Long haul flights are odd things. By some standards the ten-and-a-bit hour flight to San Francisco from London isn't all that long, but with the time difference it makes for a long day.
Starting at 04:00 in Bristol I have travelled first to Heathrow then to San Francisco in what was an uneventful journey. I was a little unfortunate on the plane to have a man with long legs behind me and a man who spent the whole flight with his chair reclined in front of me. With the help of a book and a little sleeping I managed to pass the time which seemed of an undefined length so it didn't really feel odd to get off the plane at lunch time here in San Francisco.
After finally getting through all the queues and immigration controls we left the airport in a taxi heading for central San Francisco. The views I was greeted with were remarkably foreign to me although TV tends to make things feel a bit familiar in places. Out by the airport the land has a really desrt feel to it with harsh light and the bright concrete of the intricate, twisting elevated road ways. As we approached the city though the famous San Francisco fog was surrounding the tallest of the enourmous sky-scrapers and the sites both famous and notorious started to appear. On the taxi ride in I saw some of the classic hill-side streets stretching up toward the bridge and we drove past the Glide Methodist Church where food is provided for homeless people in the Tenderloin district and was featured in the film "In Persuit of Happiness". I was glad to see this from the car as advice for tourists is to avoid this area on foot because of its high crime rate, although it seemed fairly peaceful as we drove through.
Walking out of the hotel into the city this evening we soon came across one of the iconic cable-cars running up and down the steep streets. The day time temperature here, although peaking high can get quite cold in the sea breeze and damp, foggy air we found whilst wandering through some of the higher streets.
Today I've seen a city of extreme contrast in the few hours I've been here, both the poverty and shabbiness of the Tenderloin area and the extreme oppulence of the Nob Hill district. The classic grid pattern of an American city is apparent and cliches like a Starbucks on every corner appear to be true. I look forward to exploring a little more over the next week but as it is gone 20:00 local time I've been awake for 24 hours now (excluding my nap for an hour on the plane) I'm going to sleep.