The first day was spent on jet lag, shopping for cooler clothes, because the weather was gorgeous – warm, clear and sunny, no fog at all for the first 3 days. There was also some general debauchery, including a few stops along the Polk St. Pub Crawl, and ending with a fantastic meal at a place called O’Reilly’s Holy Grail, which featured high-end versions of traditional Irish cuisine, among other things (I’ve got to learn how to make that Guinness and onion lentil stew that was holding up that hunk of halibut I ordered). I don’t know if there were any good pictures from that day or not – haven’t looked at the camera yet.
But, by coincidence, the next day was the Gay Pride Parade. It started with hundreds of lesbians on motorcycles – or as they call it, Dykes On Bikes:
There were, like I said, hundreds of motorcycles, with women dressed in everything from bridal gowns, tuxedos, and business suits, to traditional biker gear, to French Maid outfits to nothing at all.
That was followed by Mikes On Bikes:
… a bunch of guys all named Mike? I did not verify.
Here’s Senator and presidential candidate, Mike Gravel:
I also have a couple pictures of the back of George Takei (a.k.a. Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek) – sadly, the famous people wanted to look at the other side of the street when they went by me.
We hung out for a couple of hours, watching the zaniness and appreciating the liberal attitude towards drugs enjoyed by both the people and the police in the area. A good time.
Then dinner at a great place called Aqua (thanks, Ugh), which was easily the most sophisticated place at which we’d ever eaten. The food was great, but the presentation was incredible; nearly every dish required one or more waiters to stir, chop, pour or mince one or more components in front of you, and nothing was presented without a full explanation of its composition and preparation. For example, I ordered a tuna tartare appetizer; when it came out, there was a large rectangle of chopped raw tuna (there must’ve been a pound of tuna there, literally – here’s the recipe!) with a yolk from a quail egg on top, and six or seven smaller piles of things like lemon confit, almonds, spices, chopped shallots, etc.. The waiter carefully explained each pile (including the composition of the light dusting of spice around the plate), then carefully mixed it all together for a minute or so. Then he arranged it back into the nice rectangle the tuna started out as. Another waiter mixed my wife’s soup ingredients for her at the table – completely unnecessary, but fun, nonetheless. Everything was like that. It sounds fussy, but it was actually very elegant, and absolutely delicious – except the sardine amuses-bouche; I don’t like sardines.
I’m 75% convinced that we were seated next to Walter Cronkite. I couldn’t hear his voice, to be sure, though.
Next day, we took a trip to the Haight-Ashbury section, the epicenter of the 1960′s hippy scene.
It’s pretty tame, these days. There are a few t-shirt stores, a few head shops, a good brewpub and bunch of restaurants (we really liked Bia’s, and it’s cute little back patio area – get the stuffed pepper!). There weren’t any flower children, no stoned hippies with guitars, not even much about the events of 40 years ago, outside of the trinket and t-shirt stores. Even the house the Grateful Dead lived in is just another cute (purple) house with no outward indication of its history. I guess I’d be bummed out if it was all a giant tacky Hippie Theme Park, but I thought there’d be a few plaques or historic markers or whatever…? Still, it was a nice place to spend an afternoon.
Then, of course, we had an Alcatraz tour the next day:
That was interesting and kind of creepy.
You know that bit in National Lampoon’s European Vacation where they’re driving around London, trapped in a traffic circle and they keep passing Big Ben, and Chevy Chase says, each time it goes by, “Look kids, Big Ben! … There’s Parliament!” ? Alcatraz is like that, and the Golden Gate bridge even more so – you see it once and it’s exciting, then you see it a thousand more times as you’re doing other things, because a lot of the touristy stuff in SF is near them. We must’ve said “Look Kids, Alcatraz!” a hundred times.
And then, across The Bridge, and off to wine country:
San Francisco is a great city. If we could afford to live there (in the manner in which we are accustomed), we probably would.
Maybe more later…