Saturday, September 24, 2011

A tourist look at San Francisco

In our recent visit to Stockton to see our friends Chris and Lori we picked up the movie Vacation at Big Lots. We watched it a week later and I thought about the time my dad drove the family from Colorado to California in our Thunderbird motorhome during the mid-70's. In the eyes of an 8 year-old, the golden state lived up to its' hype; Shamu at Sea World, Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, King Kong at Universal Studios, a boat ride in Long Beach, the beach, and meeting my cool skateboarding cousin who was the same age. It was the best of times. An evening that stood out the most was my mom and Aunt Flora dancing, it was one of the few times I really saw my mom let go. That would be one vacation that I would go back to over and over if life would allow it.           

Ana's dad once won the lottery, nothing too big, but enough to take his family on vacation to Puerto Vallarta. That may have been the only family trips they ever went on. Ana's mom had always wanted to go to San Francisco to ride the cable cars, you can thank Rice-A-Roni -"The San Francisco Treat" for that permanent imprint on the American psyche. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you might not have watched The Price Is Right and avoided television commericals for a several decades if not all your life. If you're still at a loss or need a nostalgic fix click here for a youtube video. Blame the allure of the street cable cars or the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco sounded like a much needed vacation for Ana's parents and sister and we were happy to oblige.     

We arrived too early to check-in to our guest house so we wandered a couple of blocks up to Fisherman's Wharf for some touristic action. Musee Mecanique offers a collection of antique arcade games. I would suggest a visit in the evening to get the full creepy effect. I've must've been to the Bay Area more than a couple a dozen of times and somehow managed to avoid the Wharf area being that it isn't one of my favorite areas of the city. 
If edgy Americana artifacts peek your curiousity then Musee Mecanique is a must.  

I'm not sure what happens in this shady puppet bar scene once your quarters are inserted. 

San Remo Guest House is the place we would call home. Centrally located between Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach and a block from Trader Joe's (one of the perks of staying here). Most of the guests were European and probably accustomed to staying at pensions. Recommended.    
Yup, we unapologetically played tourists with cameras strapped around our necks riding on a red open top double decker bus. The pass was good for 48 hours and was a good way to show Ana's parent's different parts of the city.   
Painted Ladies got the cameras rolling...One passenger made a Full House comment. It is true, the late 80's television program shows the family having a picnic on the lawn of Alamo Square with the historic victorian homes in the TV show's intro.  
Alamo Square sits directly across the from the Painted Ladies and had the skyline view of  downtown.  
Ana's sister said she felt like a dog sticking her head out the window riding across the Golden Gate bridge. 

A windy family portrait. 

A view of the Bay Bridge from Coit Tower. 

A view of Alcatraz and beyond...guess how many places we saw in China Town selling Alcatraz Psycho Ward and Swim Team t-shirts?

The skyline from Telegraph Hill.

In the back of your mind you're hearing the theme song to The Streets of San Francisco, if  you need a gentle reminder of what it sounds like click here.

Living la Vida Rice-A-Roni 

Ana's parents freshening up their chopstick skills.

Grant Street, China Town
Panda Ana and Esther causing trouble. 

Lombard is not only "the most crooked street" but is also home to fake gardeners who dress in pink velour suits trolling around the bushes snipping one leaf at a time. As a bonus this is where all the Russian and Italian tourist gather to take photos of their kids lying on asphalt. 

Tickets for Alcatraz were sold out, but we did a drive-by on the way to Sausalito. 

This Sausalito sensation likes herb (as indicated by his button), but I think the dog likes it more. Sausalito is good for a picnic and stroll and by then you're finished. Poor Ana searched and searched for Sausalito cookies only to find out that it is brand name by Pepperidge Farm. What a gyp.  

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a boat.

Saints Peter and Paul Church is located at 666 Filbert Street across from Washington Square. The Park in the morning is filled with middle-age to older Chinese practicing Tai Chi.  

The Sentinel Building is owned by Francis Ford Coppola who bought it for $500,000 in 1973. Our tour guide said that Apocalypse Now was written there, maybe he meant that Coppola read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness there.   

Radio Habana Social Club in the Mission District has a nice collection of objects attached to the outside.

Spencer doing some tricks at Needles and Pins, a cool little gallery and zine shop.

Nothing says amen like a green church.

Noal is always up for a beer and German food and tonight was no exception. We returned back to Schmidt's for our yearly meal.  

Noal says these food trailers or as I would like to call them "roach coaches" can set you back $75 for a French meal.  We experienced much more that was posted. For one reason or another we didn't pull out the camera to document our visits with Chris, Lori, and Sam in Stockton, Christine in Oakland, and Teff, Rita, and Nelson in Alameda. We are always thankful that our friends made time to visit with us. See you next year. 

1 comment:

  1. I once saw the documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, called "Hearts of Darkness," and apparently Coppola tried to see if he could make it back in '68, with a plan to film it in 'Nam. If true, he must have already had a screenplay by then.