I started writing this on my first day in the city. I continued and finished it in the days that I had already gotten back. You will notice I marked the dates. This post is about my trip in San Francisco.
I am on vacation currently in San Francisco. It has pretty much been as expected, not at all in a bad way. I can kind of get a feel for the people in the city with the few that I have interacted with. My brother lives in a house with 8 other people it felt like a dormitory for a second. I met one of his roommates and smoked a joint with him. I observed empty bottles of Skyy vodka and Captain Morgan on the floor and a bag of weed with loose backwoods. He told me that he had got fired at his job a couple weeks before for getting in a bar fight. The second guy I saw was a small guy in a jeans a tie and a blazer. The third guy was a small indonesian guy with a mustache. The fourth was a hippie looking gentlemen with dreadlocks, he asked my brother Deveric if he had any toilet paper, he didn’t. All five including my brother had come from different backgrounds and had much different experiences in life. I didn’t even have to talk to them to know. I thought it was funny that Deveric seemed like a mix of all four of those guys mixed together. Despite the dirty kitchen lack of TP and full house the Home sported a balcony with a breathtaking view of SF state and Merced Lake. When you walk out of the front of the house you can see the rolling homes of Southern San Francisco. There was also a nice park that has a few minutes walk away.
After I have left we quickly vacated the residential area and headed Downtown for sushi burritos. It was a swift drive downtown from my brothers house in southern San Francisco. The downtown area of SF is unique in the way the streets are set up. With trolleys and other public transportation running throughout the city. The downtown area was all hustle and bustle, you don’t realize it’s lunch time on a Wednesday when your’e on vacation. The sidewalks were filled with working class people some in suits and ties others in more casual wear. Various office or financial jobs all around the city similar to Los Angeles. The restaurant we went to, Sushirrito, had a line that weaved around the outside of the store.
A lot of people were on their lunch breaks. The restaurant itself displayed the minimalist mindset new restaurants must have when having a location in a booming downtown metropolitan area. It was just one room half of it was customer space with no tables, the other half was a kitchen with 5-7 employees. While we were in line my brother told me about San Francisco POPOS (http://www.spur.org/sites/default/files/migrated/anchors/popos-guide.pdf) which are privately-owned public open space. We attempted to take our lunch to one of these POPOS and our one and only attempt failed with the receptionist in the building saying that they get people asking all the time but they don’t know of anything like that. Our lack of research and preparedness was clear in the failed attempt but we ended up eating lunch in the middle of Union Square. We headed to the hotel after we ate. The Hilton in the financial district is located right next to Chinatown and the Transamerica pyramid. Very central and a great location for a home base. I acquired the hotel through the website Hotwire for a little over 100 dollars a night plus service fees and tax. The room was nice with two beds. We also had a view of the Coit tower which is a staple of the San Francisco skyline.
The fact that the room had two beds removed all doubt that my brother would be staying with me throughout my vacation. There was construction happening on the same floor we were staying which explained why I got the room at such a good rate. There were also other complications with the hotel. We got ready at the hotel then went out to explore the city. After we saw the redwood trees under the Transamerica pyramid we walked through Chinatown. The Chinese community is a huge part of the city. I could feel the culture as soon as I stepped out of the hotel. The park across the street had checker tables that were filled with old chinese men smoking cigarettes and most likely betting on the games. Tiny shops and restaurants line the streets with European tourists filling them.
The lamps hanging over the streets remind you that you have seen this before in the movies and they are a literal representation of how it actually is. The Chinatown in SF is the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia. It makes sense that there is a larger asian community in San Francisco being that it is the gateway to the Pacific. The first stop for asian immigrants on their way into America We walked to the famous gate to take a picture but then proceeded walking towards union square. A theme that I noticed in the city was that the amount of diversity. Compact space leads to a situation where one block is very low income and the next block is very high income. The separation of tax brackets is extreme but the amount of space between the two classes is minimal. We were walking past stores in Chinatown that were selling items for pennies on the dollar, the next block we were walking past Hermes and Gucci stores that require an authorization on your credit card to even walk into the store. It seems like a benefit for the city though. You can tell there is a separation in classes but it is one city, one community especially when there is a focal point for everybody’s energy. Point in case, Giants were playing in the game 7 of the World Series that night. Union square is a nice little area with many tourists congregating, taking pictures and shopping, we spent a few minutes talking and enjoying the views.
On our way back to the room we stopped at a small bar. We had been looking for a place to watch the game last night. We were in the city and we wanted to be around people. The bar was empty but we ordered a beer. We asked the bartender there about the scene for tonight. He said we should stay at his bar and drink but if we left he recommended heading down to AT&T park because there would be bars filled with people there. We decided to take his advice and left to go get ready. On our way out of the bar the bartender didn’t look at us even though we waved. He was bitter we were leaving. He probably shouldn’t have given us such a good recommendation. We had a few drinks at the hotel and watched the first couple innings of the game before we walked to The Embarcadero to hop on the muni which would take us down to the stadium. When we walked out on to the Embarcadero it was beautiful. The sun had just set and the sky was filled with pink and purple hues which set the background for a glistening bay bridge. The way the light bounced off of the bridge made it look as if strings of pearls were holding up the bridge as it swayed in the bay area wind. The first trolley that pulled up wasn’t the right one for us but the driver told us to hop on and gave us directions on which train to take to get to the park. We talked about the game, he didn’t ask us for payment. We went to a bar which one of my friends recommended and I was the only one in the whole place without any Giants gear on. The energy in the room was thick like a cloud of smoke, it was heavy and you could feel the nervous anticipation of everyone in the place. It was a low scoring game, we got there and the score was tied 2-2. The place went crazy when Michael Morse hit an RBI to bring Panda into score and put us up 3-2. Another high point was when Madison Bumgarner came on in the bottom of the 5th to chants of “MVP, MVP”. It was a lock from there, Bumgarner’s laser like focus carried us to the bottom of the 9th inning. With two outs and two strikes, Salvador Perez pops up a foul and Panda catches it, ball game. The place goes nuts, everyone yelling at the top of their lungs high fiving and hugging everyone around you even if they were strangers. Journey-Don’t Stop Believing blared in the background as guys picked up their girlfriends and twirled them around in a circle and kissed them. All the emotion built up through October, the excitement, the happiness in a win, the dread in a loss. The thought of a third championship in five years loomed all month for Giants fans. The whole city was on a precipice, and when Panda caught that pop up for the last out, San Francisco fell into a pit of pure elation. We took a celebratory shot of Hennessy and walked out to the stadium. People had already started filling the streets. Me and my brother took a couple pictures of the stadium considering I had never been there before.
We were a part of it. We grew up watching the Giants with our father. We have always been fans of the Giants and bay area sports. But now it was real. Not that it was fake before, but now I could really feel it. I had seen them win two championships before and I was happy but that was the end of it. This night I was thrust into a celebration that can only be described as once in a lifetime. We all filled the intersection in front of AT&T park chants started everywhere and often. The night was filled with “YES, YES, YES, GIANTS, GIANTS, GIANTS.” It wasn’t raining that night but there were champagne showers. I didn’t mind the raining alcohol and the cigar smoke, I welcomed it and actively participated in the jubilation. The scene was really indescribable, pure happiness comes close.
I will always remember jumping up and down yelling “GIANTS” with hundreds of other San Franciscans while champagne spilled and fireworks popped off above us while AT&T park set the stage. After we had enough yelling and celebrating we decided to walk back to the hotel. Even though we left the party we wasn’t done. Little did we know it wasn’t just outside the park that was going crazy it was the whole city. Every car was honking and waving Giants flags out of their windows. People flooded the streets we ran through the cars high fiving everyone we came across. We took a moment to admire the Bay Bridge at night, it was just as beautiful at night as it was in the sunset. The energy was the same all the way back to the hotel. We got to the hotel around 11:00PM with a bag full of chinese food. We gorged ourselves on Chow Mein and some kind of soup and fell asleep at 11:30. We were high on the win but exhausted from the party. We slept for ten hours straight.
I was expecting a sore throat the next morning but the mystery soup preemptively countered it so I was happy. I found a cafe online, named M cafe, down the street from the hotel. When we walked out in the morning the weather was perfect. It was cloudy and cold and smelled of fresh rain. The wet pavement augmented the crisp weather perfectly and it was the kind of weather I was hoping for when I visited. I put on my hoodie and jacket and left it on the rest of the trip. The cafe was more proof that restaurants downtown must remain simple to survive. One room with a very small customer area and kitchen. At least they had chairs and tables outside. The clientele was synonymous with the type of place it was. A place to get a quick breakfast and coffee at a relatively cheap price before heading to work. I remember thinking that if there were a place like this close to my work I would be there every morning. The menu consisted of bagel sandwiches. I got the lox and onion sandwich and it was quite delightful.
We showered and planned the day out back at the hotel. On the way back to my brothers house we drove on The Embarcadero towards the 280. We drove through the intersection where we were the previous night and it was peculiar seeing it so empty, considering there was a mob of people there the night before. The 280 is a nice drive and there was no traffic so the commute to southern San Francisco was leisurely with nice views. From his place we headed to Steiner st.
This street is famous for its painted ladies.
Painted ladies refers to a method of painting old Victorian houses three or more colors to augment their architectural features. So many times before had i seen these houses, in films in pictures, and now here they were in front of me. They sat there perfectly with the San Francisco skyline and foggy weather behind them. We headed over to Baker beach afterwards. Baker beach is on the southwest corner of the Golden Gate bridge which makes for a majestic view of the bridge. It was a cold and foggy day in the beach so the beach was unattractive to most people that day but I enjoyed it.
I enjoyed the serene feeling of me and my brother walking on a cold and empty beach with the Golden Gate bridge in our view. I didn’t find out it was a nude beach until i saw a man laying on a towel ass out. I thought it was peculiar that he had no pants on but he had a t-shirt on. Like he was cold so he decided to put on a T. “Put some pants on my man its cold out” I thought to myself. We walked closer to the bridge and then to the cypress trees that lined the beach.
Me and my brother had a conversation about imagining war and soldiers trying to take the beach. Something like the scene in Saving Private Ryan when they are trying to take the beach. It was coincidental that on the way back to our car we came across bunkers and a cannon that hinted to a time when our country wasn’t so sure if enemies would try a sea to land take over.
Remnants of times past but still relevant to times present. We left the beach clearly and headed to Lombard street which is the windiest street in the world. The view was amazing the flowers that lined the street were beautiful and colorful and stood out on such a grey day. A multitude of tourists had the same idea we did and were out in throngs with cameras and smiles.
I drove the street down and back towards the hotel. We stopped in little Italy for some mediocre pizza and then headed back. Relaxing at the hotel we waited for some friends who we were going to go out with that night. We ate dinner with them at a chinese restaurant up the street. The food was good but it wasn’t anything that had me rolling. We went to a club called Infusion near Union Square and it was just like any other club and any other night. The only memorable moment came when a random guy asked me and my brother if we were professional dancers. I said “yes” and we kept dancing.
The next morning was Halloween I walked to the same M cafe to grab breakfast sandwiches for everybody. Swift service and great food is all I have to say about that place. We got ready to check out at the hotel. Deveric brought out his scoobie suit. We left the hotel and headed back to Union Square for the Giants parade. It was literally raining on the parade but there was no way some water was going to stop the city from showing up for their team. We were more than willing to bask in the tears of the Dodgers.
It felt like October out there with the rain falling and the autumn leaves. Enhanced by the crowds of people in Orange and black as well as my brother in a Scooby Doo costume taking pictures with fans. The energy was inimitable and traces of Wednesday nights parties still loomed over us. The players came bye two at a time with buses sporting their name and number on the side. I got tingles and goosebumps when I saw Barry Bonds drive by. I still remember watching him break the home run record with my father. Its a shame his legend will be overshadowed by steroids. I just wanted to see Panda, Posey and Bumgarner really. Hunter Pence was going wild and Bruce Bochi had a calm demeanor like he always does even with the World Series trophy right in front of him. He has seen it three times in five years.
We made our way through a sea of Panda hats and playoff beards back to our car. We drove our friends back to their home in Alameda. The oak trees that lined the streets of the quaint little town gave off strong fall vibes as their red and brown leaves were released onto the wet streets. Small rays of sun shone through the dark clouds as we headed to Hercules to visit our aunt Galinda. Her home felt like my home and I immediately fell into a mood of belonging when I got to her house. The scent of candles burning and the fireplace providing warmth to the living room. My cousins have grown to young men since the last time I have seen them. We small talk because I don’t know anything about them but I would like to. We had slow cooked pork tacos and drank root beer and I felt like a kid again. I asked my aunt for the recipe. It was my home. I felt like I never wanted to leave. I was upstairs with my cousin and my brother while they played video games I layed on the bed and looked at the ceiling. Everything was still there. The toys of my uncle who had passed away a few years ago. As I laid there I could feel him. I knew he was watching us and smiling on us and protecting us. When I worry about my cousins growing up without a father I am comforted to know that he is still there and always will be. I am sure they already know this, his presence is so strong. I took a quick nap and we left because we didn’t want to stress out our aunt with us spending the night. Also because I wanted to drive back across the Bay Bridge at night. The lights on the bridge shone bright as we drove across. The San Francisco skyline was looking majestic as ever.
Many of the buildings had installed orange lights at the top of them which made the whole city look orange and black. The view gave us energy for the night. We went to a friends house who lives in the sunset area. It was an artists house. We listened to good music and drank beers and small talked. We took the muni to mission street. We had to avoid getting a ticket for not paying. This was a recurring problem for us. I was always willing to just pay the $2.50. Everyone else felt different. Mission street is long and has the transitional feature that many of the other streets in San Francisco possess. We walked for a few blocks until we encountered a mob of people all in costumes. They all were walking in unison, they had a speaker bumping music so immediately I was there in the crowd. We drank tequila in the streets and made cars detour their route. All of the sudden the crowd stopped and spread out. In the middle of the streets a couple people set up fireworks. BOOM they fire into the air with enormous force and pop off in the sky. Admittedly there was a moment of fright. I knew what could happen if one of them misfired to the wrong place. Everyone was standing so close to them. We departed the mob when the cops came. We walked to a bar that was too crowded but we found a table to sit and we had a beer. I ended up meeting up with some old friends from LA that night. We got too drunk and went to Denny’s. The next morning I made my departure.
Some moments in life you want to put in a bottle and save for later. This whole trip was one of those moments. I enjoyed the scenery and the feeling that the city gave me. I started writing this on the first day when I was in the city. San Francisco gave me inspiration to write. It gave me something I had never experienced before. A whole city was united together in a common goal that they reached. The pure joy of every single person in the city complimented by my own personal joy was something that is hard to match. The city of LA hasn’t produced many championships lately except for the LA Kings, but I am not a big fan of hockey. I have always been a Giants fan and I always will be. Now I have a story to tell. I was there, I am a part of it. The Fall months have always been special to me. Thanks to this trip I have new things to think about when the weather gets colder and the leaves start turning. This was the first time I ever spent time in the city. I always told people I had liked SF without actually having a reason to. Now I have stories to tell, about one of the greatest cities in the world. I felt like I belonged. The gateway to the pacific may have stolen my heart away for some time. I have heard that home is where you make it, I could make San Francisco my home.
This trip really reinvigorated my urge to travel and see the world. What’s next for me? What about for you?