Low energy day. Taking in all the sights, sounds, flavors of this city on the sea is making my head wobbly with the weight of it all. We walk to an in-city park and cultural center where there is a Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Fountain and are heavily misted, body and soul, as we read the great man’s words etched in two-inch glass behind the wall of roaring water. So draining I need a nap. Then more walking to a more industrial part of town, close to the Giants’ stadium, it turns out, to find a brew pub Joe saw in his homebrew magazine. The 21st Amendment. Brew Free or Die. We taste their offerings sitting on a bench in a sunny open window as Giants fans slowly fill in the space around us. Game day. I am fond of the Hell or High Watermelon Wheat which comes with a triangle of fresh watermelon perched on the rim of the glass. Joe has something dark and dangerous looking. We walk off our beers on our way back to home base to freshen up and get dressed for a decadent dinner night. We walk through the impressive financial district, quietly dimmed for the night, taking a breather from its crisis, and take a turn to see a three-story brick building wedged in between modern, efficient structures. Jeanty at Jack’s. A lovely French restaurant built in 1864. Picture of Hemingway standing in front of the restaurant. We sit on the third floor, in an atrium style room, glassed roof over our heads where we strain to see a star. The tomato soup blanketed in a flaky puff pastry dome was heavenly. I will be duplicating it in my own kitchen, to be sure. Perfect romantic evening with my husband, holding hands by candlelight under the star (only one visible), sharing bites of rich French food, being in love and on vacation. It could almost be Paris. Vacation, Day 3.
Before breakfast we are lured across the street to a Martin Lawrence gallery by a Keith Haring print in the window we’ve been walking by daily. Then we’re off to Cafe de la Press, another French-style cafe, for sustenance in the form of poached eggs in red wine and mushroom sauce, (I scooped up every last bit) and blueberry pancakes. I like savory, Joe likes sweet. I am savory, Joe is sweet. We write postcards while sipping our coffee. Our last day and we’re trying to stretch it out. We catch a loaded street car to Lombard, where we muscle our way off and breathe in the sea air cleansing our lungs of the assorted unsavory bus-smells of our fellow passengers. We start climbing the never-ending stairs up the hill to the art deco Coit Tower, and stop to watch a huge flock of wild parrots screaming through the sky. I wonder if they’ve picked up any words. Most likely “step away from the door” from the street cars/buses clanking by below. The 360 degree view from atop the windy tower is worth the mandatory elevator ticket. I see the Golden Gate bridge for the first time, mockingly enshrouded in fog, as we have only been in the sun our entire visit here. We walk down the hill into North Beach again, spend some time in the Beat Museum, and am disheartened that the Dharma Bum tee-shirts, to be Nathan’s gift, are not in stock. Mojitos and a light repast on the sun-drenched sidewalk of an Italian restaurant restore our spirits, though, and we briskly walk back through Chinatown and make a couple of silky purchases. Next stop: the Folsom Street Fair. Touted as San Francisco’s Best Street Fair in the Guardian. We follow our ears to find the throbbing, sometimes thonged, throng of people. A waft of leather and oil enveloped us as we moved among more men, more black leather, more flesh, more corn-on-the-cob and kabobs (seemingly the snacks of choice) than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time ever. My mouth dropped open, my eyes grew big and round, and Joe forgot how to use his camera, suddenly overcome by shyness. I’ve never felt more of a minority, and yet so invisible. On this street, it appears the beatniks and hippies of San Francisco’s past have been overtaken by this culture who have a new interpretation of letting it all hang out. We pass a kiosk selling leather handled, brightly colored umbrellas hanging upside down, only to discover upon closer inspection they are not umbrellas. Unless you can flog the rain away. Things are closing down, though; we’ve caught the tail-end (and more…) of the event, hee hee. We do finally find a gift for Nathan, though. Three-inch spiraled bone colored horns that complement his hair and make him look like Pan. And now, homeward. Vacation, Day 4.