The Golden Gate Park starts (or ends). This is the Central Park of San Francisco - a huge park. All the natives use it for running, skating, cykling, playing baseball or golf, picnic - yes even sailing small remote-controlled boats on a little lake. A lot of people and a great place to hang around on a sunday like this.
I just walk through the park - that will take a couple of hours - and the trip ends at Haight Ashbury. From here I take no. 7 downtown.
Later that day my final San Francisco-shopping at Borders - and my last San Francisco Dinner at Lories.
Monday, february 10'th
Leaving San Francisco, but first coffee and a bagel at my breakfast-place round the corner.
Check-out, and an airport-shuttle to San Francisco Airport. Check-in at AmericaWest, that for 70$ will take me to Las Vegas. Tickets has been bought by internet from back home.
In Las Vegas you don't need much time to find out where you are. The arrival-hall is full of slot-machines. I take a taxi to my hotel Luxor, chosen because they had a good offer - 60$ a night - and this places is way above my usual standard. Always remember - hotels in Vegas are cheap between mondays and thursdays.
Check-in at the pyramide-shaped Luxor. A nice view over the Strip and the airport. Luxor is much more than a hotel - more like an entertainment-palace. Actually you could stay here - not going out - and have a good time anyway.
It's time for my first walk down "The Strip", where most of the hotels and casinos are placed. Back to Luxor for the evening, and my first visit to a casino. I win a little on the slots, and dine at Pharaos Feast, with an all-you-can-eat buffet for 15$.
Tuesday, february 11'th
Get up late before going to the casino. I winn a little again, before heading for the "city" - or should I say "The Strip" - walking up and down this weird place. You will always find some kind of excitement around here. For instance the very nice fountain in front of the expensive casino-hotel Bellagio. Or what about watching a 10 year old japanese-girl climbing a 30-meter high climbing-wall in another casino.
Back to Luxur. Buffet-lunch at Pharaos Feast (10$] before a little relaxation at my room. In the evening im going to Downtown Las Vegas - or should I say Freemont Street, where there is a huge lightshow called The Freemont Experience. Back with the bus to "The Strip", where I jump off the bus a few km. before reaching Luxor. I would like to take the rest on foot, to take some pictures in the dark of all this neon and artificial light
Back at Luxor at 10 - just time for another visit to the casino. This time I loose.
Wednesday, february 12'th
It's raining cats and dogs today, so activities are a little slow. First breakfast at Pharaos. Then a little gambling on the slots. I loose.
Then on to the neighbour-casino of Mandaley Bay to see "The shark reef" a nice aquarium with lots of fishes and sharks.
Back to Luxor, where the pyramide-shape is not that practical anyway. You can almost guess it, but when the rain is pouring down such a thing, it's the best thing that the windows close tight. Mine doesn't - so it starts raining in my room!!!. I call the reception, but they seem to be a little low in IQ. They send a young boy to the room with 3 towels, to take the worst part. So that is what we are trying to do - together with all the garbage-cans we can find in the room - that is 2!!
I spend the rest of this dreadfull day at Luxor. Watch an IMAX-movie about Grand Canyon - dinner at Pharaos - and of course gambling where I loose again.
Thursday, february 13'th
Sightseeing today. Leaving at 6 am and going by bus through the desert of Nevada and Arizona to Grand Canyon
We pass Hoover Dam, where security-guys stop the bus, and checks everything. This is also because of the fear for terrorists.
Finally we reach Grand Canyon. This is a second-time for me. I was her in 1987 as well.
Unfortunately Grand Canyon is not presenting it-self today. Clouds are hanging low down the valley, and take most of the spectacular views I know is here. So you don't really get to see, what for me still is the most spectacalur place I have ever seen on earth. When we are heading home, there are so many clouds, that you can see absolutely nothing down the canyon.
Back at Luxor at 9. Just enough time for another visit to the casino before bed-time. I win a lot this night. So much the coin-changer goes berserk, when I throw all my quarters down the drain (600 pieces - or a little more). So they have to call for an "assistent", before I can have my money changed for some decent notes.
Friday, february 14'th
Take the bus to the Stratosphere-casino, all the way up the other end of "The Strip". Here you will find Stratoshhere Tower, almost 400 meters high, with a great view over Vegas. And this is really Vegas, because at the top a wedding-ceromony is going on - could it be more Vegas on Valentines Day?
From Stratosphere it's a 5 km long walk to the other end of "The Strip". You pass a lot of hotels and casinos - for instance Circus Circus - where acrobats are hanging above the gamling-tables. I also take a look inside New Frontier and Ceasars Palace, and throw a few coins into their slot-machines. Ceasers are known for fancy shopping and big boxing-fights, while New Frontiers try to make a living out of cheap margaritas and bikini bull riding every friday evening. I think this is what is called segregation
I also have time for a little final shopping. T-shirts, and some of these great american cookies you can't find anywhere else. And something for my bad throat as well.
Because of my bad throat I spend the evening at Luxor. I loose a little on the slots again. That's all that I have dared to try. But the slots are "idiot-proof" - no "holding" og "nudging" - not a chance to think and make mistakes. And another great advantage here, are the cocktail-waitresses walking around offering cocktails. You don't see that in Denmark. Free drinks is part of the fun going to a Vegas-casino.
I don't really know what else to say about Vegas. Pretty funny - and extremely tasteless at the same time. And I can't seem to find anywhere else in the world where the section "adult entertainment" is 94 pages in the yellow pages. But the casinos are fun - I better admit that.
Saturday, february 15'th and Sunday, february 16'th
Leaving Las Vegas today. First I take the inclinator down (an inclinator is a lift that is also going sideways). Breakfast-buffet - before I change 5$ til 15 in the slots - just for the principle.
Taxi to the airport - the usual security-check - United Airlines to Chicago - the usual security-check - and then SAS to Copenhagen. As usual I can't sleep on the plane, but this time the in-flight-entertainment is ok.
In Copenhagen at 1.15 sunday. Then it's just to board the train for Vejle - and I'm back home at 5.