San Francisco on a weekend. Probably full of awesome touristy things to do, and awesomer non-tourist bars and things. So we decided to leave the city, drive to Oakland and go to a swap meet.
For anyone who doesn’t know, a swap meet is basically a car boot sale / market type affair, and not something that most tourists probably get up to. But we’ve seen too many retro video game hunters filming their swap meet exploits and we were seduced by the promise of the exciting nerd bargains that they all seem to find every single time.
Not so much. We paid $1.50 each to get in to the thing but it mostly sold yoga pants and trashy handbags featuring logos and artwork that was can only assume the sellers had all the proper licenses for. The crowd was overwhelmingly Mexican, but the stalls differed significantly from UK car boot stalls only by the occasional addition of ones selling tacky religious paraphernalia (apparently in all seriousness).
We did see a couple of video game stalls but didn’t buy anything there, and nothing else piqued our interest other than some comfy looking mattresses that would have been impractical to fit into our suitcase for the return flight. So we decided to flounce off towards The Bridge and see if we could get some nice views.
The Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, beautiful, instantly recognisable, and an excellent colour for a bridge. Sadly, most of this was lost to yet more fog. Curse you, fog! You ruin Yosemite, you make my face cold and very slightly wet, and now you make sure we can only see the bottom half of the bridge! We will have our revenge, in this life or the next.
We did however see a seal swimming about happily in the Bay, and then found a North Dakota in the car park. We’d been starting to worry that people from the Dakotas don’t really leave their state, but somehow one of them had found their way to this cold, foggy, windy car park on a miserable Sunday morning. Hooray!
We went on a scenic drive (or from my point of view, a scenic be-driven-around) for better views of the foggy bridge, and then headed off on an epic trip back out through Oakland, down around the bay and through Silicon Valley. On the way we discovered such delights as the #880minion, pretty much just a minion sticking up over the tall wall at the side of the road (I can’t remember what you call those tall walls. Help?) but a nice distraction on an otherwise unbeautiful route. The drive through Silicon Valley was surprisingly exciting, all of those big names! I wanted to go find the Google HQ and take a selfie outside it but was informed in no uncertain terms that that would be “a bit sycophantic”. Charming. We did see a lot of impressive office buildings, and for some reason both said “aww” at the sight of (comparitively) young upstart Evernote, but mostly we just drove through and tried to get back to the hotel before Dave’s phone battery ran out and left us stranded without our trusty robot navigation.
For breakfast today we’d ended up in the diner opposite our hotel. It’s cute enough, but my cinnamon french toast came without cinnamon so it wasn’t going to get a great review from me.The plan tonight was to eat in the restaurant attached to our hotel, as much because it was called “Bay Watch” as because there were plenty of veggie options on the menu, but it turns out it’s a breakfast and lunch only place and closes at 2pm. Back to Mel’s Diner it was, and into what we’ve already started thinking of as “our booth”.
The booths have quaint jukeboxes and it was just all very . . . diner-ey. I was feeling queasy from being in the car all day so just needed something basic and nommy and unpretentious, ending up ordering the slightly weird combo of vanilla milkshake, grilled cheese sandwich (with three types of cheese) and potato salad. What can I say? The belly wants what the belly wants.
It was lovely, anyway, and we both came away very much fans of Mel’s Diner. The icing on the cake is that the diner itself is an Ingress portal, and being just opposite the hotel we could hack it from in bed! Omg, such luxury!
Sidenote: I might be getting a bit addicted to Ingress.