In just under a month's time, I shall be going on holiday to New York and San Francisco - my first ever visit to the States and a much-needed break after what's been a hugely enjoyable but knackering first few months in the new job. I'm stopping off in New York first to visit my friend Erika, who's a native Californian, but is currently studying midwifery at Columbia. It'll be almost exactly two years since I last saw her here in Brighton, so there's going to be a lot of catching up, and undoubtedly a fair few cocktails, on the cards. Meanwhile, Ant will be over in Vegas, wearing his BBC hat at the NAB conference by day, and no doubt living out the Rat Pack/Gangster movie fantasy after dark. We'll meet up in San Francisco for the proper holiday bit - starting out in Marin County for a quiet few days of walking and whale watching (hopefully) before heading down into the city to wear flowers in our hair (metaphorically speaking of course).
Ever in pursuit of the perfect place to stay, we faffed and procrastinated over accommodation until it was getting worryingly late in the day. We've often stayed in hostels on European city breaks, but even those with private rooms generally lack the intimacy one desires on an extended 'romantic' break, and hotels in SF are - with current exchange rates especially - prohibitively expensive. We looked on Craigslist for self-catering apartments, but even those were on the steep side. I quite fancied the idea of bombing around the Bay Area in a retro campervan but soon discovered we'd have difficulty finding somewhere legal to park it in town. Then I came across a really cool website, AirBnB.com, which matches people's spare rooms with travellers looking for lodgings - and sounded like the perfect solution to our problem. Briefly tempted by one apartment listed as '4600 Square Foot of Rad', we eventually went for a more sensible sounding room offered by a couple of a similar age in a desirable area between Mission and Noe Valley. It not only saves us money, but will hopefully be a much more personal and enlightening experience than any hotel or B&B could offer.
Now that the flights, accommodation and car hire are sorted (phew), all that remains is to plan some adventures for the trip. Ant is already mapping out all the recommended coffee bars in the city (he spends most holidays high as a kite on caffeine), while I am highlighting vintage clothes shops and record stores. We're unlikely to do any of the famous touristy attractions (read my post about Venice if you need to know why not) but are definitely open to suggestions from those with local knowledge; preferably for activities of either the edible or photogenic variety (or both).
Photograph of American Flag cupcakes by Ginnerobot on Flickr (Creative Commons Licence).