San Francisco as a Tourist

Visiting San Francisco is a bit like coming home to me – I did live here for five years, after all. I like that when I come visit, I know where to get things I want, how to get around (I was not paying attention when they handed out direction sense, so I didn’t get any – a problem when I travel) and that many of my friends are here. While walking around, I realized that I have actually failed to see the place from a tourist’s point of view before. The first time I came here, Michael was interviewing for a job, and we knew we were going to live here soon. The city never had a chance to be a novelty for me.

On this trip we are staying in a different hotel than we normally do. It’s on the Embarcadero, which runs along the north side of the city. It’s where you will find the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, etc.

I looked out the back door of the hotel a few days ago and noticed that we had a view of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge. I don’t live anywhere near water anymore, and somehow the sight of the Bay made me regret that fact. The stiff breeze (it’s always cold here in SF, especially in the summer) made me feel thankful that I no longer live near the water. It’s funny what a little perspective can do for me.

I know this scene somehow looks warm, but don’t let it fool you – it was maybe in the mid-50s (and this in in the middle of July!) when I went out.

There are places in San Francisco that I miss. I love the Ferry Building. Inside, it’s mostly a farmer’s market, with shops selling artisan cheeses, olive oil, and other food items. There are also a few chain stores, but mostly the chains are coffee shops. There is also a kitchen gadget chain store inside. Right inside the door nearest to my hotel is a small kiosk for Mariposa, a gluten-free bakery! In the plaza right outside of the Ferry Building, there’s a local art market in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.

Another place I used to love? Mitchell’s Ice Cream. They have the most wonderful ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The secret is that they have the highest butter fat content you can get without turning the ice cream into… well… I don’t know what it would be, but there is a fine line between amazing ice cream and just a lump of fat. I confess that I went there last night. I hadn’t eaten any significant amount of sugar in a while, and I figured that it’s been a few weeks since I last tested the dairy allergy, so no big deal. I have good news and bad news about that – my throat didn’t swell this time, but I did have to sleep two more hours last night than I normally need. It’s progress.

And finally, I went to Imagiknit. It’s my favorite yarn shop ever. Imagiknit has more yarn than I do than any other shop I’ve ever been to. I can easily spend a fortune in there – as a matter of fact, I have spent a small fortune in there on multiple occasions (not that I engaged in that practice today…) . Maybe it’s best that I no longer live close enough to go every day. A few months ago, I bought the cashmere for the christening gown at Imagiknit. The store owner, Alison, asked me to show her pictures of the finished product, so I did one better – I brought it with me to show her in person. She was pretty excited, and she took pictures to put on her blog (so look for me, I’ll be famous one day!).

I took time to notice more than just the places I miss. There are small details about the city that surprise me, exasperate me, or just intrigue me.

It’s a nice surprise to see actual foliage in the urban landscape that is San Francisco.

It exasperates me the way that every place, no matter where you are going is uphill. The cold, dreary weather also made me miserable on a regular basis when I lived here. I should mention that there are micro-climates in San Francisco, and some neighborhoods(like the Mission) can actually be warm in the summer. Look carefully at the picture on the right, though, and you’ll see that on most days, everyone is bundled up for mild winter weather, even in July.

The random art that dots the streets of San Francisco intrigues me. I admit, I’m not into sculpture and paintings and such, but I do appreciate that you won’t find these things anywhere else. I hope to get a shot of some of the murals in the Mission before I go home this time. I did get a few things I haven’t seen before, though.

I kind of like the monster! He had friends, but I was in a hurry to get food and only caught this one.

It’s been fun to see San Francisco as a tourist. I didn’t realize just how much I could see, even given that I spend my days here flitting from one social engagement to the next.

On Wednesday, I replaced all the things I forgot to bring with me and then went to knit night. On Thursday, I took the day off and mostly stayed in the hotel so I could have the energy to make it through Scottish Country Dance class (my picture is still on the fliers – I’ll have to scan it for you!). I forgot to go to the Animal Welfare Commission meeting – oops. On Friday, I did something that I can’t tell you about until some people at home see it in person, then I went out to get my nails done with Naomi (knitting Naomi). In the evening, Michael and I met up with our friend Ryan for dinner and then a board game at another friend’s (Tim’s) house. Today, we started the afternoon by meeting an old co-worker of Michael’s, Vicki. I made her a blanket for her new baby last year, and they still use it – she even said it was the nicest baby gift they got! Michael went rock climbing while I went to Imagiknit. After coming home and taking a short nap (I’m very sore and wiped out from all the walking and from dance class), we met Harriett for dinner. Tomorrow, I am going to pick up a copy of Dragon Quest 9, then I am meeting a new friend in Union Square while Michael goes off to watch the World Cup game with Naomi’s husband. I am hoping to meet the other Naomi (kitten foster mom Naomi) after my lunch date. In the evening, I am hoping to catch my old friends Brendan and Bethany (we met them on a cruise to Mexico shortly after we moved to San Francisco) for dinner and maybe some theater. On Monday I plan to spend the day volunteering at the city shelter, then I am meeting Michael and Judie (whom we met on our first cruise to Hawai’i for our 5th anniversary) for dinner. I can’t remember if I have anything on Tuesday yet. Still, as you can see, the schedule is full – I am burning the candle at both ends while I’m here. I will attempt to put up another post before I go home, and I will continue to try to see the city from a tourist’s point of view. It should be interesting!

P.S. – I stole the emoticon from this site.

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