In the late 90s, (seems like a lifetime ago) I spent about 2 years living in the Bay Area. My dad was woking there and I took the opportunity to live with him and to explore what, in my mind, is one of the greatest of American cities. I loved San Francisco then and it was hard to leave when my dad had finished his contracted work. But we packed it up and headed back to Michigan where I finished college and got on with becoming an adult. That little respite from real life was amazing and taught me so much about myself and who I was at the time. Over the years I have been back to that great city a time or two to visit friends or to pass through. And this past weekend, I spent the most time there since I was a resident. I had not been back in over 5 years and Ryan had never been, so we decided it was time to head up to that special place that is a short plane trip away.
The contrast between Los Angeles and San Francisco is shocking. San Francisco is a very well planned and contained city with diverse and distinct neighborhoods, a proper downtown, a lush city park, public transport and it is clean as a whistle. LA sprawls and sprawls and is really more like 50 small towns all stuck together. I never go to downowtn LA, not because there is nothing there, in fact that is where the art district is, but more because it is so out of the way and there is no easy way to get down there. But, more than just being different from LA, San Francisco is different and distinct from any other city I have ever visited. I gave it a lot of thought this weekend and decided that it may be best described as New York meets Portland with a strong Western European influence. I'm not sure if that is even close but that was my impression on this trip. The weather is brisk and the landscape is beautiful, just like Portland. And there is also a laid back, earthiness going on that reminds me of the Pacific Northwest. But then you can not deny the cosmopolitan sophistication, the unparalled art and design scene, the shopping, the neighborhoods, and the food (oh my, the food!) the style, the energy, and the amazing architecture that could only define one sppot in the whole world - San Francisco. We squeezed a lot into our trip, and though urban travel with a toddler has it's challenges, we rolled with it and had quite a fine Easter weekend.
*We explored and had dinner in Chinatown.
*We strolled around North Beach and had cappucino, chocolate and lunch at an Italian deli.
*We drank a whole lot of coffee.
*On saturday morning we visited the farmer's market at the Ferry Building.
*We spent time in the park,
and soaked in the ubiquitous eye candy.
*Of course we pondered the bridge.
*And our Easter dinner was at a Taqueria in the Mission.
*Rylie's vacation highlight was the hotel telephone!
*Daddy's vacation highlight was the Rogue Ales Public House.
For today at least, it is safe to say that our hearts are still up there in that city by the bay.