The land of cultural diversity. San Francisco just seems to have a little bit of everything- interesting people, beautiful gardens, inspiring architecture, history and lots and lots of hills. Our hotel was in Union Square at a place called Hotel Diva. It is one of those boutique hotels that doesn’t offer much in way of amenities but is hip and funky and centrally located. And of course, attached to a Starbucks.
It’s no wonder San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in. Parking fees alone will cost you a weeks worth of pay! But you do what you have to do to get around and explore the city. Since we were downtown, we spent the first couple of days walking everywhere. I think a lot of people learn to throw foot fashion out the window in exchange for comfort and practicality. Up and down, up and down, the streets wave and your legs begin to ache. We ventured from the hotel into Chinatown, poking our heads in and out of shops full of exotic treasures. It truly does give you the sense of what it might be like to be in China.
Soon we found ourselves down by the water on the Embarcadero following the sightseeing tourists and watching the day to day routines of the locals. We entered the enticing commotion of the One Ferry Building, full of goodies. We perused the gourmet markets trying to decide which mouth watering items would be lucky enough to make it home with us that evening. And the chocolate markets win! (when do they not?) We came across the first and selected a few delectable pieces, paid and savored. But wait- there was another chocolate shop! Well we couldn’t deny ourselves the opportunity to browse their selection also- that would just be rude! So once again, we carefully chose and purchased a few more heavenly morsels of chocolatey goodness.
The next day was well spent with much time in Golden Gate Park. First was the Conservatory of Flowers. I have always been a flower lover and wanted to immerse myself in floral abundance. It was a nice but extreme change coming from desert to humid and tropical air. Orchids, heliconias and towering palms facilitated our stroll through this magnificent building. Afterwards, we both were excited to see the Japanese Tea Gardens and spent the next couple of hours marveling at the lush green, soothing waters and intricately carved pagodas. Within the gardens is a tea house to enjoy a tea ceremony or just a warm drink and snackables. Sean had the most aromatic jasmine tea while I enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate. Then we experienced the most interesting type of Japanese dessert. It was made from rice, turned into this odd paste-y consistency, flavored and shaped into little squares. The strawberry was my favorite but overall I don’t know that it was something I really feel the need to ingest again.
The night ended in the Haight-Ashbury district (where you can apparently check out the house the the Grateful Dead used to live in) and had dinner at a mediterranean restaurant called Kan Zaman. It was difficult not to take a nap while in there as the seating area was plush with cushions and pillows. Not the ideal type of seating for digestion but it makes for quite a cozy atmosphere. We dined on our varied selection of tapas style dinner and soon the belly dancer shimmied her way into the dining area. I have always admired and enjoyed watching this particular form of dance. It is exotic, magical and embodies woman in her truest sense. This was also the first time I have slipped a couple of $1’s into anyone’s- well, anything!
I find San Francisco a real treasure. I imagine it will take us many more trips to enjoy all of the things we have yet to see and do. Farewell, San Fran. We enjoyed you immensely and shall one day return.