Wednesday, March 14, 2012

despite a puzzling lack of rice-a-roni, san francisco was awesome!*

of course the first thing you notice are the cable cars, which admittedly are just being used to ferry tourists; but the fact that you've never seen them anywhere else--apart from movies and tv shows about san francisco--makes them especially great! 

did you know that san francisco also has street cars?** they've been "rescued" from other cities and lovingly restored, so each one is different and beautiful, and one can get quite caught up in trying to photograph all of them! we enjoyed touring the cable car museum and the railway museum, as well as riding every handsome vintage mode of transport which came our way.

fisherman's wharf is beautiful, if a bit touristy. we explored pier 39 a bit, our favorite sight there was the merry (and noisy!) band of  sea lions who hang out on their own set of purpose-built docks. at one point we got to see in action the special employee whose job it is to chase those mammals off the docks in use by the marina's boats... he had a shield and everything... it was uniue in my experience, as well as pretty comical!***

our favorite waterfront destination by far was the old ferry terminal, which is now restored and revitalized and reminds me quite a bit of chelsea market in manhattan. we lucked into the farmer's market one morning, as well as dscovering the word's best yogurt/granola breakfast parfaits at frog hollow farm.  i'd also highly recommend the astonishing bolognese at il cano rosso.

but then we didn't have a less than stellar meal during our entire four-day stay! from the nouvelle pan-asian treats of e and o trading,**** to the fabulously imaginative lunch menu at the cafeteria of the asian art museum, wonderful grab-n-go sandwiches at la boulange; even our hotel (the marriottt, union square) served some pretty tasty snacks in their lounge bar! a highlight was the over-the-top (in a GOOD way!) polynesian kitsch of the tonga room at the hotel fairmont. the tiki chic decor, superb umbrella drinks, and real "rainstorms" in the dining room would have been enough for us; as it turns out, the food was wonderful, too!

you may recall that the original inspiration for this trip was our desire to see the cult of beauty, a travelling exhibition of pre-raphaelite and other art from the victorian aesthetic movement that only appeared in three locations world-wide, one of which was FAMSF's legion of honor, and it was well worth the trip!

additionally, we were thrilled to discover that san francisco's only art-o-mat was within brisk walking distance of our hotel at the fabulous rayko photo center, who were also having a toy camera photography show that we enjoyed very much. plus, it just so happened that the asian art museum was playing host to TWO truly wonderful special exhibitions: the maharaja: the splendour of india's royal courts and sanjay patel's deities, demons and dudes with 'staches... of which i include a snapshot of a few of the giant, gorgeous colorful wall murals below... next to the chick using the art-o-mat! :)

san francisco is a great place for public art, also, as these giant sculptures in justin herman plaza will be happy to attest!

the ultimate icon may well be the golden gate bridge, and it truly is glorious to see, if a bit difficult to photograph properly with an ordinary point-n-shoot digital camera. of course, that doesn't stop one from trying!

an utterly amazing meal i neglected to mention above was the dim sum we enjoyed at the new asia restaurant in chinatown. when we found it, via trip advisor whilst walking around that fascinating neighborhood, the fact that every single table was FULL and there were entire multi-generational families happily awaiting their turn in the foyer, seemed to bode well for the quality; and sure enough, it was AWESOME! (be sure to try the crunchy shrimp balls!) 

speaking of lovely neighborhoods, pacific heights is full of jaw-droppingly beautiful victorian homes, and you can take a fun walking tour of the area. i don't think tour guide jay personally arranged for the glorious sunshine and warm weather just for us... but i wouldn't rule it out. ;) 

tony bennett famously left his heart in san francisco, and since then many others followed suit, including four artists who left them specifically at the corners of union square, for some very silly spokesmodels to come along and pose with. this one will leave you with one last photo... and the strongest possible urging to visit this lovely city as soon as you possibly can! 

*i'm totally ripping off gina's awesome blog post title stylings again; of course, she's already used the best title EVER... on this post, here!  :)

**the difference is: cable cars are physically pulled along by a long system of under-street CABLES (hence the name!); street cars (aka trolleys) are powered by electrical wires strung overhead. both are very fun to ride as a tourist in san francisco!

***what exactly does this man write down on his taxes next to "occupation"? sea lion roustabout? marine mammal intimidation specialist? do you get dental in a job like that? is there a union? 

****brian boitano is TOTALLY RIGHT about the indonesian corn fritters! :)


  1. Oh wow, what a fantastic trip and wonderful blog posting - made me feel like I was there with you, thanks for sharing.

    k x

  2. FABulous photos ... sounds like you had a great time ... TFS

  3. FANTASTIC photos, Lauren... thanks for sharing. That's someplace we'll probably never get to go, so it's doubly fun seeing through your eyes (or should I say lens).

  4. Oh!! I haven't been to San Fran in so long. ( I think we went in 2005 last) Pre-Leo. Lewis goes every October for a conference there. We are always able to come, but its difficult with Leo. I can't imagine the jet lag and being stuck on a plane with him for that long still. He's a little gremlin when he's over something. The artomat pic is my fav!! I love it..So much fun. We went on the trolleys too. I went to the aquarium there also (of course) I'm an aquarium lovin fool. Glad you are back! :)

  5. I love San Fran its awesome, great photos!!

  6. I LOVE San Francisco -- such a great city!! Love your photos of course :-)

  7. Well thank you *so* much for sharing your trip with us, dear Lauren...I grew up only 15 minutes from "the city" and you brought back vividly the smells, tastes and electricity of home for me. It's been too long since I've been "home" but I feel I've had a mini-trip. You didn't mention my old stomping grounds, Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park, but I can close my eyes and hear the free concerts in the park of my youth. :) Anyway, you certainly do know how to pack a heckuva lot of art, food and touring in four days. Bravo!

  8. have never been to SF and now i want to go!!

    looks like you had a blast :)

  9. Lauren, I LOVE your pictures!!!!

  10. I haven't been to SF since ... thinking ... the early 80s. Whoa. LOVE that city!

    Shrimp balls, huh? Aren't they really, really, REALLY tiny? (sorry)

  11. I'm crying here. Actually bawling my head off. :'( You were 50 MINUTES away and I DIDN'T KNOW?!!?!!!? WAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! But it sounds like you saw waaaay more than I could ever show you since I don't actually live in the city anyway. And, seriously, you wouldn't want to see Pleasant Hill. That tour would last all of 10 minutes. ;)

    I'm so glad the weather was nice for you as it's been so crappy lately. Cold & rainy. Ew! And I'm soooo glad you had a good time!! Next time? LET ME KNOW!! I'll take ya to Napa. mmm.... wine. ♥


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