Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tales of the city

My stay in Tucson was brief and it was soon time to begin the next phase of the off-ice journey in the San Francisco Bay area.

We spent Thanksgiving morning doing some urban birding at the Albany mudflats just outside of Oakland with Michael's mother, brother and a couple of friends. Perhaps that was a good way to build up an appetite for the turkey feast that afternoon. We joined an eclectic collection of extended friends and family and feasted on food that was just as varied and delightful as the company.

We've spent the last few days soaking up the sights, sounds and tastes of the city as Michael has been showing me around his old favorite haunts. He let me indulge in some obligatory tourist activities and we took a cable car from Chinatown to Fisherman's Wharf.

The city competed a massive restoration project of the cable car system in the 1980's and today they happily clang away carrying tourists as well as residents. I thought it was a great way to get around instead of hoofing it up and down the hills. Besides, how often do you get to hang off the side of a moving vehicle in traffic?

We walked along the wharves and Embarcadero early enough in the morning to avoid the crowds and most of the shops weren't even open yet. As much as I love being a tourist, I can't stand any of the other pesky tourists.

But it wasn't too early for the sea lions. Pier 39 has become home to hundreds of sea lions since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and now they are a beloved attraction at the water front, just like clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

Alcatraz looked so close on this beautiful sunny clear day. Funny, people often compare South Pole to Alcatraz for some reason but I'm sure we have better food than the inmates ever had.

And speaking of South Pole, it's apparently the hottest brand of jeans among trendy high schoolers in the Bay area. I'll see if we can start carrying some of the styles in Polemart.

We spent lots of time visiting the old favorite hangouts, like eating burritos at El Farolito in the Mission and drinks at Vesuvio in North Beach. This is where Jack Kerouac hung out and there are plenty of hommages to the beat generation.

I though it had a great interior and since it opens at 6am, it also has its own collection of colorful regulars. We've actually gone there three times so far, the earliest being 10 am, and I must say the Bloody Mary is fantastic.

I love the nuances of the city and amidst the hustle and bustle on the streets with business men closing deals on cell phones, tourists wandering into traffic to take the perfect photo and an endless barrage of panhandlers, nothing disturbs the concentration of some intense checkers players in a little park on Kearny St.

This is all providing a nice transition for heading over to Bangkok in two days...


At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Tara said...

"Sittin' on the dock of the bay..."


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