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February 1, 2007
Ottawa – Montreal

Working on the day you leave for travel isn’t generally a good idea. It started with Rob not being able to find his belt and just about accusing me, then the cat, of hiding it. Then I got wet trying to help Rob fill the pails of water in the bathtub that my parents would need to water the plants while we were away.

Waiting until the day you leave to transfer money is also not the best planning. The bank machine told me I had no money, when I knew there should have been thousands and then the network was down. It resulted in my having to talk on the phone to the bank while sitting at the train station, with announcements blaring every few minutes.

In the end, the money was transferred, we caught our train to Montreal and were eventually picked up at the station by the hotel shuttle. The Holiday Inn Montreal Airport is styled like a Disney World resort by the pool, full of tropical plants and trees all lined with miniature Christmas lights. The pool is in an atrium, surrounded by hotel rooms. The atrium also has a pool table, ping pong table and other games. A bar and restaurant also look out onto the Atrium. The hotel was filled with peewee hockey teams running around saying, “Have you seen the pool?!”

February 2, 2007
Montreal – San Francisco

We took the hotel shuttle to the airport. When checking in, the Air Canada agent weighed each piece of luggage separately and informed us that the bigger one had 2 kg more than it could. It meant having to open both suitcases, run back and forth between the scale and the luggage trying to figure out what would be enough weight. Our adventures continued at pre-clearance as well. Realizing that we had brought with us an apple and some grapes for breakfast, I declared it on the customs card. It meant a trip to the podium where we had to explain what we had. We learned that you can bring it in if it still has the produce sticker on it indicating where it came from. Ours were washed and didn’t, so into the bin they went. Still better than flying through Pearson.

Once in San Francisco, we took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Union Square. Public transit offers a great opportunity to hear conversations while you stare aimlessly out the window or at one of the ads in the car. This time it was really hard not to look at the person talking because we were both trying to figure out the gender. In the end, we decided it was a transvestite who was sharing her desire to visit Vancouver with an acquaintance. S/he said she wanted to party and the Canadians wouldn’t be ready for her/him.

The goal on the first day of holidays when you have a time change is always just to stay awake. Of course we also wanted to make sure our legs would start getting into shape for all the hikes in New Zealand. Our hotel, The Chancellor, is on Powell Street, also known for its cable car. Day one was spent walking up Powell, over the hill, through Chinatown down to Pier 39, then along the Embarcadero to Market, up Post then back to Powell.

February 3, 2007
San Francisco

Today we walked up Powell through Chinatown to Vallejo, then over to the crooked part of Lombard Street. Then we walked down to rent the bicycles at Bike & Roll Rentals on Columbus at Lombard. The map wasn’t the greatest, but there were enough people to follow that directions weren’t a problem.

Our ride took us over the Golden Gate Bridge past Sausalito to Tiburon. The return was by ferry. You can really feel the traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. After the bridge we followed a twisty hill down to the water, then along the coast. There were some hills, but it was mostly flat on bike paths or in bike lanes. My bike was a “granny” sit-up tall type bike and very uncomfortable for someone who is used to a touring bike. It was also a challenge to steer and first and almost impossible to ride standing up. At Tiburon we stopped for lunch at a bakery, Swedish Pancakes, that had a patio overlooking the marina. Very yummy chicken breast with roasted red pepper panini. All in all, it was about a 40 km ride, which isn’t bad for the beginning of February. The bikes costs us US$21 each for the day. You need to pick up the brochure the day before to save $6.

Once the bikes were returned we set off to the Cannery, with its 68 different beers on tap. Last time I tried the apricot beer, which was so good I found a similar beer when I returned home (McAuslans from Montreal). This time I tried the black raspberry ale. Supper was take out from down the street, then we headed out to see Coco Montoya at Biscuit and Blues (Mason at Geary). The most memorable moment of the set was when he added some comedy with his talking guitar (a bit like Peter Frampton). Through his guitar you hear two people arguing after a bottle of Johnny Walker.

February 4, 2007
San Francisco

Had a bit of a sleep in after last night, then read the newspaper and people watched din Union Square while we waited for Pheroze. Rob finally bought some pyjamas at Macy’s on sale (but of course!). We spent the day with Pheroze, walking through Chinatown, North Beach, and down to the Pier. Stopped for lunch at Johnny Rocket and had really delicious burgers (mine was the St. Louis, Rob can’t remember his) Pheroze had the chicken sandwich and we all shared an order of fries. Then we waited for ages to see the Queen Mary II, but became too impatient and took the J-line MUNI to Delores Park. Lots of very posh houses, but two streets over is Mission St. and the neighbourhood changes drastically. Pheroze told us he’s been hit over the head with a bottle by a mentally disturbed woman (and needed stitches) and had a homeless man try to bite his leg. His mountain bike has been stolen three times. But he still misses New York City.

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