Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tales of the city

A delayed train meant I arrived here in San Francisco at midnight on Friday night.  Collapsing into the hostel bed and enjoying the novelty of being on solid ground, I slept like a log and woke to find I'd slept through my alarm and therefore would miss the walking tour I was booked on.  Oops.  One quick call and I'd rebooked for Monday, so instead joined the hostel walking tour to acquaint myself with the local neighbourhood (or so I thought). 

A three mile march through Chinatown, North Beach, up to the Coit Tower and down to Embarcadero and the piers ensued, not quite the short stroll I had envisaged.  The tour was a good opportunity to get to know a few other travellers from the hostel, though, and after being left at Pier 39 we went to get some clam chowder for lunch.  Served in a huge sourdough bread roll (a bit like bunny chow, for my South African readers) the chowder was delicious: creamy and packed with seafood.  The sun was out, so we wandered along the pier and watched the sea lions basking in the sun and gazed across the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin headlands and to Alcatraz sitting in the middle of the water.

Yesterday took me to Golden Gate Park and on to the Haight district.  A quick visit to Amoeba records (quick because Richard arrives on Monday and will definitely want to shop there) threw up Wild Beasts' Two Dancers  for $1.99 and Resolver by Veruca Salt for $1!  The Haight reminded me a bit of Camden in London: tons of tourists, lots of drug casualties and homeless people, hippy shops and the smell of incense wafting around.  It was interesting to think about what it must have been like in 1967 but it's been thoroughly commercialised now.

Today I've been 'Cruising The Castro' on a walking tour which covered lots about LGBT history in San Francisco.  From the Castro, I walked to the Mission district down the hill and hit book gold at Dog-Eared Books (what a great name for a bookstore) where I found a Kristin Hersh autobiography I've been wanting for a while.  Community Thrifted is just up the road and if I'd realised everything was 50% off I could have come out at least 5 books heavier.  As it was, I limited myself to Out Of The Ordinary: Essays On Growing Up With Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Parents and a book about books.  Together, they set me back a whole $1.09. 

Now I'm waiting for lil' brother Richard to arrive later tonight.  I've been travelling on my own since leaving New York and really enjoyed it but it will be good to have someone to share all these sights and sounds with.

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