Just sausage and boiled eggs for brekkie again. I don’t eat much. My stomach isn’t feeling great, but at least I can still see. Andrew doesn’t even go down for it, preferring more kip.
Back in my room I start writing up yesterday. And decide to get through some of the beer. There’s too much to fit into my check in bag. Now where is my bottle opener? I let the kids have it. Bastards. They must have taken it to their room. Luckily, I’ve one can.
When the kids turn up, I ask Andrew: “Do you have my keys.” He rummages in his pockets and says: Sorry dad, here they are.” He helps me get stuck into the beer.
“I think I’ll leave the Alcohol here.”
“Good idea, dad. If it leaked there’d be a risk of your bag going up in flames.”
“Good point, Andrew. I was worrying more about my eyesight.”
“There’s that, too.”
I promised Alexei he could pick what we did today. His choice: a diner. Fair enough by me. I like me a good diner. There’s one, Sliders, on the same street, Sutter, as our hotel. Decision made. Especially as the gradient to there isn’t that crazy.
We check up, dump our luggage and head off. Sliders is a classic diner with lots of chrome. Just what Alexei was after. The kids order hamburger and chips, while I go for a Louisiana hot links hotdog. I skip the chips. Andrew actually finishes his meal – there’ a first.
Filled up, it’s time for a couple of beers. At least for me and Andrew. Alexei will have the fun of watching. Tommy’s Joynt is our choice, mostly because it’s close.
On the way there we pass a pub outside which there was a pile of vomit yesterday. I'ts still there, now baked dry onto the pavement.
"Now there's a pub I wouldn't go in, Andrew."
Tommy's, on the other hand, is somewhere I’m happy to drink. An odd cross between a slightly kitschy diner and a bar. I don't care. They have a few decent beers. That's all I'm worried about. And it's enough like a classic American bar to please Andrew.
I start with a Lagunitas IPA, then have a Marin Pale Ale. Andrew has a few ciders and an Anchor Steam. As always Andrew is out-drinking me at least two pints to one. I feel very old.
Old blokes who are obviously regulars come in and eat. It looks like the always have the same meal. The way they eat is very ritualised.
Alexei isn't delighted about drinking cola for two hours, but he doesn't really complain.
"Just as long as I have a drink when we get to Canada."
"I promise." We've already checked for places that will be open close to our hotel. We should be OK. I wouldn't want to break a promise as solemn as this. One about beer.
We get to the airport early - 3 hours before the flight is due. Just as well.
We couldn’t check in online so we go to a counter in the airport. The woman there asks if we have an eTA. Which is the Canadian form of ESTA. Great. First I've heard of it.
"You can apply for one online." she suggests, helpfully.
Off we go, Andrew logs into the site on Alexei's phone and we start filling in this complicated form. Andrew gets all through mine, and at the end gets an error: the starting date has to be greater than today's date. Wonderful.
I go back to the desk and ask what I should do: "Just put in tomorrow's date." Doing that, we’re able to submit our requests. Luckily they are approved immediately and we can check in. Disaster avoided.
I seemed to remember a food court at San Francisco airport. But maybe that’s in another bit. Our pier has pretty crappy food and drink options. So we give the next gate a try. That has a Gordon Biersch. Which will do.
I get a Märzen and a double Jack Daniels. “Why didn’t you just get a single?” Alexei asks. “I don’t do singles.” When it appears, it’s a suitably huge measure. A bucket almost.
Me and Andrew share pulled pork sliders, while Alexei has a turkey sandwich. With chips. I’m not really that hungry, but realise this will probably be my last chance to eat warm food today.
There’s free entertainment on the plane. So I watch some Canadian comedy series called Mohawk Girls. Not really sure what I make of it, but it passes the time.
The flight is OK, just late in the day. It arrives quite early, but then hangs around on the tarmac waiting for a gate, putting us a little late overall. Luckily, my bag comes out quickly.
The taxi fare is a fixed $31 Canadian. As it’s late, I only have twenties, I’m knacked as fuck and I don’t feel like fucking around, I give him $40. “The tip is too much”, he sportingly says. But he doesn’t give me anything back. Tipping etiquette is a nightmare. Especially when you swap between countries.
By the time we get to the hotel it’s 11:30. And Alexei really wants to go for a drink in a pub. There’s one close to the hotel, Backstage, that, according to the web is open until 2 AM. We get to it about midnight, but it’s pretty empty.
"We're just closing up, I'm afraid."
"Any chance of one quick beer?"
"I suppose so." Phew. Promise kept. Just.
The kids have some fruit cider abomination with a horrible pink colour. I have some sort of IPA. Then it’s back to the hotel, where we have a couple of beers and watch some shitty TV. No rush to get to bed, as breakfast isn’t included here.
I surrender to sleep without a whimper.
1202 Sutter St,
Tel: +1 415-885-3288
1101 Geary Blvd,
Tel: +1 415-775-4216
S Airport Blvd,
Tel: +1 650-827-6635
1585 Johnston St,
BC V6H 3R9.
Tel: +1 604-687-1354
News, nuggets and longreads 21 September 2019: Catalonia, cask, cans - Here’s a week’s worth of reading about beer and pubs, from Catalan hops to cask ale. For Birraire, Joan Villar-i-Martí has written at length about Jordi ...
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