I feel like I’ve lived here – what a comfortable city to move around in. I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten turned around for more than a minute or two, and it seems every corner I turn has another fantastic view of the bay, victorian home, or fantastic web of overhead wires for the electric busses.
Now this isn’t to say that I’ve spent the weekend like a local in some neighborhood hangout… I haven’t. Much of last night I walked along Fisherman’s Wharf, grinning at the people excitedly buying glow-in-the-dark bracelets, or gathered around men painted in silver – standing on milk crates, pretending they’re robots. And the rows of cheap t-shirt shops and black market camera stores
This morning I walked over to Ghirardelli Square, past the beach where hundreds of people were swimming to shore from Alcatraz, a yearly competition and one third of today’s Escape from Alcatraz Triathalon. I was tired just watching a few minutes of that… so I jumped the first trolley to Union Square. Crossing Market, I wandered south San Francisco’s version of MOMA – had it all to myself for a couple hours, too. They have some great design items in their collection, several of which I’ve gushed about before on this blog. An entire floor was devoted to photography, with a special exhibition of black and white prints spanning the 20’s and 30’s. Beautiful stuff, and I was inspired to take modernist-style photos all afternoon.
Leaving the museum around noon, I headed back to Market Street to find it was blocked off – by none other than the Gay Pride parade. I figured I’d stand and wait until it passed, since you couldn’t cross easily. No such luck… it must be the world’s longest and most well-attended parade in the world, and I enjoyed it a lot – not the floats and costumes (or lack thereof) so much, but the joy itself. It didn’t matter if it was a drag queen in 2-foot platform shoes and a giant pink wig, or the line of security guards that brought up the rear – the crowd cheered wildly for everybody, with many around me calling out to some participants by name, running into the street for a hug. It was a really upbeat experience… though I’ll never be able to look at black leather chaps again. Ever.
After the parade I headed east on Market to the Ferry clock tower. I turned north at the Embarcadero, stopping to marvel at the century old municipal pier buildings, several of which are untouched since they were built – just hanging there over the water on hundreds of barnacle-covered wooden pylons.
Back at the youth hostel, I have the little cafe all to myself. It’s 7 in the evening, and the big open windows of the 1850’s barracks are letting in the fantastic breezes that sweep up from the bay. I can see the Golden Gate bridge from this vantage point, glowing in the late afternoon sun. The incessant cries of the seagulls provide a wonderful, eerie soundtrack beneath it all. I’d like to walk through the Marina district tonight, past the multi-million dollar waterfront homes and over the Golden Gate and back. We’ll see… I’d reckon I’ve logged at least 15 miles already today by foot, so I might consider a more relaxing evening instead.
Lots of photos soon.