Black Friday is traditionally the most crazed, consumer-driven day of the year. It's the day after Thanksgiving, when half of America realises it only has one month until Christmas and oh help how am I going to get time to buy something for my second cousin twice removed?!
But, I saved that stuff for today. At least, I bought stuff for me. While I lamented my spending habits, Brendan pointed out that a.) it was all stuff I needed and had been wanting to buy for ages, like $30 brown boots with kitten heels (seriously!) and b.) that I already had set aside the money for it anyway. (He went to the airport with Alex to see his ex-lecturer for an hour, so he was spared the shopping. Anyway, I work best alone.)
Town was crazy today, especially Union Square and all the high-end shops in that area. Far more packed with people than most Saturday mornings, which are already pretty crowded along the Powell - Market - Sutter area.
Christmas songs were playing. All the Christmas trees twinkled furiously. Tourists tried to get on the cable car. Tourists thought that standing by the kerb would make the cable car come to them (it's on rails... the rest of the people on the cable car laughed openly at them). And everywhere, the bargain-hunters searched frantically with an air of desperation that somewhere, on perhaps that rack or this aisle, might be the perfect pair of shoes that someone else had already swooped on.
But that was today. Yesterday, we had a more interesting day than shopping. We went biking, we went ice-skating and we went and sang karaoke. Yes you heard right... oh the shame...why am I even telling you all?!
We hired bikes and helmets and went for a bike ride across the Golden Gate bridge. It was a perfect day - calm, sunny and a cloudless sky. Absolutely stunning and reasonably cool. (What you don't see in this photo is that recently there was a huge toxic oil spill here and many birds died, and the beach is only just safe enough to walk on again. But you certainly can't eat any of the seafood.)
We are geeks! See, perfect weather. Pretty pretty.
Now Brendan is also talking about this but I think the balanced stones make a nice picture.
On the bridge, we stopped by one of the large posts on the bridge to take a picture. It was a blind corner, and some cyclists stopped on the right hand side of the bridge, opposite from us. Just then, another bike came whizzing around the corner and collided with someone coming the opposite way. The guy who fell over hurt his knee, and said to his friend who had stopped, "You stupid d**khead, why did you stop there for? I told you not to do that, mate!" in the broadest Kiwi accent. Brendan and I thought it was so typically Kiwi!
We also saw a guy in the bike shop from Wellington/Palmy as well on the same day which was pretty unusual as we haven't seen any other Kiwis (apart from our friends) for months. He was in SF for a week before he headed off to Denmark for work.
After we'd dropped our bikes back at the hire shop, we went and had coffee in North Beach near the shop. The owners had a sign: "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet".
The owners laughingly told us that people loved the sign, and often espoused those exact values, saying, "I'm only 300 pounds!" (around 150 kg in very rough estimation), and, "I'm starting my diet tomorrow!"
Halfway through our ride, Stefan called and asked if we wanted to go ice-skating - did I ever! I haven't been before so I was looking forward to it.
So along with Hannah's sisters Claire and Ingrid and her mum, and Hannah and Stefan, we went off to the Embarcadero where a seasonal outdoor rink had been set up. It was fun - I fell over a lot, everyone laughed at me including people on the sidelines, and I have a few bruises today I didn't notice getting last night. I got the hang of it pretty much immediately. I don't care if I fell over, it was fun. Brendan wasn't as keen as me, but he gave it a good shot too. I think next time we will go to the one in Yerba Buena Gardens which is larger and hopefully will let us skate for longer. Still, 2 hours is long enough really when you get a bit puffed.
Lastly we went back to Claire's flat so they could get ready for karaoke, and played the "flag the taxi for 6 people" game which we lost, and had to play the "tag two taxis for 3 people each" game instead. Our taxi driver was nuts - I thought he would accelerate into other cars quite a few times.
The pub was very much like a NZ pub, but with Americans instead. Country songs had half the pub up and line dancing - I kid you not.
Brendan and I talked to a guy who lived in California but was from London. His wife was also from London but 7 months pregnant, so he was taking the best man at their wedding out for a night.
So we all did a few songs... highlights of the evening include Stefan and Hannah doing the "I like big butts" song, Brendan, Stefan and I doing a Crowded House song and the Americans being confused, and some guy singing the "Okie from Muskogee" song which Dad always sings the chorus to but I'd never heard all the verses. Anyway. I should stop talking about karaoke now. It's the first time I've ever done it, and it scares me.
"I like big butts and I cannot lie..." Hannah and Stefan really get into it.