There are two airlines which fly direct to San Francisco from Beijing – Air China, and United Airlines. Having flown several times with the former, I decided to try the latter. US airlines do not always get the best reviews, but actually, from booking all the way through to flying with them, I found them decent. Their Twitter account was very useful when I checked a couple of things with them, and they responded quickly. On-board, the selection of films was also quite substantial. The plane left Beijing on time and landed early in San Francisco, perhaps as early as half an hour (I cannot remember exactly how early). Customs and security check were also quite quick, and I went through to arrivals to wait for my parents, who were flying in from London to meet me. They landed early too, but their flight was due to land about an hour after mine. It took them longer to clear security, however, and after about an hour after they had landed, they finally arrived with their luggage. It was probably about mid-afternoon then, and we were pretty tired.
Going up the escalator to the Bart train (Bart stands for Bay Area Rapid Transport – it is the train you take to get into the centre of the city) I lost my travel pillow. It was clipped to my bag, but was somewhat cumbersome as well, and it fell down the side of the escalator, into the abyss…
The train journey itself was uneventful, and, in the centre of San Francisco, where we disembarked, there was free wifi, which made navigating to the bus stop easier. I found a mall to use the bathroom, and then we headed to the bus stop. The buses in the city only accept exact change, and the fare was $2.75 for adults. We roughly had an idea of where to get off, and the driver kindly told us when we got there. It being around rush hour time, the bus was busy and whilst mum and dad got to sit down, going up and down the steep hills, I had to stand and hold on for dear life or I would have probably slide all through the bus and out the front window!
From the bus stop, the motel we were staying in, a retro ’50s style, was only a couple of streets walk; not very far at all. After checking in, we dumped our stuff and then went to find something for me to eat (my parents had eaten a lot on the plane and were not really very hungry). By now it was dark and about 19:00 or a little later. We found a nearby supermarket, and I got a sandwich. We headed back to the room, I ate my food and we settled in for the night.