Thursday, March 5, 2015

48 hours frolicking around the Frisco Bay

“The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misplaced even the four-letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers. Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those left behind filed desultory missing- persons reports, then moved on themselves.” -Joan Didion

I read Didion's 1960s version of San Francisco in grad school, knowing full well that my 2000s San Francisco would be nothing like hers. As of last November, San Francisco (and surrounding areas Los Gatos, Redwood City, Saratoga and Los Altos) is the most expensive housing market in the U.S. A one-bedroom apartment rental (median) costs $3,120, the unemployment rate is around 4.6% and tech is the No.1 industry in the city. I may've only been there twice, but I'd move happily for $100-150k (supposed salary range for people in SF with Master's degrees).

Although finance and tech interest me, I am by no means an expert. I do my research, when visiting or considering a move to a new place, but not quite with the same meticulousness that I employ while researching restaurants and coffee shops, wine bars, thrift stores and sights that aren't overcrowded, and both tourists and locals alike can enjoy. Two short trips in and I still have a long list of things to do, places to eat, etc. 

Highlights from my first SF trip, a 28-hour vacation last year, in which I was riddled with some sort of terrible stomach flu: I saw sea lions at Pier 39Alcatraz (from afar), rode the trolley and my queasiness calmed down long enough to semi-enjoy a few bites of Spanish food at Zarzuela, one of the "best tapas restaurants in the US" according to Travel & Leisure. We stayed at the Clift near Union Square (didn't make it to the hotel bar/lounge--which was poppin--because, duh, I had that flu), went to a tea tasting at Red Blossom Tea Company in Chinatown, and our rental car took a dump at the Golden Gate Bridge. I also had a strange experience at Loved to Death on Haight Ashbury, in which I started sweating the minute I crossed the threshold on the store's second level. One of the girls I was traveling with actually walked upstairs with me, and immediately bolted. Said she felt really weird and had to get outside ASAP. Spirits, perhaps? I still bought a really cool catchall plate with some kind of sea creature on it, that now sits on my coffee table and holds some rings and miscellaneous things. 

This trip was a little longer, about 48 hours, but felt as if it went by even faster than the first. We did a lot. This is what I remember and would do again:

The Little Chihuahua in the Noe Valley for tacos and margaritas that taste like Juicy Juice (if Juicy Juice had tequila in it). The Nite Capa fun little bar in the Tenderloin, where there was a french bulldog with rave lights around his neck, and a bartender who may have tried to swindle us out of a drink by--after collecting her money--passing over three glasses of whiskey, one empty, two full. 

Picked up a coffee at Sightglass Coffee in the Mission and went next door for grilled cheese and roast beef sandwiches on Salumeria's airy, light-filled back patio. Perused rows of pricey mugs and blankets at Heath Ceramics; bought a little brown sugar cookbook for my friend Casey so she can (continue to) try new recipes and use me as her taste-tester.

Gawked at the ruins that are the Sutro Baths, and took a brisk little walk up a flight of stairs that leads you to a pretty cool view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Contemplated how many people have jumped off and how likely it would be to jump and not die. 

Lightened the mood with a Cava and oyster break at Hog Island Oyster Co. on the piers and then it was nap time, which was followed by a hip hop playlist plus a photo booth and family style plates of spaghetti and meatballs at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack in the Mission. 

I don't have much to say about my last day in San Francisco, except that I wish it would've lasted longer. I had a mint mojito (it's the name of a coffee--which was pretty good, minus the mint leaves I kept almost choking on--and no, it does not have alcohol) from Peet's and we drove out to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire near Oakland, where we spent a good amount of time--maybe too much time--browsing through old books and pins, fur coats and other curiosities. 

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