Monday, 8 August 2011

The best laid plans

Anyone who knows me will know that when it comes to planning trips, I make Owen Wilson’s character in The Darjeeling Limited (with his laminated itineraries and monogrammed luggage) look disorganised.  So when something goes wrong, as it did in San Francisco last Wednesday, I take it as a personal affront to my carefully typed schedule.

Things had been going pretty well in San Francisco but I’d definitely seen all I wanted or needed to.  The huge numbers of tourists made it hard to move around the downtown area without getting stabby and the equally large numbers of beggars, street corner ranters and itinerants did not make for a relaxing time.  I’d seen Golden Gate Park, the Haight and the Castro & Mission districts, rented a bike and cycled across the bridge to Sausalito… in short, all the things I had written on that schedule.  Ready to leave on Wednesday morning, Richard and I sat with our bags waiting to be picked up by the tour company with whom we were booked on a 3 day tour of Yosemite National Park.  We waited, and we waited…. and we waited some more.  The hostel receptionist eventually took pity on us and phoned the company to find out where our pick-up was.  In short, there would be no pick-up.  The tour company (Yosemite Bug Bus) had no record of my booking and the 3 day tour had been cancelled as not enough people had signed up.  Their attitude was a kind of "meh, what can you do?" despite the fact that I was clutching my confirmation email in my now-clenched fist.  So, with no way of getting to Yosemite and more importantly, with no place to stay for the next two nights, I had a mini-nervous breakdown in the lobby of the hostel. 

To cut a VERY long story short we did manage to find beds for both nights (the lovely staff at USA Hostels even gave us a discount for the Wednesday) and we signed up with a different company for a day tour to Yosemite.  All’s well that ends well?  Not quite.  Throw in a bus malfunction on the way back from the national park and the grottiest room in the grottiest hostel I’ve ever seen.  I wish I’d taken photos to capture the horror.  On the up side, Yosemite Valley is just about the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  Which made it even more of a shame that instead of three days there, we had three hours.

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