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Saturday, June 27, 2009


I didn't leave my heart in San Francisco; I left my breath. Nor did I wear flowers in my hair, but I did see a lot of the “gentle people” passed out in the park, sleeping against the sides of buildings, and causing delays on the cable cars. Still, San Francisco is one of the most interesting and diverse cities in America and should be on everyone's must see list. No matter what you’re looking for, San Francisco has it. It also has a mythic romance surrounding its history and behaviors—the subject of movies and songs and political shenanigans. We may be way past “the summer of love,” and the cost of living in San Francisco no longer invites disenchanted youth, but there are enough remnants around this liberal city by the Bay to maintain San Francisco's unique status. Rob and I were last in San Francisco in 1971. A whole lot of water has flowed under the Golden Gate since then!

As I said, San Francisco is a city of hills, and these are the cause of both wonder and aggravation.

[note here that the windows are level ! That's how steep this street is]

[Lombard Street--that famous winding street--look how steep!]

San Francisco's distinct neighborhoods allow us to choose a hotel near places we want to see, ample transportation, and as much downhill as possible. You won't be allowed to forget once you're there that San Francisco is a city built on hills—steep hills, and I've got the photos to prove it! Get yourself a guide book. I used Frommer's. Plan carefully so your hotel and itinerary places you within access to the excellent transportation system..

Rob and I stayed at Petite Auberge in the Union Square area, and it was perfect for us. Within walking distance (downhill) to China Town and Market Street, we were also able to catch cable cars to other parts of the city. We could catch a cable car taking us above our hotel so we could walk down to it. Sad for me, but when I had to walk uphill, I also had to stop to catch my breath. San Francisco has a wonderful, accessible public transportation system, so don't even think about renting a car.

The day we arrive is the big weekly Farmers' Market held outside the Ferry Building, a gourmet marketplace, so the afternoon finds us back down to the Embarcadero. We walk down to Market Street, down to Powell, and catch the cable car. Neat! Market and Powell is also the location of the Visitor's Center and it's a good time to pick up brochures and info to smooth the rough edges of the trip.

Cable Car Ferry Building

It's a glorious day, and the stalls are filled with ripe fruits and vegetables, crafts and art, cheese and baked goods stands, and vendors of every kind. It's perfect!
Market Farmers Market

We nibble our way through, listen to the itinerant musicians sitting on the pilings of San Francisco Bay, view the craft stalls—representing the '60s through today. In San Francisco, tie-dying is still taken very seriously, and the artists look as if they've stepped out of a Woodstock retrospective.
Musician Musician

Crafts Crafts

Venice Beach is conservative next to this. The place does make me smile. My favorite craft tent features items made from old typewriter keys. The crowd is pleasant, easy-moving, and very laid-back. We explore the Ferry Building and its temptations—caviar tasting and a host of other delicacies.
Next month I'll tell you about three great tours we took and the delightful time we had!

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