Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Don't Stand Behind the Gripman

As promised, I am finally going to tell some stories from my vacation.

We arrived in San Fran on a Friday night. Our plane had been delayed on the way out but they made up the time in the air. The flight still sucked. Coach always sucks.

We arrived late on a Friday night, grabbed our luggage and went outside to find our ride -- one of those vans that charges per person. We ended up being the only people in the van so that was cool - it was like a really comfortable cab ride, but cost way less. We got to our hotel and were pleasantly surprised. We had found it on and knew nothing about the place til we got there. The room was kind of small but we didn't plan on spending much time there so that wasn't a problem. In fact, as soon as we checked in and dropped off our stuff, we headed right out. We went to some bar called Whiskey & Thieves near the hotel. Cool place: good crowd, good music, cheap beer and you could smoke. Having been used to NYC bars, that was a nice change. I know, I know - smoking is a disgusting habit, but whatever. I like it and it was nice being able to do it indoors over a cold one. We stayed at the bar til it closed and stumbled back to our hotel.

The next day, we made a plan to see as much of the City as we could without getting on one of those stupid tour buses. I hate those stupid buses. Instead, we rode the cable car from Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf and laughed our asses off at the tourists who kept standing behind the gripman - in obvious disregard of the blatant language on the man's vest. And yes, I realize I was a tourist too, but we were not nearly as ignorant as most. Again, having lived in NYC, hating tourists, and knowing how not to act like one, was second nature to us. And yes, I realize the Wharf is a tourist trap, but like I already said, we were tourists, just not assholes.

Anyway, we hopped off the cable car at the top of the crookedest street in the world. While walking down to the Wharf we spotted this thing called a "Go Car" -- after realizing it wasn't too pricey, we rented one, hopped in, got our picture taken, and took off for a GPS guided tour of San Fran. And no - I didn't put the picture of us in the Go Car here because, well, I look like a dork 'cause they make you wear a helmet. So off we go, zipping around the city at a top speed of...30 miles per hour. Not Indy, but in these things, fast enough. We got to see a good part of the city, including the Golden Gate shrouded in fog, but while we were turning into Golden Gate Park, our GPS stoppped working. After several seriously aggravating calls to the rental place, we learned it wasn't coming back on and had to find our own way back to the Wharf. Which we eventually did, after giving up trying to climb the hill to Twin Peaks -- the Go Car just didn't have the muscle for it. Needless to say, we got back to the rental place safe & sound - having thoroughly enjoyed our tour. We even got a discount due to the defective GPS. But later that night was when the real San Fran experience happened...

After checking out the Wharf area, and eating at Joe's, we stopped at the hotel to shower and change and then off we went to Haight-Ashbury for the night. By the way - if you are ever traveling to San Fran in July, bring a sweater. And some jeans. And maybe even a scarf. Because it is fucking cold there at night. And nobody warned us. Not even our friend who used to live there. Thanks, dickhead. (fyi - that's not an insult, its a nickname).

Anyway, we grabbed a cab to the Haight and hit some bar with a sweet backyard. Before long, we had made friends with some locals, mostly thanks to DH who can strike up a convo with just about anyone. The folks we met were uber-friendly (uber - that's my new San Fran word) and we decided we loved this city. As the bar was closing, our new friend Patrick invited us to his place for more drinks. Who were we to say no. By 2AM, this is the best part, we found ourselves drinking beers (and partaking of other party substances - wink, wink) while looking out Patrick's living room window over the corner of Haight & Ashbury. That's right - the actual corner of Haight & Ashbury. In a apartment. With big picture windows. I know, it sounds unbelievable -- we get to the city not knowing a soul and in about 24 hours we're hanging out, literally, at Haight-Ashbury--unbelievable, but its true. Of course I don't have pictures to prove it. Despite my usually being a picture taking freak, I didn't bring the camera that night. But we were there - until almost dawn!! - and it was fucking awesome. I think maybe it was karma's way of paying us back for the GPS debacle. Of course the Haight ain't what it used to be (or so I've been told). Staring out over the corner of Haight & Ashbury, besides us, was a Gap, a Ben & Jerrys, and some other corporate outlet. DH thinks it was Starbucks, but I can't remember and their website doesn't show one there. Whatever...Starbucks, WiIlliams Sonoma, it was some neighborhood culture sucking monster. But is was still too cool for words. Even if you don't believe me. I went to bed that night (well actually, the next morning) with dreams of flower children and the astonishing looks my friends would give me when I told them this story.

The next day, Sunday, we were a little spent. Staying out partying til 5 or 6AM is not exactly our usual M.O. But since it was our last day, we forced ourselves out of bed and intothe city. We rode one of the antique streetcars to p[cik up some tees at the San Fran Harley shop and then headed to Chinatown. Mostly we wandered the shops and had a fucking fantastic meal at Empress of China (if you like Chinese and are ever in San Fran, you have to eat there. Try the Walnut Prawns. I can only describe the dish as orgasmic). My favorite part of the day, however, was the "Wake Up America" man (see pic). I know you can't really read his signs in the pic, but this was a man after my own heart. His signs basically say Bush is a liar , that the neo-con-Christians who are trying to run this country know nothing of God's love (otherwise they wouldn't support war or Bush the liar), and that Amerca should be ashamed of it all. Goddess bless that man!

So that's our San Fran trip in as few words as I can manage (if you're reading this and know me well, you know I am not exactly a person of few words). We didn't go out that last night - the night before had wiped us out. Plus, we had to catch an early flight to Maui the next morn. Which we did. And which I will ramble on about another time. Until then, remember, don't stand behind the gripman or people will laugh at you.

Oh - and if anyone knows how to get rid of date stamps on pics, please comment here and let me know. I included them by accident and they really piss me off.


durban bud said...

I'm surprised you haven't been there before. It's totally YOUR type of city. I love it there. We always try to make it there once a year.

The weather is always hit or miss. It totally sucked last time we were there (in March). Best weather we ever had there was one time in November. Beautiful, sunny and in the 70's.

You and I together in San Fran could be a good time. ;-)

BTW - Look for a "turn clock off button" on your camera.

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stina said...

D-Bud - I'd love to go to San Fran with you!!

And re: the date stamp -- I was able to turn it off for future pics, but I'm trying to erase it from pics its already on. Any help?

TOS said...

Neat pic of the fog - it can be kindof spooky at night if you are out on the street alone and it rolls in - almost like in the Thriller video.

My bro lives in the Mission - I am dying to go visit, I was not out when I went back in 1998, 1999 so I need to kidnap Dbud so we can go eat sushi until we pass out. Wanna come?

For pics you already have you can photoshop it out as long as the background behind it is something non-descript (I use the 'clone' tool when possible)

stina said...

thanks tos. And yes - I wanna go!