Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 4 in San Francisco - La Boulange, Streetcar, Twin Peaks, Lunar Perigee, Sotto Mare

On Saturday morning I got breakfast at La Boulange again. I really love this place, it's got a fun atmosphere and the "Fantastic French Toast" is worth returning for again and again! I got a large coffee, which came in a BOWL (literally, it had no handle) and enjoyed my breakfast in the corner.

After that I returned to the apartment and caught my friend Matt on MSN Messenger. We talked about Coit Tower because he'd never been there, but he recommended Twin Peaks for the best view of the city. I hadn't even heard of this before, so I looked it up and charted a course.

I had meant to take the cable car on Powell Street to Market Street, but I ended up walking the entire route without seeing one. Then I waited on Market Street for a streetcar to arrive and it took *forever* ... when one finally showed up, it was packed! I got on and found a seat near the back. This took me to Church Street where I transferred to a bus that climbed the steep hill. Near the top of the hill, I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way. This was difficult because it's a residential neighborhood and you can't cut though the yards. I managed to find my way to a staircase with a sign that indicated which way to go to the summit. By the time I reached the top, I was *exhausted* and realizing how out of shape I am!!

Well I knew the moon was full and it would be rising shortly, but I didn't think I'd arrive this late. So thanks to my poor planning, I was late enough that the sun was going down and I got a special treat. Not only was it the first full moon of the year, but it was at perigee, which means it is closer and "bigger" than any other time of the month. The full moon and the lunar perigee don't always occur on the same night, so this really is a rare and special treat. I shutterbugged for a couple hours freezing my butt off and having a dangerously full bladder, but it was all worth it.

Once the sun was completely down and the moon completely up, I wandered back off the hill and started to look for a way back to the apartment. According to google maps on my phone, there was a train stop nearby, so I walked in the direction the phone told me to go. After stopping for a quick potty break, I discovered the train station and took a number of escalators down into what seemed like the center of the mountain. Here was a subway hidden from sight... rumbling across the San Francisco Peninsula. I hopped on and took it to Powell Street where I was able to catch the Cable Car back to Chinatown and North Beach.

After washing up and looking at my photos on the computer, I went across the street to a restaurant called Sotto Mare. This place was recommended by some folks on Yelp and since it was so close I decided to give it a try. I started off with a half dozen east coast oysters from Beau Soleil. For my main I chose the grilled sand dabs, which is a local flouder-type of fish. I also had a bowl of their "famous" clam chowder was was incredibly delicious. All this was accompanied by their house red, which was Three Thieves Syrah. This was funny to me because I used to work for one of the "Three Thieves" (thief three to be exact) in the 90s!

After dinner I shuffled back to the apartment and drifted off to sleep. The sounds of fog horns in the bay were a soft lullaby that helped me to become... San Franciscan. Now I understand what draws people here, why people ignore the earthquakes and the hills. I can feel why people look past the unpredictable climate and the high cost of living. I know what drives people to spend millions of dollars on what amounts to closet-space in lesser cities. This is San Francisco, and there's no place else like it on earth! I knew before I ever visited that I would love it, but my expectations have all been surpassed. The excitement I used to get listening to Chicago through an open window on a hot summer night hits me full force in San Francisco. The sounds of the city are magical and romantic. A fog horn and a bell in the Bay. People laughing as they leave the bars. The damp breeze from the Pacific made crisp as it floats over the hills... I will always want to come back to this place.


Lica Lee said...

Three thieves wine! Rodger! Brookfield show home, Y2K in a 6x6 room, dick at nite in Orlando, CBS58 fainting couch, that old Allis Chalmers machine on the beams...

I swear that thing moved when no one was looking.

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