Brian in North Beach, San Francisco.
Heh, sorry about the lack of updates, I got it in my head that I couldn’t write anything until I wrote about the rest of the trip to San Francisco. So here goes, I’ve thought of other things I wanted to post, so I’m going to push through this. This may be text and image heavy, but then I promise to write more often.
Sears' Fine Food in Union Square, San Francisco.
Sunday morning, we woke up and stood in line at Sears’ Fine Food across the street from the Sir Francis Drake. We stood in line on the sidewalk with everyone else, waiting to get in for our Easter morning pancakes. The waitress made a drink for me that was just club soda and lime, and honestly, it’s drink I think I am going to make frequently now for both breakfast and lunch. Since we moved to Portland, I don’t really drink soda, but I am still a huge fan of the bubbles, so it seems like a perfect drink to me. The restaurant had been there for a good long time, and at one point had a host who was 109!
We walked around Union Square – it was a gorgeous day so there were tons of people out. We skirted bits of the Tenderloin, and happened upon a church that had all its doors and window open. People were singing and clapping so joyfully and loudly, we were drawn to them from over a block away. Neat listening to that in the bright morning sunlight – I think it was a methodist church.
After that, we decided to retrieve our car and go for a wander in other neighborhoods. We didn’t have anything particularly in mind, so we really just did our typical, oh neat, let’s turn here.
In Xanadu did Kubla....errr.......Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.
As we were wandering through the Marina neighborhood, I saw a round dome sort of thing a few blocks over. I navigated Brian back to the area and we parked right in front of the Palace of Fine Arts. ?! I had no idea this existed! In the all the years I’ve been going to San Francisco, I never saw it or even saw a picture of it. Built in 1915, it’s under renovation right now to make it a bit more structurally sound against earthquakes, so the park out front was as close as we could get. The park was full of people having picnics for Easter, and the sky was blue and beautiful. I think it got up to 68 or so that day, so really idyllic.
The Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge.
After getting our fill of wandering around it, we walked down to the beach at the marina and stuck our toes in the sand and admired the bay, the beautiful weather and the Golden Gate bridge. Both Brian and I had gone over the bridge in previous trips and didn’t want to pay the toll, so we were going to skip that. Except we got stuck in traffic in just a perfect way to force us over it. Alright, then we’ll pull over and take a few pictures. $6 to get back into SF though, eesh. It was $3 the last time I was there. Fernando brought up over dinner that the toll had originally been intended to just cover the cost of building the bridge, which was paid off years ago. But it’s such a good money maker, the toll has stuck.
Brian on Hyde Street.
We had a bit more time to spend that afternoon before we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, so we decided to check out the Hyde Street Bistro on the recommendation of one of Brian’s clients. Except it was closed in preparation for an Easter dinner, so we walked up and down Hyde and ended up going to Nook. I’m glad we did – it was perfect for what we wanted. Brian got a cappacino and I got a glass of Chardonnay. We split artichoke bottoms stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto with a dallop of pesto, a dish I am still craving a few weeks later. Yum. We sat out on the sidewalk and
watched traffic go by. I was as content as I can remember recently.
Headed back to the hotel, and found a parking spot right! out! side! of the hotel, which would save us $30 parking overnight, cool! After thinking about it, we decided to walk to Fernanco and Alicia’s – it was just under a mile, and that way we could walk up Grant Street through Chinatown. Which reminds me, Alicia told me about a great walking tour through Chinatown given by a woman who was born and raised in Chinatown, and I need to get the name from Alicia because I’d love to do that.
Gates to Chinatown, Grant Street, San Francisco.
We walked right by a restaurant I’ve been wanting to eat at for about 15 years, the Stinking Rose (a garlic restaurant? how could I not love that?). We’ll eat there for sure next time we are back.
Their apartment is in North Beach, or it was until this weekend when they moved to a new neighborhood. We walked up the stairs to Coit tower and then walked to dinner at Pesces. It’s a small tapas restaurant in Russian Hill. The drinks were really bad, but once we switched over to wine, it was great. It was fun trying a lot of little things, and the four of us had a great dinner talking about Portland and San Francisco.
It was a work day the next day for both of them, so after a leisurely 2 hour dinner, they caught a cab home and we walked. It was early enough that we didn’t want to call it a night, so we kept our eyes open for some place to get a drink. We ended up at Brick, and had cocktails and scallops, and I wish we had made it back there again (next time). The bartendar was quite charismatic, and it was a great place to hang out at the bar and plot to take over the world.
Alright, almost done, I promise :) We packed a lot into two days in San Francisco, we like to do and see as much as we can when we travel.
I’m actually leaving out all sorts of stuff in interest of actually finishing this post with even one person reading it.
The next day we got up at 7 a.m. to feed the meter so that we wouldn’t get a ticket in our perfect parking spot, and walked across to Sear’s to eat breakfast. We went to the car to get in and discovered that we earned a $50 ticket during breakfast due to street cleaning. ARGH.
We drove to Berkley and wandered around there for a while. We ate lunch on the Berkley campus and then got a latte at Caffe Mediteranium, which is Brian’s favorite coffeeshop anywhere. This is the second time we’ve driven to Berkley just to go to the Med. The Med is known for having invented caffe lattes. No, really!
View in Berkley Heights.
We drove up to Berkley Heights, which is beautiful and has great views. Brian loves to keep going up and up and up to see what he can see here. We parked the car and went for a long walk through the neighborhoods looking at houses and artwork and views.
When we started driving again, we went up some more, and found a park we didn’t even know existed in Berkley Heights – Tilden Park is over 2000 acres. We were greeted by a wild turkey walking along the side of the road when we drove in. As we were driving through, we saw a golf course, a stable, mini steam trains (we thought about riding them but didn’t), chatted with a woman on a horse ride, and saw some magnificent views. Lots of hardcore bikers in this park – I can’t imagine tackling those hills. I’d like to go back and hike there, maybe this fall.
City side of Tilden Park - that's Berkley and Oakland down there, although you can see San Francisco across the Bay too.
Other side of Tilden Park.
After wandering the park, we decided to head back to the hotel to get changed for Leonard Cohen and go to Oakland early to avoid rush hour traffic. We figured we’d grab a bite to eat and relax before the show.
There’s not much around the Paramount Theater in Oakland. Oakland as a whole seems much more bombed out than the last time I was there, and I wasn’t so much in the mood to go too far given that. We found Cafe Madrid close by, which served Spanish food and drinks, so we had a few glasses of rioja and a cheese plate and called it good.
We were starting to see people who looked like they were going to the show, so we went to see if we could get in – turns out they let fans in two hours early, and I am a member of the fan club (and bought the tickets during the pre-sale). The Paramount theater is a beautifully restored art deco theater, really beautiful and maintained. It was strange in the middle of Oakland (if anyone ever wants to tell me about good things to do in Oakland, I’d love to hear it. We were a
bit baffled about how bombed out it is – Brian spent a good week there a few years ago and liked it and was surprised at how much it had changed too).
Leonard Cohen marquee at Paramount Theater, Oakland.
There was a bar downstairs in the area between the mens’ and ladies’ room, so we decided to do that before going to look at the t-shirts. While Brian was in the men’s room, an a cappella choir of men started singing Cohen covers in the men’s bathroom – something that has never happened to Brian before. He had the bathroom to himself otherwise, so he said it was a slightly surreal experience.
Turns out they were the Conspiracy of Beards, and they were there to sing in the lobby for a half hour for fans of Leonard Cohen. They cleared out as soon as everyone else was admitted. Brian and I stood in the lobby, had a glass of wine and listened to them sing. What a cool thing to stumble upon – I’m glad we were early even if we didn’t find much in Oakland to entertain us!
I’m so, so in awe of Leonard Cohen. There are very few Greats I’ve regretted not being able to see, but Leonard Cohen was one of them, and it was soooooo worth it. I love him even more than I did before.
It’s neat because my mom was really into Leonard Cohen when he was young, and she was living in San Francisco, so I grew up seeing his books of poetry and records, but I had never listened to him, and eventually forgot about him. When we were in Madison, Brian took me to see Rufus Wainwright at the Barrymore, who raved about Leonard Cohen, and did a cover of Cohen’s Hallelujah that actually choked me up. So the next time I was at a shop, I picked up an album by Leonard Cohen. Brian and I listened to it while we renovated the upstairs apartment, and I can’t even tell you how many times we listened to that album over the week. It’s said that Leonard Cohen is a perfectionist with his writing, spending years on just one line before he’s satisfied, and it shows.
So seeing Leonard Cohen in San Francisco specifically meant a lot to me – I was able to imagine how my mom felt, seeing him, and feel that connection, on top of a completely brilliant performance by LC. He definitely speaks to me. We tried to buy tickets in Seattle as we drove away from the show that night, but the only tickets still available anywhere are at Chicago, the second night, for $250, which I just can’t justify right now(more the airfare than the tickets).
We got a late start out of the city the next day. We had decided to drive Hwy 101 back, and started out on Hwy 1. An hour later, we were still only about 15 miles from San Francisco – it’s a beautiful drive this way, through eucalyptus groves which smelled heavenly, but waaaay more time than we had.
We cut back over to the I-5 route, and while we were doing that, we saw this van, which I love:
We hit some hard snow in the mountain passes, but luckily, we got through it without having to pull over. Just slowed us down. We also saw a bizarre accident that looked like a small aircraft crashed on into the side of the road, with fire trucks and police surrounding it, but I never saw anything on the news about it. Very odd.
We finally pulled into Portland around 1:30 in the morning – Brian was up for work at 7:30 as usual. Rough, but a really great weekend.
So. I promise to update this again rather than guiltily avoiding it!