Day 25: San Francisco
I was looking forward to getting out of the city on a cycling wine tour through Californian wine country today. I thought this might make up for yesterdays opinion of San Fran. After a very bland, boring free breakfast (why can’t I go back to Ace where there’s waffles and granola?), and with about half an hour to go before the tour pick up, the tour company calls. Seems no one else was booked to do my wine tour today, so they cancelled it, citing that I wouldn’t have a very good time by myself. Because I’m having such a good time in San Fran anyway. They are probably right, I’m certainly not in the right frame of mind to spend the day making small talk with a guide I don’t know. Good to see my bad run in San Fran is continuing today.
I was determined to start today with a positive attitude, but its not starting out very well, is it. I just have to keep trying to remind myself to turn it around. OK, well I can try and move my city sightseeing bus to today and that will give me more time to see the sights of San Fran. Done. I arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf to start the tour.
It’s FREEZING today. It’s foggy. And yes, this is summer. I’m dressed in a real hodge podge of clothes trying to keep warm because I sent my warmest jacket home by mail from New York after running out of room. I’ve got my newly purchased long sleeve Seattle shirt on a zip up sweatshirt and scarf and I’m still cold. Un-glamorous and cold.
This bus is probably a good idea for today. I’m just going to sit here and take photos out the window. I see that the bus stops at the Asian Art Museum – yay, but its closed on Mondays – of course.
I intend on getting out at some of the stops, but the thought of having to wait for the next bus in the cold is not appealing. So I sit on the bus until it stops off at Union Square where I head to Macy’s for something I know is sure to cheer me up.
Walking into Macy’s, I feel like a hobo. But I just have to forget about it and remember, you don’t live here, so who cares what anyone thinks. I actually manage to find a few pieces that I like and which will hopefully fill some of the gaps in my wardrobe (hahaha – gaps in my wardrobe, that’s hilarious). Stepping outside I fend off another homeless dude. I’m not being heartless, the hotel literature tells you not to give them money and I don’t think he’d fancy my new floral skirt, so I have no other option.
I cross back over Union Square and get back on the bus hoping to continue on my loop, but this bus loops around Union Square twice, meaning that its already covered the other parts I wanted to see. But that’s ok, because soon enough we end up back at Pier 39. There’s seals here, that’ll cheer me up!
There’s no seals here. Not one. In everyone else’s photos of San Fran that I’ve seen, there are seals littering these pontoons. On the way here, the guide was saying what a nuisance the seals have been throughout history and all the different ways they had tried to get rid of them. Well, there are no seals now.
I wonder around the pier for a while. There’s a shop called Chocolate Heaven, which stocks – surprise, surprise – all sorts of chocolate, so I grab some Ghirardelli chocolate to take home for the family. And you can see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from here, through the fog.
There’s souvenir shops (including one for left handed gifts), pearl shops, all sorts of restaurants, an aquarium and a carousel, all set on the water, a bit similar to Fremantle, only there’s nothing at Fremantle except fish and chips. It’s quite a nice vibe here, but its still cold and really glary.
There’s a fresh fruit stall, with massive strawberries. I buy a few for later. I’d like to buy a bit more fruit, but there’s no bar fridge back at my hotel, so there’s no way to keep it cool and fresh.
Then I see something that I know will make my day better, shining like a beacon in the distance, guiding the distressed ship into the shore…
The Hard Rock Café. Thank goodness for rock. The Hard Rock was first created in London in 1971, by Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton. It was designed to be a restaurant where the classes could mingle happily, and it worked. Bankers and plumbers packed the place. As did bands like the Beatles and the Stones. One of its biggest fans was Eric Clapton, who requested Isaac put up a plaque to permanently save him a table. Isaac told him ‘we don’t do plaques, but how about we hang up your guitar?’ So this is how it all began. There are more than 72,000 pieces in the Hard Rock collection world wide, the world’s greatest rock memorabilia collection.
I’m so glad to be here, just to enjoy a good meal in an environment that I love, that I don’t even bother really looking at the memorabilia to see what’s here in San Fran. I do spy Michael Jackson’s black hat, but I’m sorry Lola – I couldn’t get a photo because people were sitting in front of it.
Sitting listening music, feeding on fries, biting off pieces of my swiss mushroom burger between sips of red, I feel better and start to map out a plan to make tomorrow a better day.
I jump back on the tour bus for a while. Enroute, I learn that my hotel is on the border of the part of town called Tenderloin.
Though there is argument over the exact borders of Tenderloin, it is generally accepted as being bordered by Market, Van Ness, Geary and Mason Streets. I am on Geary Street. It sounds bad, but there’s a Hilton round the corner, Macy’s, Maxazria BCBG, Gucci, Tiffany, Saks 5th Avenue, the Westin all two to three (short) blocks away, so you just can’t tell. There’s plenty of homeless people hanging around those high end addresses. They are down at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Financial District. I think that’s the overwhelming part, is that the homelessness is not just confined to one area, it’s everywhere.
It’s believed the area received its name because members of the police force posted to the area were paid higher salaries for the hazards they had to deal with, which enabled them to buy better cuts of meat. There are other stories as well, who knows. But it’s pretty down and out.
The bus takes me back to Union Square, which is a couple of blocks from my hotel. There’s a crazy black dude sitting on the wall on Union Square. As we pull alongside, he starts shaking his head crazily, flapping his arms around and screaming, as if he’s trying to get something out of his head.
I’m back at the hotel by about 2.30pm, so I think that’s a good sign that perhaps a nap would be a good idea.
But just before I do that – just a little rant for the day on tipping. You know Australians are known world wide as being bad tippers. It’s not customary to tip at home, so most of the time I’m sure its just ignorance, though I hardly think that’s an excuse if you’ve read some of my other blogs – going to a country, learn something about it. But can I just say, even though people expect to be tipped, I can’t say I’ve actually seen much of the behaviour that warrants it. I don’t think nicely asking how your meal was is all they have to do. Not ignoring you is a good start, grunting at me certainly doesn’t make me think about tipping and when you walk away in the middle of me asking how I can buy something additional off you – you guessed it – you ain’t getting any more of my money. I think for me to pay way more than what my meal / ticket / directions would cost me at home you need to be making my experience worthwhile. Answer my questions, make me feel like I’m worth your time, then your tip will be worth it.
I make a reservation for dinner downstairs and set my alarm.
Millenium is dedicated to supporting organic food production, small farms, sustainable agriculture, recycling and composting. Fresh produce is delivered every day, organic whenever possible. The gourmet menu is created out of vegetarian, healthy and environmentally friendly foods and completely free of genetically modified foods.
And best of all, I don’t even have to leave the building.
The complimentary bread is fresh (you hear that Boudin?) and comes with an awesome spread which I unfortunately cannot remember the ingredients of except parsley. My potato and chard roulard, with mushroom cream sauce, mixed mushrooms with broccolini is amazing. And dessert, which is green tea and lemongrass crème caramel, served with thai basil-lime ice cream, sesame tuile basket, five spice biscotti and lychee syrup – to die for.
While probably not the cheapest meal for one to spend for oneself, sometimes you just need to do something for the soul.
Something else that’s good for the soul – laughing. Kicking back, finishing off my beautiful sweet strawberries, I’ve just seen on the news something that made me laugh – have a look what San Francisco TV station KTVU-TV did!
Stephen Colbert says those names are of the wrong ethnicity and they should have used Hau Yu Lan Dis Ting.