18th June 2018
Had an ok sleep, woke several times, but forced myself to go back to sleep to try and combat the jet lag.
Am up at 6.30 having decided to give up trying to stay asleep. Once I’m ready I make my way down to breakfast and checkout.
I ask at reception about getting to San Francisco airport… the bike is over there… the nearest BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station is called Coliseum and I can get the BART all the way to SF airport, but how do I get there? The hotel says the shuttle bus will take me, he will be outside in 15 minutes… oh cool.
Good as their word the bus arrives and takes me to the BART.
It’s $10 to go all the way to SF airport with one change of train. It’s very good and I arrive at the airport for 9am. I then need to walk to United Cargo about 15 minutes away.
And here it is…
I hand over all my paperwork to a 13 year old behind the counter… he disappears and comes back saying there’s no customs forms. I explain that I have been told to get some papers from them and then I have to go to customs to get the bike cleared and then come back to them so they can release the bike to me. Spotty oik then disappears again.. a few minutes later a large man, obviously a supervisor, comes out and asks if I am self clearing so I say yes. He then proceeds to sort out the papers for me. He starts to give me directions to customs explaining that if I drive… hold on I’m not driving, I’m walking… oh, he says, it’ll be about half an hour to walk… that’s fine, I could do with the exercise. He obviously thinks I’m mad.. after all, no one walks in America.
So off I trot.. it is actually getting quite warm so a very pleasant walk it is too. I arrive at the customs office and proceed to hand over all my paperwork to the man there… he gives most of it back to me saying I don’t need them as I am not importing the bike I am only visiting; most of the papers relate to DMV and registration of the bike. So all that form filling was a waste of time, but better to be safe than sorry I think. He gives me a form to fill in and basically I’m declaring all my personal items such as clothing etc and the bike so it’s that simple.
I walk back to the cargo warehouse thinking at this rate I’ll be able to have a ride this afternoon once I’ve dropped my luggage at the AirBnB apartment I’m renting for the week.
Well….. hold your horses there gal, it’s all downhill from here.
Once back at United Cargo I see Spotty again and he takes the customs paper and $60 from me, stamps a form a couple of times, asks for my signature, hands me the form and tells me to go into the next room and stand by the door with the glass panel, a forklift truck driver will come and get the paper to fetch my bike. I do as I am told. Through the glass I can see into the warehouse and it’s fascinating to watch all these forklifts whizzing around quite balletically with varying size loads.
After about 10 minutes I’m bored of watching them and starting to wonder how long I will have to wait. Meantime a couple of other people are now also waiting. Eventually a young black woman comes to the door and takes my piece of paper. I am then allowed into the warehouse to wait for the bike. They open one of the shutters and we can stand outside, so I take advantage of the sunshine. I look in my bag for my sunglasses…
Oh dear, the first casualty of this trip… I’ve got some superglue in my bag so I’ll try and fix them later. I bought these from a Harley dealer somewhere in the States 2 years ago, they were half price in the sales 🙁
The young black woman suddenly whizzes over in her forklift to tell me they are still looking for my bike as it’s not in the area they were expecting it to be…. ok, says I, thanks for letting me know. About 15 minutes later another woman comes over and asks for my paperwork, she then says she will be back and takes the papers with her. About another 15 minutes passes then a man comes over with my paperwork and tells me the bike isn’t here and it will be here later this evening!! What… I don’t believe it, how has this happened? Apparently it was here but then someone misread the number and put it on a truck… what, you mean someone’s stolen my bike? No, no it’s just gone to another warehouse by mistake but it’s on it’s way back now and will be here this evening. So, what time this evening, can I come and get it then. Well it’ll probably be more like 5am. So not this evening at all then, that’s tomorrow, fume fume. Well yes. So where is it exactly? LA… LA!! Unbelievable. I tell him that it’s just not acceptable and I’ve paid a lot of money to guarantee pickup today. He is very apologetic but there isn’t anything more he can do, but I can come back after 5am and the bike will be there.
Jesus! I just don’t believe it, here we fucking go again…… I’ve written a stinking email to Motofreight, I hope they are going to give me some sort of reparation.
So, now I’ve got no transport and my accommodation is up in the Oakland hills. I have to get back on the BART to Coliseum then get an Uber to my apartment, so another $20 down the tubes. When I am in the Uber I text my host to say I’m on my way. It’s only then I notice that I am supposed to have downloaded an app that will let me into the apartment… apparently they have an August lock, (whatever that means) so there is no key…. great so now it looks like I can’t get into the apartment… it just keeps getting better!
I arrive at the apartment and a few minutes later a car pulls into the drive. It’s the owners mum. She lets me into the apartment so that’s a relief.
Its not quite as nice as the pictures seem to show, but it’s good enough… however… no toilet paper or towels. I go upstairs to the main house and ring the bell. The door is answered by mum and daughter in law who proceeds to give me some toilet roll… but, she says, there are towels on the dresser. Ok.
Back downstairs and there are two rather dingy hand towels but no large one… mmm not happy about that really. I have a good look around and the bed hasn’t been made although the bedding is on the settee and looks laundered; there’s some tea bags – a variety of herbal concoctions – and two mugs but no kettle; there’s WiFi but I cannot get connected to it and a fridge that has a huge opened carton of soya milk. There’s no TV which is a bit odd, I do like the news on in the morning, but not that bothered. So another trip upstairs is required as I must have a kettle and a towel.
The Airbnb listing is under the name of Lukas, but I haven’t seen him yet. Mrs L comes to the door and when I ask about the kettle she explains that theirs broke and they haven’t replaced it yet, but she can give me some hot water now. I ask when does she think I can have a kettle as I do like a coffee in the morning and don’t want to disturb them, she promises to get one this evening. She also very kindly makes me a coffee saying she will bring it down and look at the WiFi for me. She also hands me a stack of towels 👏🏻
I unpack the few things I have with me; lucky I packed some spare knickers. Mrs L comes down with the coffee, a password for the WiFi and a code for the door. I ask her about places to eat. She says I cannot walk as, although this area is safe, there are some areas where it isn’t safe to walk and judging by her face she really means it! She suggests getting an Uber as there is nothing around here. Blimey this is turning into a bloody expensive day.
There is a lovely garden so I take the opportunity to drink my coffee in the sun.
Now that the wifi is working, I have a look on an app I’ve got called ‘Find Near Me’ and I spot a Popeyes, it’s a Cajun version of KFC.. that’ll do I think. I book an Uber which comes within 10 minutes. He drops me at Popeyes and I realise this is looking like a very bad area. I go in and eat quickly. A couple of doors down there is a small grocery so I pop in there for a few bits and bobs including some milk, cereal and coffee. As I’m leaving the store I see there are more people on the street and am a bit anxious so I head back into Popeyes and order another uber. It soon comes and I get back to the apartment safely.
It’s now 8.30 and I’m quite tired. Still no kettle. So today has cost me $40 in unnecessary travel expenses, and a further $20 in the morning to get me back to pick up the bike, grrrrr and double grrrrr.
Just as I’m about to post this blog I hear a noise outside… I take a quick look out the window and there is someone outside. A mans voice says hello, so I open the door and he introduces himself as Lukas and he has brought me a kettle… yay… I immediately make myself a coffee.