Day 1: Sunday, February 17

San Francisco, California – February 17-21, 2008

San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the world to visit. I had only been there once before in 1995, so a revisit was long overdue. In the winter of 2008 I had a short break between jobs, so I booked a discount flight/hotel package through The package was not ideal but it got me into San Francisco for a four-night stay at a reasonable price. The visit was too much of a whirlwind to properly appreciate San Francisco and most of the trip was taken up with travel problems, but at least I had a short opportunity to reconnect with this magical city.

The Journey Begins

TERRIBLE weather here today in Toronto… big storm on its way… lots of heavy rain, freezing rain and winds…. UH OH…..

Vince accompanied me to the Delta Chelsea Hotel to catch the 1:25 p.m. Airport Express bus to Pearson International. My flight was on American Airlines (Eagle) #4069 scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. (EST) departure with a connector (American Airlines #1561) in Chicago at 6:35 p.m. (CST).

I got checked in, cleared U.S. customs and security OK but the weather was really bad and flights were seriously delayed; no plane anywhere in sight. My plane finally arrived around 6:00 p.m. We boarded, pushed back, but then sat on the runway until after 7:00 p.m., waiting for takeoff clearance. Once in the air it was a very bumpy flight out of Toronto and into Chicago.

We finally arrived in Chicago. Luckily, my connecting flight was also seriously delayed so I did not miss my connection to San Francisco (this plane was the last flight to SFO that day). On the Toronto-Chicago flight I met a Friendly San Francisco Woman who had been attending a conference in Toronto and was returning to her home in the Bay area. We had a late, over-priced “dinner” (banana, sandwich & water) together at Chicago airport.

Our flight departed Chicago at about 9:00 p.m. (CST) and arrived in San Francisco at about 11:00 p.m. (PST). I ran into Friendly San Francisco Woman again just after deplaning and we chatted while waiting for our baggage to tumble down. After the bags arrived I parted company with Friendly San Francisco Woman and found the designated spot outside the terminal for the Lorrie’s Shuttle pickup which was to take me to the Grant Hotel at 753 Bush Street. I met Friendly San Francisco Woman again(!!) outside the airport terminal; she was waiting for her shuttle to the Park n’ Fly area. As the flight to San Francisco had been delayed the prearranged van from Lorrie’s Shuttle was not waiting to pick me up, but it eventually did arrive. While waiting, I made friends with a very pleasant and friendly elderly British couple also waiting for Lorrie’s Shuttle. They were traveling the world (having just arrived from Singapore) as part of a Christmas gift from their kids. I rode the shuttle bus in to San Francisco with The Friendly Brits.

Lorrie’s Shuttle dropped me at the Grant Hotel and I was checked in by what was most likely the rudest, most unsociable, hostile and obnoxious Asian man I have ever come across in my life… what a major turnoff. If it had not been so late and I so tired, I would have found another hotel, but the room was already prepaid via so I checked in and was given Room #417.

The Grant Hotel, 753 Bush St. (between Mason & Powell)

My room was at the very back of the hotel so it was extremely quiet, if nothing else. There was a strange smell in the hotel and in the room but I eventually got used to it. The room had seen better days, but hey… it was a 2-star hotel and priced accordingly, so….

I called Vince to let him know I’d arrived in one piece. Unpacked and fell into bed at about 12:30 a.m. (EST) after a very long and gruelling day of travelling.

(Click here if you’d like to read my TripAdvisor review of the Grant Hotel)

– End of Day 1 –

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