The last few days, it would be fair to say, hadn’t gone exactly to plan. With the mental detour and the crazy Yosemite weather, we were about ready to get back on track again. So it was a fortuitous coincidence that the very day we were arriving in San Francisco was also the day of Eurovision – the enjoyment of which is a peculiar quirk that we both have in common. Ending up in America’s gayest city would at least mean we stood a chance of seeing it somewhere other than iPlayer in the hotel room. And sure enough, a bit of Google research revealed that a bar in the Castro district was doing their annual showing of it.
The only possible problem with this plan was that in this timezone, Eurovision was staring at noon and we were two hundred miles east of where we needed to be. So, once again, we packed up our bindles, jumped in the car at the crack of dawn and set off for ‘Frisco (which they hate being called, apparently).
I think we were both a bit nervous driving a fair distance after Thursday, but the journey was actually very uneventful. The rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas eventually giving way to the parched grasslands and wind farms of western California, it was quite a pleasant drive. The traffic definitely increased in density though, pretty much for the first time all trip, and we got held up a few times entering SF, but we got there eventually and had the good fortune to find ourselves allowed to park at the hotel and check in early. So at 11:50am, we were standing on the street and trying to figure out how to get across town to Castro in ten minutes flat.
Michelle’s research had led her to “Lyft”, which is an internet car company that uses an app on your smartphone to request a driver and get you places. We decided to try this, and after a bit of difficulty getting our payment method accepted (bloody zip codes again!) we eventually managed to summon a car (which arrived in minutes) and we were on our way. The whole process was awesome – exactly what taxi companies should be. You don’t need to hand over any cash and you can decide the tip later. You can see where your ride is on a map, and check you’re taking the most sensible route. And best of all, it stopped to pick up other passengers going the same route, so it worked out cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
Taxi companies understandably hate apps like Lyft and Uber, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a taxi service for the internet age and if old school cabs don’t get their acts together, they’ll likely go extinct very soon.
We eventually arrived, a little later than noon but only one song into the competition and found that the bar (the Midnight Sun) was packed with Eurovision fans. Lots of ex-pats wrapped in their country’s flags and enthusiastic local lads who knew far more about Eurovision than you might expect from Americans. Even better, the bar was on permanent happy hour, with two drinks for the price of one all afternoon. The atmosphere was awesome and we ended up talking to lots of people who seemed genuinely interested (and confused, and enthused) by the competition. Sweden seemed to be a popular win among the crowd and everyone appeared to be have a great time.
It should be said that we were quite drunk when we left, and spent a pleasant few minutes wandering around Castro looking for a place to request another Lyft, before heading back to the hotel. After getting our bags out of the car (where we’d left them), we grabbed a takeaway pizza, scoffed the lot and fell asleep early.
A great day!