Just over a week ago, the Griffin was at GDC in San Francisco. Feathers combed, beak polished and we were off, flying Edinburgh to London and on to San Francisco. With British Airways, that is…

Peter is not a man who ‘is one’ with plane travel. While he gulped down a horse tranquilizer in an effort to sleep while we all ‘thumbed our noses at the laws of physics’, and Trevor read the biggest hardback book that would still fit through the airlock, I concentrated on staying awake so I didn’t miss any inflight meals. It’s warped, it’s twisted, but I love those little foil-covered dishes of delights. Mmmm… individually wrapped morning rolls.

After eleven hours, and too many inflight movies, the plane touched down, and Peter was gently encouraged from the plane with the sound of tearing Velcro.

American immigration was fun (in the way that the Black Death was a ‘bit of an amusing romp’). Trevor skipped through, on the flimsy pretext of already being American, but myself and Peter had an incorrect address for where we were staying. Being entirely unsure about how American addresses work and the guy in the uniform coolly stating ‘we were wasting his time’ we were sent along to the room where plastic gloves and short intakes of breath live. Thankfully, Peter’s laptop coughed out the right address, before the griffin had its posterior investigated. This event reminded me how aggravatingly hostile American immigration can be.

Reaching the BA desk, I found my luggage had decided to ditch me and go on a world tour, reminding me how aggravatingly hopeless BA can be. They were encouraging that my luggage would arrive the next day. Maybe. Definitely. Possibly. In the meantime, they gave me a $50 pre-loaded credit card by way of compensation, so I wasn’t about to complain. No clothes, though. I later bought a game design book with the cash, illustrating that: (A) game development is more important than modesty and (B) It’s kinda cool that BA knew what I wanted.

So we arrived.

San Francisco is a sparkly, modern city overlooking San Francisco Bay. Across the wide-open water is Alcatraz, while up on the hills are the suburbs and their iconic, hill-valley-hill-valley gradients, nestling in amongst the morning haze. The suburbs are probably the bit you think of when you imagine San Francisco. There are semi-tropical plants here and there, but it’s not too humid. There are some great murals and plenty of wooden buildings – all that wood makes for elaborate architecture. Then there’s that little cookery book store with its selection of modern and antiquarian cook books, or the café where you put your name on the list and wait out on the street corner for a seat, while a guy’s dog gets a bowl of water. Across the intersection, the local animal sanctuary is showing animals off outside the pet shop in the hope folks will adopt. While down the road is a donut shop or a café descriptively called ‘Pie’.

We were right in the middle of this picaresque district, staying in a quant, old, wooden house. The furniture was worn and comfy, there were enough pillows on each bed to build a whole new one, and we were greeted with a bottle of red wine on arrival. Conveniently, the house was only twenty minutes away from the city centre on the Muni (the local tram / underground system) arriving within a block of the Moscone Centre, where GDC was to be held. As we turned up a couple of days early, we had plenty of time to get settled in and find our way around before the conference kicked off.

It was lovely weather. I bought myself a hat before my noble (ok, receding) hairstyle resulted in ‘scalp crackling’. We checked out the Golden Gate Bridge (no mist), saw the Palace of Fine Arts (a huge, though somewhat anachronistic, ancient Greek-style-temple-thing) and had a meal at a crab restaurant. There may have been some random photography of ‘American stuff’ like school buses and fire trucks (sorry Trevor) and we had a wander through China Town. Optimistically, we also bought a bunch of food to cook for ourselves back in the house. Despite America’s reputation for fast food and low-quality produce, the supermarket was, as I’ve always found, packed full of lovely stuff. And, despite a guy I was chatting to mentioning America doesn’t do cheese (?), there was plenty rennet-curdled milk-products to be had. Trevor even got himself a… gnrgh… (cough)… goat brie (1).

On Sunday, we registered for the conference and picked up passes, which was a surprisingly streamlined process. I also picked up my luggage after one of the guys in Codeplay (the company we share an office with) had it delivered to his hotel. Thanks Neil 🙂

One night, I don’t know which, we were shaken awake to discover a minor quake. As it was mild, and all such things come under ‘awesome tourism’ if you’re a Scottish visitor, it was a pity I was unable to photograph tectonic slippage. Probably would’ve been blurry, anyhow.

The Griffin.

(1) I thought he’d rolled in something…

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