Travel tales

My love affair with California began when I was 19–true puppy love. In
1953 I spent a great 3 weeks with aunts, uncles and cousins in Los
Angeles. I loved the weather; I loved the sights; I loved the
celebrities I almost met; I loved all the special treatment I got as a
guest. That was the beginning. My honeymoon, in 1955, was a five week
road trip to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and brief stops in
other fantastic places. Again a wonderful experience. Although I loved
San Francisco I found it somewhat uncomfortable; women were still
wearing hats and white gloves in public. Inspired by all that love and
sunshine we moved to Sunnyvale, 40 miles south of San Francisco, in
1957; slowly, as with most love affairs, reality began to set in.
Sunnyvale was not San Francisco, which continued to have great appeal
for me, even though I felt moderately inadequate because the hat and
white glove thing was still de rigueur.  We moved back
to Chicago 2 years later, and I’ve returned to San Francisco many times. I
enjoy visiting here, but I must confess the love affair ended years ago
— only a bit of nostalgia remains.

Robin has a meeting here in May, every year. I came with her two
years ago after an absence of many years. When we came to SF in the
past I always felt the entire city was on an endless holiday, even
people who lived and worked here. Two years ago I realized that was no
longer the case. Non-tourist people here seem just as tense and
stressed as they do in New York, but without the amazing energy that
typifies New Yorkers. Maybe I was naive years ago, but this was before
the area south of Market Street was cleaned up and gentrified, and
before the homeless people were all over the tourist areas of the city, and before the cost of living was so astronomical.
But enough complaining. I’m having a good time — it’s just not the

We flew out here late Sunday and were blown over by the hotel: talk
about over-the-top decor. The first thing was this fountain with the
rubber ducks.

I never took pictures of the lobby; I didn’t know where
to begin. This is the hallway.

One wall of our room: note the zebra
stripe headboards and the bunny ear pillows.Library_5102

The other three walls of the room are white, mercifully.

Down the
street from the hotel and unavoidable was Farinelli Antiques and Fine
Arts. Library_5174
I kept wondering who buys this stuff and what would you do with


The lions were moved inside every night. Library_5173
I was hoping to witness
the moving procedure but was always too early or too late.

The hotel is just outside the Chinatown gate. I went into Chinatown
Monday morning looking for dim sum breakfast and finally found one
place just opening that advertised "all you can eat" dim sum for $5.99.
The best way to have dim sum is to share with at least three other
people; dishes always come with three or four pieces. This time I was
able to choose just one or two of each kind, so I had a nice selection.
The proprietor was very nice; kept urging me to have more. When I
begged off he told me to come back and it would be free — I obviously
didn’t eat enough.


I walked down Jackson Library_5079
toward the TransAmerica building and found TransAmerica Park, a lovely respite amid all the tall buildings. Library_5084



Here are some of the buildings I particularly liked. I think SF does a fine job of integrating new with the old.Library_5082




Then I went out to the Mission District. Somehow, I had gotten the
impression, probably from the internet, there would be a Cinco de Mayo
celebration, this being the fifth of May. No celebration, but an
interesting place to walk around. Library_5101

Mission Dolores is a beautiful place.
I was amazed to find a Lutheran church and a synagogue on opposite
corners — a sacred intersection.



For lunch I had a Guatemalan taco
from a street vendor at 16th and Mission. Good stuff: I should have had
two of them. Also found a great fabric shop. Maybe people here still
sew; they don’t seem to in Pittsburgh.

I took 178 photos in my week in San Francisco. Be prepared for lots more to come.

7 thoughts on “Travel tales

  1. Fantastic photos and posts! I sure will be looking forward to more pictures, as it was like an armchair visit of my own without driving or flying! Haven’t been to SF for real for a very long time, but maybe in late summer we’ll be driving through on a road trip we’re both looking forward to.

  2. What a fantastic pictorial review of your trip…there is a lot of concrete though…here in Chattanooga, it is really lush…don’t know that I could live so urban anymore…

  3. All the concrete bothered me, also. Especially coming from Pittsburgh, which is lush, green and almost tropical looking at this time of year.

  4. Love the pictures. Thank you. We have a planned one night stop in the City on our way through to Comptche this fall. I loved the imagination of this place, and I hope to find it still there.
    Yes, please, lots more pictures.

  5. Hmmmm, I wonder if that’s why I haven’t enjoyed SF all that much on recent trips there (two in the last 5 years or so).
    One thing that struck me was that while the city enjoys a gorgeous setting (the Bay, the ocean, the mountains, the Golden Gate bridge), the city itself was overwhelmingly concrete. It was almost as if city planners decided that the scenery obviated the need for city parks, beach access, etc. So walking around the city (my favorite way to explore a new place) was actually a little stressful – there was never any place to stop and rest, look around, and simply take things in.

  6. Sewing (and knitting in particular) are seeing a renaissance in general, including in Pittsburgh. Lots of young folks doing DIY and making over old clothes into hip new fashion. There are some great vintage fabrics to be had at some of the shops on Ellsworth.
    I adore SF for both the art and the tech scene. Good food. Gorgeous architecture. But I have to totally agree that a lot of the joie de vivre is gone. It’s a very tense town.
    Looking forward to seeing more pictures of your trip!

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