Save Me, San Francisco

I’ve been back from San Francisco for a few weeks now, and I’m definitely missing a couple things.

1) Being on vacation
2) Being in California
3) Blogging every day
4) The Pacific Ocean
5) Hanging out at coffee shops

I’m going to stop there… I have a feeling this list could go on and on. I can’t wait to plan my next trip! But while I am still thinking about this one, I wanted to write down a few things that I didn’t get to do in San Francisco that are still on my list. After my time there two years ago, I wrote this post. Going back and reading it now, I’m happy to find that I did many of the things I had picked out. Here it is, with my current comments in black.

Things I want to do when I go back:

Go on an Alcatraz tour (Done!)

Visit Lombard Street (the crookedest street in the world) (I was lucky enough to have Rich drive me right down the street this time)

Explore Golden Gate Park, including the Japanese Tea Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Conservatory of Flowers (I drove through Golden Gate Park with Rich, but didn’t go into any more of these places. This will stay on my list for the future.)

Visit the Exploratorium (Not done yet, but they’ve just moved to a new location and I’m looking forward to visiting it sometime in the future)

Go to Sausalito – explore, go for a walk, have some lunch, and enjoy the sweet views of San Fran (Did not do this yet)

Go to a San Francisco Giants game… I hear the venue is incredible. (Did not do this yet, but toured the stadium – definitely beautiful. Going to a game here is certainly still on my list).

Things I would add to this list for my next San Francisco adventure:

Tour the TCHO chocolate factory.

Visit wine country!

Do a walking tour in Castro and Haight-Ashbury – if this is something you can do!

Look into We Players to see what kind of cool shows are happening.

Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum

And lastly, not something I haven’t done, but something I should do much more of – ride as many pedicabs as I can. They are the best! If you missed out on how much my friend KP and I love them, check her post about it out here.

I’m sure another San Franciscan adventure would result in even more new and exciting activities! I can’t wait to return.

Love KG

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Alcatraz, Azkaban… same thing, right?

Do any of you ever have to think twice about whether you are wanting to say “Alcatraz” or “Azkaban” in a conversation? No? Ok, well then. You obviously need to spend more time in the magical world of Harry Potter.

KP recapped our full day on Monday in her post I think it tastes like pickles… A travel story, but I was lucky enough to get the task of writing about our trip to Alcatraz. It was my first time visiting the island that is home to the most famous prison in the world (except for Azkaban, of course) and it was definitely a very cool experience.

As KP mentioned in her post, we did a drive by of Alcatraz on our way to our first stop at Angel Island. Alcatraz is such an iconic place. Cruising by it on the boat made for some amazing views.

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For those of you that don’t know much about Alcatraz Island, it has a very colourful history as a military fort, as a disciplinary barracks, as a maximum security prison, and as a site for a Native American occupation. During the California gold rush in the 1850’s, Alcatraz was built up as a military fort in order to protect the San Francisco Bay Area. Between Fort Point, Lime Point, and Fort Alcatraz, this area was totally protected, though Alcatraz was never really tested. At this time, the first lighthouse on the West coast was built on the island as well. The island quickly evolved into a place of detention in the 1860’s. At this time, prisoners arrested for treason during the Civil War were housed there.

After the San Francisco earth quake of 1906, military prisoners on the island built a new prison, which became a disciplinary barracks for the US Army. It was this new building that eventually became known as “The Rock”. The island was used by the military until 1933, when it was acquired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to build a maximum-security prison for housing the most difficult inmates from other prisons. This is the Alcatraz that has become famous today.

At Alcatraz, prisoners had rights to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else that they received was considered to be a privilege and not expected. Over the years, there were several escape attempts from Alcatraz, but it is not confirmed that any of them were successful. No man is known to have made it to land, but there are still 5 prisoners listed as “missing and presumed drowned”.

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Alcatraz shut down in 1963, and the island was essentially abandoned until 1969, when a group of Native Americans claimed it as “Indian Land”. They occupied the area for about 18 months, until they were removed by Federal Marshals. Though they were not able to keep Alcatraz, this did lead to the government returning some land to Native Americans across the country. In 1972, Alcatraz was included as part of the newly created Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Since then, it has become one of the most popular national parks in the USA. If you are interested in reading more about the history of Alcatraz, you can do so here.

Upon arriving on the island, we got a bit of an introduction by one of the park rangers, then we were turned loose. KP and I immediately walked up the hill to the cell block to do the audio tour included in any landing on Alcatraz Island. I have to say, the audio tour was amazingly well done. It included voices and stories from past Alcatraz inmates and guards, as well as all sorts of excellent background noises and ambiance. Not to mention, there were many displays with photos throughout the course of the tour. It was crazy to hear the voices of hardened criminals and be able to stare right into their faces as they were discussing their time at Alcatraz. It was also pretty surreal to be able to see the cells these men lived in, usually for years.

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The audio tour also detailed two different escape attempts, and we were able to look right into the cells where guards were killed, and right at the holes in the back of a couple cells, dug by inmates using spoons. We also got to see the tool that one man used to pry the bars apart during an attempt that became known as the Battle of Alcatraz. It was surreal to stand in the very place that all of these things happened.

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One of the most interesting things I learned during my time on Alcatraz was that the prison guards and their families actually lived right on the island. A woman who lived on Alcatraz as a child spoke on the audio tour and told the story of how she would take a boat to school on the mainland in the morning and return in the evening. She never even thought about the prisoners as they were locked away safely and didn’t make much noise.

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After the audio tour, we made our way down the hill toward the dock and found a lovely little hallway with a theatre and several exhibits off of it.

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Before long, we were ready to head back to the mainland to continue our day. Again, here is the post that details the rest of Monday, our last full day in San Francisco.

Love KG

We Made Hostel Friends!

Despite the fact that the attempt to bond with our first set of roommates was an epic fail, KP and I did end up coming out of the weekend with some hostel friends. Also, with some new information: Apparently getting drunk off a combination of wine and tequila does not, in fact, lead to a hangover – I know, I was shocked too.

While sitting around in the common area, drinking wine and blogging last night, we had a set of girls sit down to eat dinner at the rather large table we had taken over. Before long, a pair of guys came to sit with them, mentioning that they wanted to sit with their roommates. KP and I were overtaken with jealousy as we saw the relationship we had tried so hard to create for ourselves earlier in our adventures flourishing right before our eyes. It was a beautiful thing.

We started to join in the conversation with the group as they were just too infectiously hilarious and awesome not to. Before long, we felt the need to tell them about our previous roommate fail, and ask if they felt that we had maybe come on too strong. “Are you kidding? We would have dropped everything to come and meet you!” was the immediate response from one of the guys, followed closely by “Please continue to do this wherever you stay in the future – seriously! It would probably work 99% of the time”. And thus, the ice was broken.

We continued to hang out downstairs, drinking the magical “delicately bubbled” wine I blogged about the other day and the tequila the boys had provided, all the while laughing and learning about each of our different home countries and cultures. The girls were from Switzerland, the boys from Australia, and of course, KP and I are from Canada. It was quite the group and we had many topics to compare between each of our countries. This was exactly the type of experience I was looking forward to having during my first time staying at a hostel.

The rest of the night was spent getting to know each other and dancing the night away at a bar that was playing Motown music. It was the perfect way to end off my time in San Francisco.

This morning, we left our new friends this note:

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So, to Ivan, Kevin, Isabelle, and Marisa of room 311 – if you are reading this, thank you! You are all amazing people and KP & I are very glad you sat down at our table last night. Good luck in all your future adventures in San Francisco and elsewhere – let us know if you ever make your way to Alberta! We will definitely drop each of you a blog post (that’s right, no other form of communication is more appropriate) if we are ever in your area. Don’t expect any prior notice – it will only include our plans for the evening and a map of how to get there 🙂

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Love KG

“Why are people stopping? Oh, churros! That’s allowed.”

The event coordinator in me really feels the need to write this post. The other night, KP and I went to a ball game in Oakland, which you can read about here. This post is not about the game itself, but about the trip home. Or rather, the walk out of the stadium onto the BART train. I know this sounds like a weird thing to write an entire blog post about, but I swear it was just so darn impressive.

When the post-game fireworks show ended, I was dreading the trek out of the building and onto the train. There was only one relatively narrow pedway across to the train station, and I had horrible visions of how long it would take to get everyone across it. The visions worsened when we realized that they had blocked off the pedway and several hundred people were congregated outside the gate, waiting to be let through. I imagined the pushing, shoving, trampling, and waiting that would ensue once the gate was open. I thought about the fact that most BART stations only have a couple ticket machines, and only a few narrow gates to go through individually with your ticket. I tried to figure out how many trains would pass by before we would finally get on one. Friends, all these worries were completely unfounded, and I’m still not entirely sure how.

When the pedway opened, people moved steadily through it, with a select few stopping to buy from the churro vendors on either side of the walkway. We barely stopped moving the entire way across, down the stairs, through the BART gates, up the escalator, and onto the waiting train. How did this happen? It seemed everyone had prepurchased their return tickets on the BART (we did too), which removed the issue about the ticket machines, but the rest of it was just impressive. I think they must have timed the opening of the gate on the pedway with when trains would be in the station. Likely they also had increased train frequency during this time, and maybe added cars to any trains already running.

I’m not entirely sure on all the details, but I needed to write this post to express my admiration. The little things like thinking through a guest’s experience when leaving an event can have the greatest impact on how they will remember their night. I will forever remember how painless that trip back to the train was, especially compared to where my expectations were sitting. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything as efficient as how that crowd was handled. Well done, BART.

Love KG

The day that we went to the Best Place Ever, did the Best Thing Ever, and listened to the Best Song Ever

Ok, so a bit of the title is a lie. We did not actually listen to the Best Song Ever yesterday (aka Best Song Ever by One Direction), but we did do those other things! This was an absolutely great day in San Francisco.

KP and I “slept in”. For the two of us, that means she was up around 8 AM and I was awake by 9:15 and getting ready for the day. Obviously we were exhausted by the craziness of the night before, which KP has recapped for you here.

I had unfortunately dropped the ball and not pre-purchased tickets to tour AT&T Park, so I spent some time attempting to purchase online. A note to Canadian buyers – the online system will not let you purchase due to our alphanumeric postal code. Also, tickets can only be purchased by phone 24 hours in advance. Long story short, once we were ready KP and I headed to the Giants Dugout Store to attempt to purchase tickets that way. We figured if none were available, we would at least take a few pictures outside the park and then continue along the waterfront.

When we arrived at the store, we were excited to learn that tickets were still available – hooray! We were plenty early, so we purchased two tickets and then went to find a coffee shop to hang out at for an hour or so. Coffee shops that were open in this area were hard to come by, but we did stumble upon Town’s End Restaurant and Bakery where we shared a breakfast. It was actually second breakfast as we had hit up first breakfast at our hostel before leaving, but we knew that between the tour and then finding the clam chowder we were craving, we would not be having lunch anytime soon. I would definitely come back here as the food was delicious and the staff very friendly.

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Before long, it was time to head back to AT&T Park for our tour. It is a lovely building, even from the outside.

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Within minutes of the start of our tour, KP and I had decided that this stadium was the Best Place Ever. For those of you who don’t know, AT&T Park is the baseball stadium that the San Francisco Giants play out of and it sits right on the water in downtown San Francisco. It is one of the most beautiful venues in professional sport. Our guide, Dan, actually turned out to be a pretty important guy. Apparently they were busy and short-staffed that day, so though his usual job is coordinating the operations of the stadium, he was called in to tour us around. Despite his warnings that he does not normally do tours, he was a great guide. He was able to share all sorts of fun facts and definitely brought us almost everywhere we could want to go (except for the Giants Clubhouse – apparently that is not allowed while in season due to privacy concerns and MLB regulations). Here is a picture of Dan, so you have a good picture of him in your head.

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Dan started off with a bit of an overview of the stadium and how it came to be. AT&T Park is the only privately owned major sports facility in the US, and it got this way due to the fact that the city was refusing to build a new stadium for the Giants, and the team was looking at relocating because of this. Now, AT&T Park is owned by Giants Enterprises, which is a collection of individuals who came together to fund the building. Dan made the comment that you can never get anything built with the city involved, especially stadiums. Being from Edmonton, I definitely had to agree – our downtown stadium drama has been going on for years! Due to the fact that this venue is privately owned, they actually host a ton of other events throughout the year and have a large staff team taking care of everything to do with the building. Event coordinator at AT&T Park? Hello new dream job!

Dan started the viewing of the facility at the top of the stadium and we worked our way down. Some of the greatest views are definitely from way up in the cheapest seats.

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We went through all levels of seating and took photos of the park at far too may angles, as you can see. This sure is a far cry from the Coliseum in Oakland, which KP wrote about here.

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We even got to see inside a suite! This one belongs to Tony Bennett. He apparently uses it when he is in town, but it can also be rented out for $7,000 to $12,000 per game. Dan said that this is his favourite suite, though it is the smallest. It looks right over the water as well as the game

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We also got to go inside the Visiting Team’s Clubhouse. The room itself was nice, and also included an office for the team’s General Manager, which KP posed inside, as well as a kitchen with an executive chef. Dan pointed out the Atlanta Braves clock on the wall and mentioned that there were many other items throughout the Clubhouse that had all been gifts from other teams in the league over the years.

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But the very best part of the entire tour was that we got to go right down onto the field. Dan warned us against stepping on the grass, but we had free reign on the shale and in the dugouts. We took A LOT of pictures.

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Dan was very serious about not stepping on the grass, but look, what rebels! Our shadows are on the grass!

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After an hour and a half of magical time spent touring the Best Place Ever, we wandered into the Giants store. I really wanted an AT&T Park souvenir, but I didn’t want it to be Giants-related. Why is this so irrational? Sadly, I did not find anything – but I’ll always have the memories.

We next headed toward Fisherman’s Wharf, which was a bit of a trek from the pier we were at. We decided this was finally the time. We had been admiring and discussing the rickshaws that were zipping up and down the waterfront, pulled by men on pedal bikes, and this would be our chance to ride one. This was, if you haven’t guessed it, the Best Thing Ever. I won’t go into detail here, as KP has outlined everything for you in her post Walking is for Chumps. Long story short, we loved it.

Our fabulous rickshaw (or pedicab, as they refer to themselves) driver left us at Pier 39 and we walked the rest of the way to Tarantino’s, a restaurant that Rich had recommended to me as having the best clam chowder in a bread bowl. I just love having a local contact that can point me in the right direction to the best meals and places to visit! I had the clam chowder, of course. KP opted for the calamari steak. Both our meals were perfect, and they came with a lovely view!

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Next we walked over to the Musee Mecanique, which was another recommendation of Rich’s. It is a building right on the pier that is free to access. Inside, there are hundreds of antique arcade games that you can play for a nickel, dime, or quarter. We wandered around, spending all the change we had.

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After spending all of our money there, we continued our walk through Fisherman’s Wharf to Hyde Street Pier, purchasing a few souvenirs along the way. We found a store with giant candy, which was awesome.

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We both sunk our feet into the sand and enjoyed the view of the water when we arrived at the base of Hyde Street.

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Next we went up to the Black Point Cafe, which I had stopped in at earlier in our trip, and spent some time drinking coffee and hanging out. This cafe is very trendy and has a great atmosphere inside. It is located right across the street from Ghirardelli Square, mere minutes fro Hyde Street Pier on foot.

Once we were done there, we went back to the hostel – KP is covering the story of our journey home in her post as well. We were both pretty tired by the time we arrived back and spent our evening drinking wine and blogging – or drunk blogging, as we like to call it. We bought this lovely bottle of wine across the street without reading the fine print and noticing that it was “Delicately Bubbled”, so the first sip I had was absolutely magical.

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We had an early night due to the fact that we were exhausted and also to the fact that the next morning would be an early one. It was a rough day, going to the Best Place Ever and doing the Best Thing Ever. It can sure suck the energy out of you!

Love KG

A Tour of Countercultures

Yesterday morning, we woke up early to the banging, clattering, and knocking of our roommates. I’m not really sure what was going on as KP swears that at one point there were about 5 people in our room, while we were still both in bed. If our roommates had come to see us the night before, I’m sure we would have both just hopped up and said good morning, but I’m not quite sure KP will ever recover from the heartbreak of them not showing up. When we did finally chat with the two girls who are our roommates, we did not do introductions, nor did they mention our adorable and slightly ridiculous message to them. I guess we just are not meant to be friends! Anyhow, we both need to figure out how to move on with our lives. I am going to try to do so by continuing on with this post about our day, despite the rejection I have so recently experienced.

KP did a post with a bunch of information about out hostel already here, but I just wanted to quickly comment on a couple things since this is my first ever hostel experience. This place is nice, and I have felt totally safe staying here so far. We have lockers to lock away valuables and our room has a key card to unlock the door. You also need to show said key card to even get access to the building. When I thought about hostels, I never considered that they would be this secure. Also, it’s a lot of fun as there is an amazing common area to hang out in and lots of planned activities to take part in. I would definitely continue to stay in hostels for my future travelling. Honestly, staying in a hostel feels quite a bit like my first few weeks living in residence at the University of Alberta.

KP and I got ready for the day and went downstairs for the breakfast our hostel provides. It wasn’t anything crazy – just some toast, coffee, and oatmeal – but it was a good way to start the day. We then headed out to wander the streets of San Francisco and see some of the historic neighbourhoods.

During our walk to Castro, we may not have taken the most desirable of routes. In fact, I think we may have walked through all of the least desirable parts of the city. Luckily, it was the middle of the day and though we saw many sketchy characters, there were always lots of other people around.

For those of you that don’t know, Castro was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in the US. Many gay officers from the military that were kicked out during WWII settled in Castro, and that was how this area got its start. Today Castro is an area full of scandalously titled stores and restaurants as well as, oddly, a large number of stores for dogs. Castro is a center for the gay community in San Francisco, and many people, tourists and gays alike, enjoy making their way to this iconic neighbourhood. You can read more about Castro here if you are interested. It has a very long and interesting history.

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While in Castro, we could see a few walking tours were happening and KP and I would try to meander slowly past them to try to sponge any information we could about the area, though I can’t say it was very effective. After walking down the street and back, we stopped at Hot Cookie for a snack – our Snickerdoodles were the absolute best.

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Next we began the walk to Haight-Ashbury, which is known as a center of the 1960’s hippie movement. You can read more about the history of this area here. Today it is a mix of trendy stores, grungy cafes, hippies, hipsters, and the homeless. These last few lead to a rousing game of “Homeless or Hippie?”, a game KP and I created ourselves. For more information on this game and instructions on how to play, please see KP’s in-depth post, Homeless or Hippie: A Game for All Occasions. We wandered up and down the street as we played, until we got our fill.

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We began the walk back toward the hostel to have some down time, and along the way I realized that we could take a route that would go right to Alamo Square, which is the park from the beginning credits on the beloved family classic TV show Full House. San Francisco’s Painted Lady Houses are the most recognizable sight to see in this area.

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Once we had done our fair share of hanging out in the park, it was time to continue the trek back to the hostel. Luckily, we strategically planned our route in order to avoid the sketchy areas we went through earlier in the day, so it was a much more enjoyable walk. Here is the map of our entire route – we went far!

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We arrived back at the hostel and feasted on our groceries, then had a bit of downtime before our evening activities began, which KP has posted for you in We’re currently in Oakland… thinking of going to San Jose later…. I have to say that wandering through the neighbourhoods of San Francisco made for a very interesting day and definitely helped us to get a feel for the entire city.

Love KG

The Beer Olympics

I’m picking up the story right now for yesterday evening. KP has posted our daytime activity post here, so be sure to check that out if you aren’t up to date. We decided that something as awesome and epic as The Beer Olympics (that’s right, the capital letters are absolutely necessary) deserves its very own post.

My story begins on the stairs next to the bar that was hosting The Beer Olympics. After finding our way there, we realized we were much too early for registration, so KP and I decided to sit on the sidewalk made of stairs on the next street over. Anyone who knows KP’s travelling style knows that sitting on any kind of stairs is one of her favourite pastimes – I couldn’t deny her the opportunity! We climbed up the stairs high enough to get a view and settled in to wait anxiously with the hope that our unknown roommates would arrive. You can read more about our invitation to them here, if you have not been keeping up.

We had almost an hour to kill sitting on the stairs, and during that time we made friends with a skateboarder named Nate. He was taking a nap on the stairs on the other side of the street when we sat down. After awhile, he used the icebreaker of asking for a cigarette (which neither of us could provide) and ended up coming over to chat with us. He told us a bit about himself – he is in his early 20’s and lives in San Francisco. He was pretty intoxicated, and he used a lot of typical surfer lingo, which makes sense since he apparently grew up on the beach. He was fascinated by the fact that we were from Canada and shared a bunch of tips for great local spots to hit up while in San Francisco. We shared the story of our roommate invitation with Nate and he thought it was pretty much the greatest thing he had ever heard, so I guess we weren’t too over the top, at least to his tastes. We bid Nate goodbye when it was time to go inside and register for The Beer Olympics, but chatting with him was an enjoyable way to pass some time.

While in line in front of the bar, KP and I met a couple fellows. One of them, Greg, ended up on our team for The Beer Olympics. I never did catch the name of the other guy, but he was from Toronto, so I guess that’s as good a game to give him as anything. After registration, we moved in to the competition room and hung out with these boys for awhile.

Greg was from Houston, and after talking to him for a fair amount of time and doing some prodding for information, he told KP and I that he works for NASA! We refused to believe him and asked for proof. He pulled out a few impressive looking photos and I asked how we could possibly know that these weren’t just photos from some awesome science center that makes people look cool. After talking to him much more over the course of the night, I think that I actually do believe him – I mean, a line like that is just too unbelievable to actually lie about, and he seemed so sincere with all of his answers. So basically, we may or may not have made a friend who works for NASA – Cool, right?

Conversation about NASA lead to discussion about one of Canada’s national heroes, Commander Hadfield and his Twitter feed. KP and Greg got into a huge discussion about him, with Greg refusing to believe how much Canadians love him, so he turned to Toronto, who was lost in another conversation, and just said two words – “Commander Hadfield?” – to which Toronto immediately replied “That guy is like a rock star in Canada!”. So there, point proven. This line of conversation eventually lead to probably my favourite moment of the night, when Toronto got all of our attention and asked, so seriously:

“I only have one question – how does he tweet from space?”

It was as though a lightbulb came on in all of our heads right at that moment as we all tried to figure out how that was even possible. Greg cleared it up for us by explaining a bit about the availability of internet on space ships, which is apparently quite limited but it is there nonetheless.

Not long after this conversation, we all started gathering at our team meeting points. As I mentioned previously, Greg ended up on our team for the event, and KP and I met two adorable little blonde British girls that were placed on our team as well. Becca and Natalie were on their first stop of 3 months of travelling North America and Australia – I am beyond jealous. Here is a team photo!

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Before starting the event, KP and I made the acquaintance of a couple more young men – Joe and Tanner. They both lived in San Francisco and for some reason thought KP and I being from Canada was just the most entertaining thing they had ever heard. Their immediate association with someone being from Canada and participating in the Olympics (as in, the Beer Olympics) was apparently curling, so we got into a long and confusing discussion trying to explain the rules of the game and the roles of the different team members. Before we knew it, it was time to get started with the first round of competition, so Joe and Tanner headed off to join their team, but promised to come back to talk to us later.

And now we’re up to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: DUH DUH DUH…. THE BEER OLYMPICS!! I have to say, whether you are from San Francisco, or just visiting, I highly recommend this event that happens every Friday night. It was just such a blast.

We played four different games – Flip Cup, Beer Bingo, Beer Paper Scissors, and Beer Pong. The rules of each game were relatively simple, but I’ve outlined them below for you.

Flip Cup
Each player starts with a cup, filled about an inch full of beer. Each team is lined up on opposite sides of the table, facing each other. The teams decide which end to start at, and the lead member for each team chugs their beer, then sets the cup on the table and proceeds to flip it from right side up to upside down with a flick. Once they do that, the next person in line can drink their beer and follow the same process. The first team to go through their whole line up wins. We went to best out of 5 games.

Beer Bingo
Each team fills 16 cups with about an inch of beer each and arranges them in a 4×4 square. Teams take turns attempting to shoot a ping pong ball into a cup, rotating their shooter each time. If you hit a cup, your opponent needs to drink that cup and flip it upside down. The first team to get 4 cups in a row flipped over – vertical, horizontal, or diagonal – wins. This game was best of 1.

Beer Paper Scissors
This was probably the dumbest game we played. The table was set up like in beer bingo and one member of each team played Rock Paper Scissors against each other. The winner stayed to face the next opponent, and the loser had to drink a beer and rotate with a teammate. The team that drank all their beer first lost. This was also best of 1 game.

Beer Pong
This was a very dumbed-down version of 6 cup beer pong. 6 cups were filled partway with beer and set up in a triangle on each side of the table. Teams took turns attempting to shoot a ping pong ball into one of the cups, rotating their shooter on each turn. There was no defence, no bouncing, no rollbacks, and a reform every time the cup was hit (for those of you who are beer pong aficionados). The first team to hit all of their opponent’s cups was the winner. This game was also best of 1.

At the end of the 4 rounds, the teams that were undefeated entered into playoffs for the championship. This, sadly, was not us. We held our own with a respectable 2-2 record, winning at Beer Pong and Beer Bingo, and suffering tough losses at Flip Cup and Beer Paper Scissors. For a team with 4 times more females than any of the others, two of which had never played Beer Pong before, I think we did alright. And it was actually a ton of fun, so that is really what mattered.

After the official competition was over, Joe and Tanner came back to chat, and KP, Greg, and I ended up playing some additional games of beer pong – Canadian Rules – with Joe. At some point during this game, KP got into a discussion that resulted in her besting all the Americans with her knowledge of state capitals. That’s my nerdy roommate! Everyone at the table was definitely impressed.

The bar closed down at around 12:30 AM – so early! Joe and Tanner wanted to head to this salsa and cigar bar nearby, so the rest of us just went with the flow, though none of us knew how to salsa and smoking cigars is not something KP and I enjoy doing. During the walk, KP got a proposition from a bunch of strippers to join their ranks and become one of them – not sure how I totally missed seeing this happen. Luckily, she turned down their offer to teach her all they knew.

We had a great time having a few drinks at this random place at which Joe just seemed to know everyone. The most eventful thing to happen there was that KP and I found out that hi-balls don’t exist here. Apparently in the USA, a hi-ball is a certain type of glass. Joe had the bartender pull one out, and it certainly is not the glass any of our hi-balls would be served in. Who knew!

Now, as many of you may have noticed, I have not made any mention of the roommates we were hoping to welcome and bond with. They sadly did not show up. HOW COULD THEY NOT, I ASK YOU? KP and I were both a little heartbroken over this, but I’m glad we had a good night regardless. At the salsa bar, we told all our new friends the story about our botched roommate welcome, and they were pretty impressed with our whole blog post. I have to say, despite the fact that it didn’t work this time, I will do it again the next time I’m hosteling somewhere.

Around 1:30 AM, this bar closed down too, so we started our walk home. People went their separate ways along the way, but Tanner walked us right to the door of our hostel – I think he was a little concerned about two clueless Canadian girls alone in the city at night! We would have been fine as the route was quiet, but it was definitely nice to have the company.

Along the way, KP and I got into an argument with Tanner about a ferry that he was claiming to have ridden in Canada while he lived in Montana. We were sure there was no reason he would have ridden a ferry around Nelson, BC, but it turns out we were totally wrong. There is such a thing. We sure looked like some oblivious Canadians!

When we finally got inside and went to our room, the roommates we had wanted to meet so badly were in bed already. So not impressed. Regardless, we had a good night without them and The Beer Olympics were definitely a great choice. We made a couple friends and had a lot of fun (and spent very very little money). The evening was an all around win. We had a great time with the group we ended up hanging out with, but didn’t even exchange contact information with the majority of them. I find it so interesting that we all really enjoyed each other’s company but that we will likely never cross paths again. That’s travelling, I suppose!

Love KG