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Leaving hearts in San Francisco

March 25, 2010

As night fell, our spirits rose. It had been some time since I had embarked on a pub crawl, and the next morning as I took stock of the damage I was reminded why I should not embark on pub crawls, and possibly the reason for why I had not done so for some time. Undoubtedly the worst pub crawl I’ve been on (in terms of sheer inebriation) was in Paris in early 2009, with my good friend Carter.

On the advice of James, the guy who took us on a walking tour that day, we met back at a forgotten statue on a lonely corner at 9pm. The first few bars were relatively tame as the group got to know each other, but by the third bar I was blatantly hitting on the girlfriend of one of the group and downing pints and shots of vodka and orange juice provided by the host in between bars. By the final bar there was still a bottle of the half-and-half concoction and so the remaining few of us held out our cups for seconds, thirds and fourths.

Inside we got a final pint. My stomach had had enough by this stage and so it rejected this last intake of alcohol straight back into the glass from whence it came. Feeling utterly awful, I got a glass of water and slunk off into the corner, where I started talking to a French guy and then realised he was hitting on me. Just at this moment the bar door opened and Carter, who had been trying to call me, entered as the light from outside bathed him in something of a saviour’s aura. We staggered out into the night and caught a cab. My memory ends here thanks to the 24 standard drinks I’d consumed, but according to Carter I gave perfect directions home en français. The next day I woke up fine and went to look at modern art at the Pompidou.

At any rate, we were soon downstairs awaiting the arrival of our crawl leader. He arrived and announced that he wasn’t working for three days and it was the final night out with his beard so he was hellbent on a big one. This pleased the group and we set off into the night. At the first bar a rather attractive Swedish girl liked my shirt so I gave her the website to get it from. Steve, Chris, Phil from NZ and I grabbed a table and sank some pints. The process continued at the next bar, where something of a Carnaval theme was in evidence. We hit the spirits in between Coronas before setting off to the final bar. Upon our arrival we noticed the bar served vodka and orange juice with the juice squeezed while we watched. In our inebriated state this proved wonderfully entertaining and so more and more were ordered. At this point my memory fades. Chris, Steve and I began talking to three American girls, one of whom did not believe I was Australian, my passport was produced, I fell over several stools attempting to sit down, Chris and I stepped out into the night air and walked home.

The next morning I awoke face to face with my wallet and belt. I was later informed by Algin, the Alabaman below me, that I had somehow kicked them off my bed during the night and he had found them on his bed in the morning. On my arms was smudged writing; at some point during the night I had acquired a pen and taken it upon myself to paint my arms with “jusqu’ici tout va bien” and the closing lines of The Great Gatsby. In the shower this took a good 20 minutes to wash off.

Feeling somewhat refreshed I ventured up the road to Han’s, a cheap breakfast place, and filled myself with grease and a chocolate shake. I spent the day wandering Chinatown before heading down to Haight. In Chinatown I chanced upon a modelling shoot and the City Lights bookstore, once home to the Beats: Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Cassady, Kerouac. A level dedicated to the writers of the Beat Generation held my attention for quite some time before I descended to the basement and found a book about zombie films. I finally emerged into the dazzling sunshine and headed west and downhill.

Haight is the remaining bastion of San Francisco’s hippie culture, evidenced by the assorted tie-dye shirts and dresses walking by, long hair and the faint smell of marijuana smoke in the air. There were also a number of vintage clothing stores, and by vintage I mean real vintage: dresses and suits from the roaring 20s, steller examples from Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age. Unfortunately my backpack prevented me from making purchases and so I reluctantly returned to Haight Street and continued along, ending at Amoeba Music. Several purchases later the sun was beginning to go down and so I headed back for the hostel.

Once home I packed my bags; tomorrow I would be heading south to Los Angeles. My six days in San Francisco had flown by as I glanced through photos: Coit Tower, Lombard Street, wandering North Beach, AT&T Stadium, the Embarcadero. Downstairs I played a final game of pool with Chris and said goodbye to the various people I’d met over the week. Upstairs I went to bed in preparation for the 6.30 start in the morning.

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