Sightseeing United States

Weekend in San Francisco

Weekend in San Francisco November 19, 2014

Golden Gate Bridge

Party in San Francisco!

I follow sports just about as closely as I follow the weather conditions on Pluto. Yet it did vaguely seep into my consciousness that the San Francisco baseball team was playing in the World Series. “Hope that’s all over before I get there,” I thought. The Series itself did end before my trip, but the victory celebration corresponded exactly with my arrival.

A poster commemorating the last time the San Francisco Giants won the World Series (2010) hung in our room in the hostel. It showed a mass of people dressed in orange and said that on the day of celebration an extra million people had come to the peninsula to celebrate. Yikes!

Matthew Roth's photo of the 2014 San Francisco Giants celebration.
We went out of our way to avoid this crazy, drunken crowd…Photo by Matthew Roth.

It’s not that I’m always opposed to a crowd scene. Our plan was to head to the Castro that evening. It was Halloween.

I knew it was going to be good as soon as we got into the subway. Everyone was in costume – great costumes. And everyone was going to the same place. The street was packed. Transvestites in very high heels towered over us shorties.  Butt cheeks shone under the glow of the street lights. I envied the people with window seats in the cafes and bars, sitting comfortably with their beers watching the insanity parade by. How long had they planned ahead in order to get those seats?

Dennis Yang captures Halloween in the Castro.
So we’d have the energy to enjoy this crazy, drunken crowd. Photo by Dennis Yang.

Big Impressions

I like it when places live up to their reputations, so it suited me well that, even though its not my drug of choice, on several occasions I found myself walking through clouds of pot smoke. And not just in Haight-Ashbury and not just on Halloween.

The different neighborhoods had distinctive personalities. The gingerbread-covered Victorian houses were lovely to see as I walked down (and up and down) the streets . And the people of San Francisco were friendly, fun and down to earth.

Koshy Koshy's photo of Lombard Street.
A landscaped street or a garden with a road through it? Photo by Koshy Koshy.

I’d like to say that San Francisco has a great public transportation system. And in truth, that would not be an inaccurate statement. The problem is, they have several different systems which may or may not play well together. In four days in the Bay Area, I used four different transport systems (BART, Muni buses and metros, Street Car and CalTrain). None of these were particularly hard to navigate, but it would sure be easier if you could just by one ticket/pass that worked on everything.

Good Eats

Going to a city like San Francisco, one of my goals was to enjoy some excellent Asian food. As such, my friend and I had both done research ahead of time and had a list of recommended restaurants. Two of the ones we went to merit special mention:

Three different people we surveyed recommended the same Thai restaurant:
Osha Thai – They have multiple locations. We went to the one on Geary. The food was fantastic!

I was told that The R&G Lounge (631 Kearny St) had delicious Chinese food, not to be missed. On a dark night we ducked into the dumpy looking entry way.

“You want dinner?” A woman barked. “Downstairs.”

We proceeded down the stairs into a small dining room which was absolutely packed with Chinese people. A good indication. The food was indeed wonderful. We ordered the salt and pepper calamari as an appetizer and it was the best calamari I’ve ever had.

My friend and her credit card enjoyed Chinatown. And Chinatown enjoyed them.


On a beautiful, sun-soaked morning I walked to the Presidio.   A path wound down through the pine trees to the beach and I walked along the waterfront gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge, even more beautiful in person than in the many photos I’ve seen of it. Below the bridge is a historic fort-turned-museum, which tells the story of fortifications on the peninsula since the time of the Spanish. There’s also a fantastic view from the roof.

That was the only museum I visited this trip. Oh- except for the Antique Vibrator Museum. Like I say, I like it when a city lives up to its reputation.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Hard to imagine a prettier bridge… Photo by Pedro Szekely.