Now it was time to visit Haight-Ashbury (which I first got to know through Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas where the hero finds himself in the hippie neighborhood ‘Hashbury’). It had come very highly recommended by my friend Einar so we thought we’d give it a try. That meant taking the bus as it’s a bit off to the side. When we got off, you could immediately tell that we were in the right place. Haight-Ashbury certainly looks the part with a lot of rainbow-colored signs and laid back weirdos all over the place.
As we walked down Haight Street we saw a lot of hilarious anti-Bush propaganda and we finally stepped into one of the shops full with funny t-shirts. I found one I really liked, but since it only came as a girls shirt Jonna bought it instead (the print was ‘Jesus is coming – look busy!’). We walked on and found an optician, and since I was running out of my one-day contacts I thought I’d buy some more. Turns out though that you can’t buy contacts in the U.S. without a prescription, it’s against the law, sigh… I hadn’t counted on using the contacts as often as I have but since it’s mostly sunny here it’s nice to have them so that I can wear sunglasses when driving. The four remaining ones I had would have to do.
When you come to the end of Haight Street there’s Golden Gate State Park on the other side. We had planned to see it too so we crossed over into it. I wasn’t that impressed to begin with though, and it didn’t look like it was getting better either. It has a lot of roads running through it where regular traffic can go, which I found a bit weird. To me a park is a place where you don’t have traffic, that’s almost the point of it, Ah well, it actually did get a bit better and we paused in the grass to eat some grapes. All around us sprinklers were continuously fighting to keep the park green, it really is dry in southern California. After some more walking we finally found the Japanese Tea Garden, according to a leaflet we got; ‘the birthplace of the fortune cookie’. It was $4 admission but I think it was worth it, they had some beautiful ponds and the traditional dwarfed bonsais. Also a really cool bridge that you have to climb to go over, a Zen garden and a couple of those wooden pillars with a many-layered roof on.
Afterwards we walked through an utterly boring rose garden and then decided to take the bus home. We had planned to visit Castro as well; supposedly the most gay neighborhood in town but it was too far off by now. We also had to do laundry so we needed to get home early.
We got directions to a place called ‘Brainwash’ from the motel manager and we set off to find it. It wasn’t as easy as we thought but when we’d almost given up we walked by a café that happened to have a laundry sign as well. Happy as pigs in mud we walked in and found out that this actually was Brainwash. It was a really nice place that had a bar and everything so you didn’t have to get bored when doing your laundry. Tonight also turned out to be ‘Open Mic Night’ and we got to hear a bunch of the local crop of comedians. We were a bit surprised to learn that this was actually the way most Americans do laundry, having your own washing machine was almost unheard of. Seems like a lot of work to me.