I haven’t really traveled to a place that I didn’t like. Yes there are some that hold more of a special place in my heart than others, but really, I just like to see the world. I like to wake up and have my coffee in a different coffee shop, see the sunrise from a different window or street. Watch the world wake up in a different way. Watch how life functions from a different point of view. I have to say San Francisco, out of all the cities, was one of my favorite. It was relaxed. So were the people. The food was amazing, because much like other American cities, you can stand in the middle of one busy street and choose from Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Russian or whatever cuisine you are looking for at that specific moment. It’s breezy, but it feels good. The sun goes under the clouds, but it always comes back out. The fog rolls in… but it lifts. The hills go up, but they always go back down too.
My dad told me of how he was in San Fran the night before he shipped out to Vietnam. The California men bought my penniless father food and drinks though the night. He could remember them all saying when the sun was coming up… “Awww man…I wish you didn’t have to go.” He remembered San Fran fondly.
We spent the next few days at a pace a bit slower than the first. Sometimes my husband and I forget that we’ve aged and are reminded of it in the mornings with sore legs and shins from hours of hill climbing. Meanwhile our Dino Dude will keep on skipping circles around us for 18 hours straight, until he just passes out in some obscure place…like the sidewalk, a park bench or the restaurant we happened to choose after he had charmed the waitress.
We spent several hours at Pier 39, full of lovely shopping, performers, wonderful food… and sea lions. Barking, fighting, sunning, swimming, slimy, adorable sea lions. The Dino Dude got to bungee jump on a trampoline. It made his day. It made me a bit ill to watch him flip and flip and flip over and over and over again. We decided to skip the Alcatraz tour, none of us really were interested in it. I haven’t watched a scary movie in nearly 10 years. I like to focus on the happy. But it was still intriguing to be sitting at lunch and have that sitting out there…kind of a gloomy place looming out past the shores of such a happy-go-lucky city.
It was cold by the ocean so we walked toward down town and saw Lombard street. The most crooked street in the world. We walked to the top and waved at all the cars winding their way down it. At the top we hopped on a trolley(which was on my vitality tally) and then made our way to the Ghirardelli chocolate factory. Where I bought a truck load of chocolate….but only made it home with enough to fill a smart car.
We visited Haight-Ashbury….the street of legends. The little one with us wanted to know why it smelled like skunk, someday I will have to explain that to him. It’s a famous street where the “hippies” commenced. I bought a shirt in a vintage shop from a man dressed like a Beatle. My son bought chameleon goggles from a woman dressed like a normal person, and I bet I remember my purchase longer than he will.
We also visited the Painted Ladies. The row of beautiful Victorians made famous by “Full House” and a red convertible with John Stamos (who I had a poster of in my room when I was kid….c’mon girls, didn’t you?)
Our home away from home was just a few blocks from China town. A couple months ago when we told the Dino Dude that we were going to be close to China Town, he said… the only thing I want on the whole trip is a Chinese finger trap. And by golly, within two steps into China Town, there were some! It was a wonderful busy place. It’s a great place for sushi, which we ate off of a floating boat. Everything was shiny, everyone was bustling in the streets…it was a boisterous street.
On the last day, I made my way down the hill to the coffee shop in the morning. We wandered around Union Square, window shopping in stores, looking at things we will never have, and never really want, but are fun to look at anyway. We drank fresh squeezed orange juice. We ate a top the roof, overlooking the city. With pigeons helping us. And then we had to bid San Francisco farewell.
But I could hear it whispering to me ”Aww man… I wish you didn’t have to go…”
Song: If You’re Going to San Francisco, Scott McKenzie