Leave your heart behind

San Francisco was a lot of fun. Here are some of the highlights:

–Walked through Chinatown and indeed it is like being in some city in a foreign land, albeit one with that understands its tourist aspect. We bought Soren a kite at a place that had a decent mix of authentic kites as well as lots of Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer types.
–Ate several great meals and a couple of fantastic ones. The best places were the smallest, one being the Nob Hill Cafe which is about as big as my living room. If you weren’t looking for it you would walk right past it as there is no sign but the food and neighborhood feel were authentic. A pair of identical twins who must have been in their late 70’s in matching wigs and makeup and outfits showed up to enjoy a meal at their favorite table. On the sidewalk in front of the cafe they were accosted by many locals who wanted to kibitz or have a picture snapped with them.
–Checked out Amoeba records near Haight Ashbury and resisted snapping up many many records. I didn’t really feel like buying another suitcase just to feed my vinyl cravings
–Found several b & w photo booths and used one to capture 4 snaps in the way that only a photostrip is capable of.
–Waded in the Pacific which was beer-cooler cold.
–Walked around onFisherman’s Wharf but did not make it to Alcatraz. The old buildings along the wharf are cool and the outdoor kill-and-cook-right-in-front-of-you crab places are neat but the surrounding streets are overrun with junky tourist shops and Starbucks’s and the like (I noticed a GAP was about to open on one corner). I did notice that the local IN-AND-OUT BURGER was located right next to a Hooters.
–Missed the largest fireworks display ever in California (it was happening over the bay while we were downtown blissfully eating Indian food, wondering where the crowd was on a Saturday night)
–Watched local news coverage of the fireworks and laughed out loud when the reporter said the display was “unlike no other.”
–Went to see the really tall trees in Muir Woods which is literally a 30 minute drive from SF.
–Went to Sonoma and did my first wine tasting which was charming at one place (where our friends joined a wine club) and dismal and disappointing at another (where the servers were busy flirting with the drunk young hotties) but overall very cool. Sonoma Valley looks like paradise and I kept reminding myself that SF is only an hour south.
–Chilled in Berkeley with our friends and ate Ethiopian.
–Checked out the University of California at Berkekely and saw many folks wearing shirts that just said “CAL” on them. Are all the Universities out there just referred to as “CAL” or is that a local thing? I forgot to ask of course…
–Did the very touristy riding of a trolley (very cool) and riding a cable car (not as cool but probably necessary as those hills are murder).

We were surprised at how nice everyone we met was. The only stuffy response we got was during a mix-up with our hotel (our stay was a gift and so our reservations didn’t have our names attached) and we realized that we might have been taken a bit more seriously had we been wearing business suits. As we were wandering around admiring the views and the buildings Deanna said “apart from the fact that we could never afford to buy a house or own our horse, I’d love to live in San Francisco.” I felt much the same way–I love cities and how so much goes on in such a little space. Chicago is where most of my family is from and through my many visits I’ve never gotten tired of exploring anywhere we could go. I’ve been to Kansas City a couple of times and found SF had the same feel. We crammed an awful lot into our four days and the whole time I kept wishing we could stay on and soak everything up.

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