Monday, June 4, 2012

Week in Review: San Francisco

I have minor fantasies involving me living in San Francisco.  I know that visiting a place and living there are different things but there is something about this city that appeals to me.  And I would want to live IN the city, not in a suburb. 

I think this photo sums up one of the main things I love about being here.  This is a law office on top of a palm reader.  If the Ark in the Bible had been filled with 2 of every kind of person, I would totally believe it dumped them all here. 

While I will never end up living here, I am starting to fancy myself a quasi-local. When the walk symbol comes up, I walk and expect the drivers will stop (virtual suicide in North Texas).  Like most of the women here, I wear practical shoes. I must be carrying myself a little like a local too since a couple from England stopped me and asked if I lived here.  They were lost.  I helped them find their hotel.  Without a map.

The Hilton on Kearney.  I stayed here the first several times I came to the city.  The elevators here are painfully slow but I never minded.  The windows in the middle there are by the elevator bank and the overlook a park on the edge of Chinatown.  In the early morning I would stand there waiting, watching the people in the park doing Tai-Chi.  I found it mesmerizing.

If you get a room on the bay side, you can see out to Alcatraz and over to Coit tower.  There is a also a nice restaurant, a Starbucks in the lobby and a spa (which I never used). 

This view of Coit Tower is from the opposite side, taken from The Embarcadero.  A virus stole a lot of my old San Francisco photos. 

One of my favorite memories from this hotel involves the Blue Angels.  I was done at my customer's office about 3 pm so I went to the hotel to check email and do a little work.  The room has a desk that spans the full width of the room up against a solid wall of windows.  I had the view of the bay on that trip. As I worked, I heard a loud noise and looked out the window.  Nothing.  Heard it again.  Still nothing.  I was looking out over Alcatraz and finally saw it, the Blue Angels.  There was an airshow scheduled for that weekend and they were doing a practice run.  My own private airshow.

I stayed at the Hilton back in the days when I didn't get out much.  I ate at R&G (Chinese) or Subway (both across the street) or the hotel restaurant.  I walked to the hotel, to my customer and back.  I think I ventured about a block into Chinatown once.  That was it.

Chinatown Dragons.  It is hard to think about how much I have missed, not just here but in all of the cities I visited before this year.

Because I am not spending my own money, my affair with the Hilton has come to an end.  They have been too expensive the last several times so I moved, once just around the corner to the Omni on California St. (customer booked or I wouldn't have been able to afford this either).  I then worked my way over to the Crescent Hotel near Union Square.

The gray building is the Crescent.  It is near the corner of Stockton & Sutter.  The elevator can only carry about 3 people at a time and the rooms have no air conditioner.  This was especially unfortunate during my last stay there when the workers at the hotel across the street were on strike.  From sunrise to sunset it was constant "what do we want, contract, when do we want it, now" over a bullhorn.

This hotel is really close to the main Chinatown Gate and led me to really explore that area for the first time as I walked past it most days going back and forth to work.

The Chinatown Gate.  The most direct route involves going up some stairs to a bridge.  This is a common hangout for homeless people.  Normally this doesn't bother me but this time I was turning to go up the second flight when I encountered a man talking with a woman who appeared to be high or at least, coming down from a high.  He turned toward me and went up the step behind me.  I kept going and he turned back.  I didn't go that way anymore because it is pretty secluded in there most of the time.

On this trip, I changed hotels again.  The Crescent was booked and the other two were still too expensive.  This time I booked the King George near Union Square at Geary and Mason.  When I stayed at the Crescent I got in the habit of eating at Lori's Diner for breakfast.  I was close enough that I expected to do that this time as well.

Even better!  That is my hotel with the British flag and green awning.  There is a Lori's right next door.  Lori's is decorated like a true diner featuring a 50's look and feel.  This one had a lot of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, the one by the Crescent had Lucille Ball.

$280 a night doesn't get you much, especially during tourist season.  This is the inside of my room.  The bathroom is tiny with just a shower, no tub.

I miss my view from the Hilton.  At least I have air conditioning.  The hotel down the street where the lost British couple are staying is striking.

This hotel is close enough to the Crescent that I am not thrown off as I was after moving from the Hilton to the Crescent.  That was a totally new neighborhood and I had to learn all new restaurants and how to not get lost going back and forth to my customer's office.

It is also close to one of my favorite places for dinner.  Sears Fine Food on Powell near Union Square.  I have only ever had the salmon here.  It is the best salmon I have ever had with the exception of one restaurant I don't remember the name of in Chicago.

All of the waitstaff at Sears are men (if they have women, I have never seen them other than the hostess).  These men are generally in the 50-60 year old range.  Traditional dress of black pants, white shirt, black tie, long black apron.  Another restaurant my customer and I went to had this same uniform and, apparently, the same hiring manager.

Tadich Grill on California in the Financial District.  Not the place to go for a leisurely meal.  After eating, my customer/friend and I were just chatting when the waiter asked us to leave.  When I mentioned this to another person they said, "That's the Tadich".  For the price, they better let me sit there as long as I want. 

Because we were asked to leave, when we met again at the end of the week, we decide to go somewhere else.  We wander towards the Ferry Building and find Sinbad's at Pier 2.

Sinbad greeted us just inside the door.  I think we were both skeptical on seeing this.  Does the health inspector frown on exposed chest hair?  It turned out just fine.  I had the salmon (hairless) and no one asked us to leave.

As has become my custom, I took in some live theatre on this trip.  I already mentioned the disaster that was Xanadu.  Next up I see "Endgame" & "Play", two one act plays by Samuel Beckett at the American Conservatory Theater.  It is right across the street from my hotel, a big plus.  No driving involved.

The theater itself was really nice, all rose and green and gold.  The plays themselves were very strange.  I found "Play" fascinating if not exactly good, but I hated "Endgame".  It was listed as a dark comedy but I didn't even crack a smile.  I didn't understand what people were laughing at.  Did they think it was required because the program said "comedy"?  I was so ready for it to be over but this was made even more extreme because I was on the verge of punching the woman next to me who kept digging in her purse.

The only saving grace was that the man in front of me smelled good.  This was a nice change after the awful smells I experienced at Xanadu and 9-to-5 (Pennsylvania).  I had also just come from Sears where a group of 3, including a woman who was an obvious smoker, sat right next to me even though the bar was empty.  She spent the entire meal explaining to the men with her why smoking is actually a good thing.

My last day before heading to the Golden Gate Bridge and then home I decided on fresh air and a long, long, long walk. 

Skateboarder going down Lombard St. the "crookedest" street in San Francisco.  You can get down here by trolley or other methods as my mother and I did on my first ever trip to the city.  I don't think I would want to live on this street.  Not because of the twistyness, because of the tourists.

See this man?  He wasn't the only one standing on this wall to take pictures or to look at the view.  There were probably 30 people milling around here at the top of the hill.  That small sign says, "Keep off walls and roadway".  Most of these people and the skateboarders clearly cannot read or decided it doesn't apply to them.

I am going back to my real home because there are people there that I miss who aren't as convinced about living in San Francisco as I am.  Some of them have ruined this city for me, just a little.  I will talk about them in my next post:  The Frisco 4.

There are people that aren't at home I miss too.  My oldest and youngest children, my brother-in-law and son-in-law are all in the US Navy.  Me and the Lone Sailor here at the Golden Gate Bridge took a moment to look out over the water and contemplate all of the sailors at sea today.

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