So I find myself awake once again at 5:30am, tappity tapping into my beloved mac book pro on the penultimate day of our trip. Yesterday we got up, packed everything, gave the RV one final paranoid clean and drove it to the El Monte depot in Dublin, California. It was sad to see "Minnie" go, into the parking lot of large, white box like vehicles but part we must (as the late fees were astronomical). The staff at the Dublin depot were surprisingly teutonic, but after reading the blow-up newspaper article on their show room wall, you can understand why. Back in the late 80s and 90s, sales of RVs were dwindling in the States, but the market was kept buoyant by the rentals and specifically El Monte (whom, in this article, had been singled out for praise by Winnebago, the name synomynous with US Motorhomes) who had concentrated on securing deals with European Travel agents to promote their services on the older side of the pond. And it looks like that decision is still reaping rewards. Our fellow "returnees" were all European: mostly German, one Dutch couple and us. The staff who checked our vehicles back in were also German, I also noted that the paperwork could be supplied in different languages if required by renters.
On the whole, our experience of renting an RV in the States has been a good one and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending El Monte to anyone. Given the opportunity to bore you with caveats, I would point out that needlessly noting any damage at all at the point of pick-up is always worth while (not that this was an issue at the return, but it's still good advice).
Anyway, the driving portion of our trip is over - a total mileage of 3,203 miles covered in just under three weeks - a quite impressive feat from someone who's home country is only 837 miles; that's just under driving from Lands End to John O' Groats (do I need to state that I do get that these landmarks are neither the most northern nor the most southern points on the UK Mainland? No? Good) and back again twice. I'm not to sure why you'd want to do that, but still.
We were rapidly chauffeured into San Francisco by another European El Monte employee, this time from Bulgaria, into our final destination - San Francisco. We're staying at the Hotel Adagio on Geary Street in Downtown SF. The room is pretty spacious, clean and beautifully decorated. The staff have been friendly and helpful and from our 12 floor vantage point we can pretty nice views of the city. A great choice of last port of call for us.
For lunch, we walked a couple of blocks to Max's, which can be described as a posh diner, if you will. I ordered the cheeseburger and Miko had a chicken steak sandwich and both were delicious and ample in size. Service was on the slow side but very friendly and, to be honest, we weren't in any rush. It was nice to see San Francisco's Bomb Squad also having a late lunch in there - after all, if they've got time to eat then the city is not in any immediate danger. Key lime pie was ordered to go and we slowly walked back up the hill to have an afternoon nap on our huge king sized bed. Lunch with tip was $55.
For dinner we opted to try somewhere Chinatown but we were late (by US standards) - 9pm - for dinner and by the time we'd taken the trolly, Chinatown was mostly closed, however, the restaurant we'd chosen - Chef Jia's - was just still open (they were sweeping up, but beckoned us in). Chef Jia's is a no frills restaurant: it's overly lit, has utilitarian serving dishes and cheap plates, offers no decor or delight at all in it's surroundings apart from a wall of reviews and accolades, praising its food. We ordered 5 spice duck (me), sesame chicken (miko), vegetable fried rice and broccoli in garlic sauce, accompanied with chinese tea. The food was tasty, fresh (ample, of course) and simple affair and initially the meat courses came across as slightly over seasoned, but as we chowed down we forgave and forgot this. The service was brisk and informative. The star of the choices was the broccoli, which was crisp and very flavoursome. I polished off the very fatty half duck that was coarsely cut up into bony chunks (and that's probably why I'm awake now) but our tummies were happy with the cuisine. A great find. Dinner was $50 (tip incl).
Today should see us do a bit of shopping (we also popped into Macy's for an extra bag for the flight home - now to fill it!) as I need new trainers, T shirts and socks and I hope we can catch DF Tram DJing at the Minna Street Gallery tonight. Then it's a leisurely day tomorrow before catching the BA flight to Heathrow at 18:50.
Bring on Blighty. :)