Saturday, April 30, 2011

Top Ten Chic Chickpea Encouraged Experiences: Sensational San Francisco

I love San Francisco. Although this city is in no danger of ever needing a hero to herald the beauty and adventure wound through its undulating streets I will nevertheless be happy to volunteer for the position if such a need ever arises. Every time I return to my beloved city by the bay I extend my trip by a few days, hoping that I can satisfy my need for San Francisco enough to tide me over until the next time I return, alas that is not the case and I cannot wait to make my way back.

Here are the Top Ten Chic Chickpea Encouraged Experiences: Sensational San Francisco.
NOTE: This list is by no means exhaustive and will no doubt be revised on my next adventure in Northern California. If you have yet to visit San Francisco - get thyself to the airport and don't forget the flowers for your hair!
ANOTHER NOTE: This post contains a lot of photos. Be prepared to have major San Francisco crushes people.

Number One:
Wander Haight Street on a Sunday afternoon. Go vintage shopping, buy some tie-dye and enjoy the inhabitants who are a living theatre of their own. One Sunday afternoon I got to experience (in the space of three blocks) a graffiti artist at work (this truly was an artwork too), a band performing fabulous acoustic music on their front doorstep, and a chance to step back in time at three different vintage stores.

Number Two:
Take a ferry across the bay and tour Sausalito; poke around in the little artist shops, visit the Italian deli, walk along the promenade and soak up the sun. Remember to have lunch on the water, there are plenty of great restaurants or you can grab a picnic and settle down on a bench and just watch the tide.

Number Three:
Wander the Cliff Path as the sun goes down and then warm up at the Cliff House. I was lucky enough during this trip to walk along the beach at sunset on both a foggy day and a clear day, and each was as beautiful as the other. On the days when the horizon is smoky with mist enjoy being cloaked in the mystery of the ocean and settle yourself with some hot chocolate in the Cliff House. When you chance on a clear evening watch the sun burn itself into the water and bless you with a sunset you will never forget.

Number Four:
Walk up to Coit Tower and watch sunset on the city. Believe me, the stairs and sweat and tears are worth the view. The landmarks of the city spread at your feet like the finest of silk carpets, each street a precious thread to discover leading you to adventures unknown. After this visual meditation on the beauty of the city stagger back down the hill and revive with fabulous Italian food in North Beach.

Number Five:
Visit Ghirardelli Square and stroll back along the piers enjoying views of the bay. Um, Ghirardelli Square. Need I say more really? Just walking into this cocoa coated heaven is enough to take the edge off a chocolate craving. But really why stop there? Go on, have a little piece (or two...). Take a walk along the piers and be tempted at each turn by different flavours and scents and watch the waterfront life.

Number Six:
Make time for Napa Valley and Sonoma and get in touch with the bounty of the land and the beauty of the sunshine. I didn't know that heaven was only and hour and a half from the city, and now I do; from the rolling hills painted gold with flowering mustard in springtime, to the smell of vintage oak wine casks; Napa and Sonoma are a pleasurable assault on every one of your senses.

Number Seven:
Attend a service at Glide Memorial Church. Even if you aren't religious the music is amazing and the good works of this community are worth supporting. Every week they provide countless meals to the homeless of the city amongst other great deeds. All are welcome.

Number Eight:
See what is playing at Castro Theatre and hope that you can attend a sing-a-long night. The energy is amazing and you get to act like a kid again! Apart from great nights like the Wizard of Oz sing-a-long that I attended this historic theatre showcases a variety of films in a movie palace that is all too rare nowadays.

Number Nine:
Walk the city. It is tempting to jump on a trolley car (you have to do it at least once) or a bus, or a train or in a cab, especially given the topography of this deliciously hilly city, but if you walk the streets you will be rewarded with unexpectedly beautiful views (and photo opportunities beyond the normal tourist vistas), dining discoveries (such as the fabulous lunch I had at Cafe International), and toned legs!
View from California St.
 Wandering through Golden Gate Park.
Journey to the Ferry Building
The paper lanterns and colourful buildings of China Town

The streets and blooms of downtown
Number Ten:
Spend at least one night at The Red Victorian or have breakfast in their Peaceful World Cafe. I have never felt so welcomed by the staff of a hotel. This bed and breakfast is owned by a wonderful lady named Sami Sunchild and lies in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury district. The rooms are clean, comfortable and each one reflects a unique part of the quilt of experiences and places that make up San Francisco.

I often think that we are born and raised in one part of the world and it isn't until you travel or really look around you that you realise that your true home is somewhere half way across the world. For me I felt at home the first time I came to San Francisco and I will continue going back to the city because every time I return I unveil another little piece of my soul.
Until next time, I leave part of my heart buried in the middle of Union Square and I promise I'll be back soon San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I would love to visit San Francisco! Foodie mecca.