Sleepless in San Francisco*


July 23rd, 2008

It’s always a bit hit or miss booking a hotel room from afar. And believe me, Bells Beach is pretty much a long way from anywhere! So that’s how I found myself at La Luna Inn (really!) in San Francisco. It’s on Lombard Street – and if that sounds familiar it’s because Lombard is famous for being the ‘twistiest street in the world’. That’s at the other end. Down my end there’s the Presidio – a huge park that I’m yet to explore – wide streets and lots of traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. My room – number 301 – had a view, sort of, of the Golden Gate Bridge. A bit like the views they advertise in Sydney of the Harbour Bridge. A glimpse. And then you have to crane your neck in an odd angle to see it. Closer still was the petrol (gas) station right opposite my window and the traffic that drove down Lombard shining their lights directly into my window. And then there were the cars coming from the other direction. That’s right – my room was on a corner. A main road going this way. And another going that way. Did I mention it was noisy? Noisy at Bells Beach is a frog croaking – 500 metres away. 

So I asked nicely for a room change. Not possible until today so I had to endure one night there. I felt 19 again, staying in the cheapest, and inevitably, noisiest, room, usually opposite the train station. Backpack propped in the corner which I’d have to leap over every time I wanted to get out to go to the shared bathroom down the corridor. That was then. This is many decades later.

Luckily I was jet lagged – and I had those squishy orange ear plugs. Sleep came pretty easily despite the NOISE. Then it was 4 am. That’s what time I usually wake when jet lagged. It was 9 pm at home so a good time to skype – and to check emails. And I just knew I would suffer if I didn’t get more sleep. So I gathered the squishy orange ear plugs from amongst the bed clothes and tried to get back to sleep. I was hot. Then cold. Got up again. Had a glass of water. I could still hear the traffic through the ear plugs. Maybe they weren’t in properly. Try again. Toss. Turn. Grumble. Where are all those trucks going at 4 am anyway?

It’s no good. Can’t sleep. Time for the heavy duty approach. It works on planes. Sennheiser noise reducing headphones. Tick. iPod shuffle. Tick. Ear plugs. Tick. Three hours later I wake. Ears sore from lying on the headphones, but it worked. So then I was ready to hit the pavement and walk to Union Square. But that’s another story.

* Sorry – my excuse is I’m still jet lagged!

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