San Francisco, California
USA $1.25 = 80p
I absolutely adore the city of San Francisco...  One of the worlds most visited tourist destinations, with attractions such as Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square (for shopping), the Golden Gate Bridge and incredibly steep hills (it's the backdrop for movies such as Dirt Harry, The Hulk, Mrs Doubtfire to name but a few).
Another attraction of San Fran is Silicon Valley, home to many of the worlds largest technology corporations, including Twitter, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and many more smaller innovative start ups.  It's “THE” creative state of mind, rather than physical location.  If you’re an entrepreneur, an inquisitive trend-setter, a trail-blazer even....  It is definitely the place to soak up! But to tour this valley it is pretty pricey at roughly $60 an hour.  
Which leads me into my challenge, ticking the box via 'freebies': Well kinda...  I personally was unable to go along, but my colleague went for a free tour of Google city, in Silicone Valley.  The tip, if you know (or can befriend) an employee of one of the great high tech companies, be their guest and it'll cost you absolutely nothing for the tour.  This includes inside Google, Google, street view car, maps, virtual tour with free food and drinks! Now that's worth befriending an employee for eh?!
Additionally, a freebie was the live theatre amidst the hustle and bustle of shoppers on Market Street.  A fascinating production by Zaccho Dance Theatre 'Sailing Away' where historic figures came to life in telling the story of hundreds fleeing discrimination, San Francisco's Black Exodus of 1858. Truly inspirational.
On the other end of the scale, yet another freebie was compliments of Macy's Department Store.  I'd forgotten to pack my make up so went along for a free makeover including takeaway samples! Incidentally, a tip you could use in any city, at any department store.  However, the special offer in San Fran was a free 10 day sample of any foundation.  I opted for a light airbrushed tint by Mac and light coverage N9 by Bobbi Brown (cheeky, I know!)
So whilst my freebies, more than met the challenge....  Here's a few items that did actually cost: small Americano $1, my favourite jelly bean sweets with 36 flavours, one litre of bottled water and several other small items of snacks and drinks.
On leaving the super market I was asked if I had my own bag and forewarned of the forthcoming ban of plastic bags in the San Francisco region.  Although I use the word 'ban' very lightly, plastic bags were still readily available but at a cost of a dime (6p). Incidentally, this so-called ban was one of the biggest story to hit the headlines, whist in San Fran.
England, as yet does not have a ban, although customers used almost 8bn carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4% rise on the 7.6bn in 2010, that’s each person using an average of roughly 11 bags a month.  As such a levy on single-use plastic bags may well be introduced in England at 5p, just slightly cheaper than San Francisco. (Levy in England)
I pose this question, is this a stealth tax? Surely much more non-recyclable plastics are from the packaging of products we buy in supermarkets as opposed to the bag we take them home in!
But I guess that's a debate for another blog.......
Dawne B Stewart
Twitter: @dawneb007

Article by Dawne B / 20th September 2012


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