It’s late. I’ll try to make this short, although I’m not sure how well I’ll succeed. It’s 11.35pm, and the kids are up drawing in their hotel bedroom – their body clocks (and mine) are still on Australian time. Every night we try to make it a little earlier, but that’s the way of holidays too: late nights and sleep ins and precious little in the way of routine. It’s been lovely. I’m kinda tired now though. Here’s a brief rundown, mostly in pictures, of what we’ve been doing and where we’ve been.
Our house in San Francisco was a small piece of wonder. Located in the Mission District, which is apparently the oldest area of SF, it was an old house filled with art works, curios, books and collectibles enough to make me drool, and wish I could stay a month and simply dream and read.
Yes, that is an oil painting hanging in a toilet. Yes, that is a stuffed pheasant. There was a bison’s head and a deer’s head as well. And a five-foot crudely carved crucifix. I loved it.
And there were friends! The reason we came to San Francisco was to see Steve and Theresa and their girls, and we had such a wonderful time catching up with them. If people make a place, then they made San Francisco for us. We did the tourist thing as well though (of course!) and made our way down to Pier 39. I was shocked by the contrast between “regular” San Francisco and the tourist version (OMG so many TOURISTS!), and felt very privileged to be able to see both sides. Regular side is grottier, of course, and with many, MANY less white people. It’s a fascinating city, and I found the architecture and layout quite unique. There are no suburbs, just masses and masses of city. No front gardens. All the houses joined up for block after block after block. Flat roofs. Dense, dense housing. And the hills!
You may notice the no parking sign. They were really common. We were told that parking is atrociously hard in SF, and it’s true! You are allowed to park in your garage, but not in your driveway (the part of the footpath/sidewalk leading up to your garage), or you could be up for a $350 ticket. You can park on the street, but not on Tuesday mornings (here, other days elsewhere) when they clean the streets. No idea where you have to put your car when they’re cleaning though…maybe you just have to drive around until it’s time to come home again.
Yes, those brown things are seals. Live, smelly, noisy, honking ones. The story goes that the city built a marina for the boats and the seals just took it over. No joke. It’s a tourist attraction in it’s own right. Off to the right (outside the frame of the photo) is the Golden Gate Bridge, and further around, in the bay, is Alcatraz. Pier 39 is full of shops, restaurants, tourist attractions, you name it, it’s there.
Yes, even a fictional Shrimp company. Check out all those people! This was on a Thursday, and after peak season too.
And an Aquarium! The boys spent their money in the gift shop, and we’ve now welcomed to our family a fluffy sting ray, and a fluffy octopus. An ugly creature, really, but highly intelligent. And, so it seems, a great companion when you’re 4.
So there you have it for San Francisco. A city well worth a visit, but when even the taxi drivers tell you not to drive there you realise you’ve got to take that seriously. We did…after we got our rental car. But it’s late, and that, my friends, is another story.