Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ragfields in San Francisco (Day 2 and 3)

Day 2 (Monday 9 June)
Rob left the hotel around 6:45 in the morning for the 10:00am Keynote Address by Steve Jobs; he stood in a “big ass line” (his words) for about 3 hours with 5,000 of his closest friends waiting to get in to the talk.

I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I eventually headed to Chinatown, which is just about a 15 minute walk northeast of where we’re staying. I loved it. It was frenetic and jam-packed with tourists, but it was so cool. Grant Street is row after row of shops, all of which selling mainly the same kind of stuff. I had to use restraint because there were tons of cute little kitschy things I wanted to buy; most everything was really cheap, but we have very little luggage space for the way home. (Note: Little Miss C would have loved Chinatown; there were a lot of pink things and a lot of Hello Kitty).

Gate at the entrance to Chinatown

Red lanterns in Chinatown

At some tea shop I got a mango tapioca iced tea. It was really good, like mango juice. It had these large brown jelly-bean like things at the bottom of the cup; I suppose that was the tapioca. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat it or not. The drink came with a very large straw, so you could not slurp up the tea without getting some of the tapioca pieces as well, so I reasoned that they were edible, but I used caution.

In the afternoon, I came back to the Union Square area (where our hotel is) and got a sourdough veggie Panini for lunch at a little café. It was great. Then I wandered around Nob Hill a little bit, for the first time appreciating just how hilly this city is. Ascending Nob Hill is essentially like climbing a vertical wall. And it was packed with cars, apartments, and shops. I couldn’t believe that people do this every day.

Later in the afternoon I tried to relax but didn’t do a very good job. When Rob got done with the conference around 6:30, he and I went down to Powell and Market and got tickets for the cable car. While we were waiting, we saw one of Rob’s co-workers (who is also here for WWDC) and his wife, so we ended up hanging out with them for the rest of the night. We took the cable car up to Fisherman’s Wharf. The cable car was packed, with people hanging out the sides. Most were tourists, but there were few local people as well. It was kind of a party atmosphere on the cable car. Seriously, everybody gets really excited about cable cars. Passengers are often taking pictures or filming as they ride. And people on the street stop to wave or take pictures as the car goes by. Whenever we met another cable car coming down the other side, there was much cheering. The people on the outside had to scrunch to the sides so that there was room for the 2 cars to meet. The driver was kind of like a tour guide, pointing out attractions as we rode past. It was a little bit like being on a roller coaster… creaking up those giant hills, almost pausing as you get to the top, and then zooming down them while everyone is shouting, “Wheeee!”

Unbeknownst to me, Rob filmed part of the cable car ride.

When we got to Fisherman’s Wharf, we walked around for a while and went to a pier where there is a good viewpoint of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. (Rob and I had actually been here the night before, on our bikes). Then we wandered back to the strip, which actually reminded me a lot of San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. It was lined with restaurant after ridiculously over-priced restaurant, mainly specializing in seafood and fried things. We finally stopped at a place that had linguine with tomato sauce and sat at a table overlooking the bay.

It was freezing when we got done and walked back to catch a cable car on the way home. We got back to the hotel room and crashed for some well-needed sleep.

Day 3 (Tuesday 10 June)
Rob woke up early to go on a bike ride before the conference, and I tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. When that didn’t work, I got up and got ready and then attempted to forage for breakfast but ended up deciding to just wait for Rob to get back from his ride so that I could see him again before he left for the conference. When he was ready to go, we left together, amid the bustle of the San Francisco morning. I went back to Café Taza, where I’d had lunch yesterday, and got a fruit/granola/yogurt cup, which was just about the most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted. There was honey drizzled on top, which was perfection. I could live on that stuff.

After having a good breakfast, I decided to brave the San Francisco bus system and try to make my way to Golden Gate Park, all the way at the west side of town. I’ve always found city bus systems to be intensely confusing. Subways and even vaporetti (as in Venice) are no problem but buses confuse me to no end. I couldn’t find any maps of the bus routes through the city, but after looking at the public transportation system website, I had a vague idea that I could get there on the #5.

Just as I walked up to the bus station, a west-bound #5 pulled up, so I hopped on, put in my money, and away we went. It was cool: I saw the Opera Building and City Hall as we rode past, and before too long, we arrived at the park.

I spent all day wandering around the park. It was a little confusing inside the park; maybe a good map would have helped, but still, the park is huge: supposedly 1,000 acres and its at least 3 miles long. After passing the Conservatory of Flowers and deciding not to go in because there were like 3 school groups of very rowdy children who had just entered, I walked what seemed like forever and finally decided to visit Stow Lake. It was really pretty. There is an island in the middle of the lake called Strawberry Hill, and I climbed to the top of it.

Conservatory of Flowers

Chinese pavilion at Stow Lake

Waterfall at Stow Lake

View from Strawberry Hill

Turtle at Stow Lake

After wandering around Stow Lake for what seemed like hours, I made my way over to the Japanese Tea Gardens, which is pretty much the whole reason why I wanted to go to Golden Gate Park anyway. It just sounded cool. And it was pretty cool. It is supposed to be really zen and relaxing; I think I would have been more relaxed if 1000 other tourists hadn’t been enjoying the zen gardens with me, but it was still cool. Rob called me while I was wandering, which was neat. I think he was surprised that I had actually managed to work up the nerve to take a bus over there. When I was done wandering around the gardens, I decided that the tour would not be complete unless went to the tea room for refreshment. Besides, it was 2pm and I hadn’t had lunch. It was a bit crowded in there, but I found a little table and a waitress in a kimono came up to me and said, “Tea for one?” which sounded kind of sad, but I nodded. I got a jasmine tea that came with some little cracker type things and some really good little cookies. The lunch of champions.

After the tea gardens I wandered around the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Garden until I thought my legs were going to fall off (and this is really saying a lot, considering that I am a marathon runner). It was cool, but again, a map would have helped because there were about a million winding, intertwining paths in which one could conceivably become irretrievably lost.

This actually may have happened to me for a while, but I eventually emerged at a completely different side of the park that I thought I would be at. By that point, I was really tired and beginning to steel myself for a possible 3 or 4-mile walk home if I could not figure out where to catch a bus. I eventually got myself back to where I had entered the park and started walking along the bus route. After just a few blocks, I was nearing a bus stop when an east-bound #5 pulled up. Score. I jumped on the bus and fumbled for money as we pulled away. I ended up right back where I had boarded this morning.

Dodging crowds of people, I made it back to the hotel, where I am resting and regrouping until Rob gets done with the conference for the day and we’re off for our next adventure.

Phew, what a long one. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Where do I begin........ from the time you 'hopped ' on the bus , til your return., I felt like I was beside you the whole time...... The photos are incredible.....The VIEW of the GGB from STRAWBERRY HILL, should be in a TOUR GUIDE BOOK, ( along with the others.) and the TURTLE shot should be in a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC... and the IRIS, always snap the iris----- How exciting you are there with Rob to share....... I LOVED his VIDEO of the cable car ride,,,,,, can't imagine how you did it without getting 'motion sick'.. YIKES< however I found it quite thrilling and funny, maybe in my next life , I'll drive a CABLE CAR!!!!!!!-:) Thanks for sharing your day 2 and 3 with us, and I can't WAIT for all the rest of the days adventures!!!!!!! ENJOY , ENJOY and KEEP the blog going........ til later, luv you both, foxy mama

Anonymous said...



Here's hoping you enjoy the rest of your trip!

Anonymous said...

Big City -- Little Girl ... you are very brave!!! How did bus #5 know to just show up when you needed it??? Loved hearing all your adventures ... will be waiting for more!
hugs, auntie

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures, Melissa. What camera are you using? I think I need one for myself!


amypfan said...

Glad to hear the trip got better! I love the pictures. We did many of those same things when we were in San Francisco on our cross-country road trip; I really liked it there. But, just to set the record straight, I seem to recall a few problems with the Venetian vaporettis as well....