A Week in the City by the Bay
We arrived in San Francisco last Thursday, tired and somewhat exhilarated. After a brief wait for Sarah hugs and greeting ensued. Sarah, far prettier than her photos let on, hung out with us that evening, and as she mentioned on her blog, ate dinner with us. The weather in SF was mild, a cool 75 degrees and sunny, though warm by Bay Area standards. Those poor people back home were suffering under 100+ degree heat. All I can say is, thank you Pacific Ocean.
On Friday, we headed downtown and had our first experience with the CalTrain. Finding the station right next to our hotel to be non accessible to handicapped people was rather inconvenient. But the kind attendants allowed us to lift Mom’s Amigo and we were on our way. Once downtown, we headed toward the bay bridge, stopping at a small cafe to eat brunch. Once to the bridge we made our way along the waterfront to Pier 39.
I love the ocean, especially the Pacific. It’s so vast and seems to have a far more exotic appeal than the Atlantic. Its ports seem cleaner less hurried. New York had its own appeal, with the indomitable spirit of its people permeating the air of the city. But a kind of frantic energy surrounds the city, and I found it hard to relax while there earlier this year. San Francisco is a much slower paced city, and there seemed something clean about the Bay and the Ocean, something of a promise I didn’t feel in New York while looking at the sunrise over the Atlantic. Perhaps it was just the timing, but I will probably always like SF better.
On Saturday we returned to downtown and took in some of Chinatown, pushed Mom up most of the way to Telegraph Hill and saw Coit’s Tower. The San Francisco skyline is an interesting one, with the Golden Gate Bridge and the variety of hills; the houses stand out, gleaming as the sun hits the pale stucco walls. I think I could spend several months here photographing the city. There’s so much to see and so much that requires a lot of time to properly setup and capture.
Sunday we rested, went to church with Sarah and met her family. Her family was very kind, and we were grateful for such generous hospitality. They loaded us down with food to take home, enough to feed us for three days. Seriously. That evening, Jon and I went over to her apartment and we introduced Sarah to several movies she has been missing out on. I think The Princess Bride and the Blues Brothers were welcomed additions to her repertoire, but the evening ran late and we had to retire.
Monday Mom stayed home and Jon and I accompanied Sarah to Livermore in search of books for her classes. We ate at this cool little sushi deli with the best Irish sandwiches. *yum* Then off to the library where I found old copies of some stories by Alexandre Dumas as well as The Jesus Record for 2 bucks. *sweet* Later that afternoon we went to Ocean Beach and I got seriously wet while playing in the surf. We goofed off a bit until the sunset and I completed by New Year’s resolution. It was phenomenal, and very much like all those TV shows and movies depict it. It was a great day. After the sunset, we went back to her place and watched Alien the movie. *grin* But this time it was too late to catch the BART home and the Taxi we took was ridiculously expensive. *note to self: never take taxis*
On Tuesday, both Mom and Jon were sick for some reason, a malady I was gracefully spared, so Sarah and I took off to SFSU so she could pick up the last of her books. After lunch we headed out to the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog was rolling in off the ocean, and the temperature dropped to normal levels. It was very cool to see the big front of fluffy white cloud just sitting on the edge of the city. By the time we made it to the bridge, most of it was obscured by fog. You could see the fog being blown by the wind, as it passed the bridge. We walked across, stopping to toss a penny over the edge to see if we could see it hit the water, but we lost sight of it near the bottom. The fog cleared up a bit as we neared the other side and I was able to get some nice shots of the bridge and the little harbor on the North side. I would have like to have spent the whole even around there, but Sarah had a lot to prepare for class tomorrow, so we headed home.
Wednesday Jon and Mom were feeling better, so we took in the Legion of Honor and more of Fisherman’s Wharf. Feeling tired and satiated we headed home for the last time.
Now for some idle thoughts about the city. Having tried every form of public transportation available to the city denizen, I find myself wishing I had my car. It’s just so darn slow, and terribly inefficient for one person. You can wait anywhere between 10-40 minutes between connections, and a 5 minute drive turns into 45 minutes because the bus stops every other block. Its nice to have, but I’ll be glad to get back to the convenience of my own car.
San Francisco’s architecture is remarkably different from Saint Louis. Nearly all the houses have some kind of Spanish influence. Most are built in the Victorian style with outward appearances in stucco with pastel colors. The houses are built very close together. The effect is striking, because most of the houses sit on some kind of hill or mountainside, and when the sun hits the homes, the city looks white. The homes seem small, and I get the impression people are used to living in much smaller spaces with larger families sharing the dwelling places. Cozy.
You just can’t beat the bay. It’s beautiful, breathtaking really, and its practically on your doorstep. Nowhere in the city are you very far away from the ocean, which, incidentally, is very cold. How people can swim in it is beyond me. There’s a very diverse set of people here, and it seems as though the Caucasians are a minority. Large numbers of Asian and Hispanic and natives of the Pacific Islands seem to make up the majority. It adds an element of romance to the city, and for once it was nice to be the odd one out.
We leave early tomorrow morning. I was able to do and see all that I wanted to see, and I leave somewhat wistfully, for though I don’t think I could leave Saint Louis, least not yet, I could love San Francisco.