Joel and I made a quick pit stop in San Francisco back in 1989 when moving back to the Midwest after a half-year stint in Alaska (a story for another day, another post.) At that time, we had a three-year-old Alexandra with us and did the usual touristy things like riding a trolley car, touring Alcatraz and hanging out on Fisherman’s Wharf. We vowed to return someday soon. ‘Soon’ turned into 26 years. Not quite what we had in mind, but at least it happened, right?! San Francisco was still there this past May and did not disappoint.
We started our visit by checking into The Artist’s Inn, a quaint bed and breakfast in Upper Fillmore. Well, it was a modified B&B in that the bed was at The Artist’s Inn and the breakfast was down the street at a little diner. Worked great for us. The central location was perfect for bumming around the city. What we couldn’t reach on foot was accessible via the nearby bus line.
Speaking of bumming around, that’s what we did that first day. We moseyed over to Golden Gate Park and saw some present-day hippies on Hippie Hill, taking in a few whiffs of all sorts of things. We wandered on through the Haight Ashbury area – colorful, laid back, bohemian, wild. All of that. We found a tapas place for dinner there called Cha Cha Cha. We were nearly through our meal when we realized there were altars around the entire perimeter of the dining room in Day of the Dead style. Right up my alley!
Wait! Before all that, we wandered around Japantown. This was related to needing to park the rental car in a garage there for roughly 90 minutes so we could then park for free on the street. These are the things you do when you’re a frugal traveler. There the Peace Pagoda is the central feature. And we love Asian grocery stores so wandered up and down the aisles there to see if we could find familiar goods from our Korea and Thailand travels.
Day two continued the bumming around. (I can’t quite tell you how unusual this is for us to just wander. We tend…ahem, correction…I tend to over plan trips a tad. This was a fun change.) First we bused it to The Mission District hoping to check out Mission Delores, a center of religious and cultural life for centuries. I’m a sucker for these places and always seek them out for my own enjoyment as well as to buy a rosary for mi madre. Beautiful art and architecture and portals to the feminine abounded.
Wandering through the district was high on my list with its beautiful, colorful, meaningful and fun murals on the outside of public buildings. We wound through most of them and declared them all a must MUST see. The neighborhood is already buzzing with life and the murals make it all vibrate even more. Some photos:
One mural was being completed in an urban-courtyard park. And bonus for us, neighborhood dancers were rehearsing for the unveiling ceremony the following day.We got to watch these beauties doing their thing.
The muralists frantically finishing their work. Seriously, it was frantic. They were at the 11th hour and looking a little worn!
When in the Mission District, eat real Mexican food, right? We stopped at La Taqueria for yummy eats and boom! A mariachi band wandered in and did their thing. Yes, please.
What better way to walk off some awesome tacos than through the hills of San Fran! We traipsed up and down on our way to the Castro Neighborhood. Not sure the grade here, but our quadriceps estimated a 30% incline.
Castro is a pretty basic neighborhood with gorgeous homes, families, dog walkers…the usual. We were interested in the Human Rights Campaign Action Center, once Harvey Milk’s camera shop and home base for the amazing, brave work he did for all of us. We heartily thanked Harvey by purchasing tshirts for the whole clan and signing us all up as members. Lots of good work going on there to continue the progress toward equality.
We also honored Mr. Milk and celebrated our purchases at Harvey’s, a local pub.
A few other glimpses of Castro. Honestly, if it had been Sunday, I would have been in that theater singing every line to Grease!
One more noteworthy stop on Day 2. Someone on the street asked us for directions to Mrs. Doubtfire’s house. No idea. But hey, seriously? It’s here somewhere? So we looked it up and wandered into Pacific Heights and found this. Mission accomplished. Onward.
You will not believe what we did on Day 3. One of my favorite, all-time persons is Gabrielle Roth. She taught me how to dance to my bones via her music and book, Sweat Your Prayers. She’s no longer of this world, but there are folks who carry on her tradition and have classes and workshops. I knew one locale for this was San Francisco so we looked up the schedule and dropped into a Sunday morning class. And yes, WE. Joel was uber curious and brave and joined in. We sweat our prayers for two solid hours. Hallelujah! We looked like this after.
And then we walked outside and landed on Presidio Park’s Off The Grid Picnic and Food Truck Party. Perfection.
And then…THEN…we did what has been on both of our lists for quite some time. We rode a tandem bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. So so fun. And windy. Lots of views.
A view of Joel with our destination in the background.
Views of the bridge close up. Impressive!
Views of us taking a break and enjoying the experience. And yes, I’m holding on tightly here. It’s a tad intimidating.
My view from the rear of the tandem.
A view of Alcatraz from the other side of the bridge.
And last, a view of me waiting for the ferry to bring us back to San Francisco.
A great trip on all counts. Oh yes, we also headed down to Sausalito for quick meeting that Joel needed to attend – the impetus for our trip. Sausalito is a cute little town that I totally spaced taking any photos of so you’ll just have to trust me. So yes, a great trip all around!!