Sunday, April 3, 2011

The City by the Bay does not disappoint... (California '11 - #2)

We have just wrapped up another sunny day in San Francisco. Time to regroup in our comfortable room at the Westin Saint Francis. Some of us are watching a movie (Junior). Others are editing photos (Le Husband). Lucky me, I get to write today's story. 

The day started in Chinatown. Sunday is the perfect time to visit that lively neighborhood. There are a lot of locals around; families all dressed up; friends chatting with friends; people shopping, or just walking around. Then there are tourists, like us, soaking it all in and shooting away. Souvenirs, antiques, clothing, gifts, vegetable and herb markets, bakeries, temples, and restaurants of course. Chinatown is a city within the city!

Chinatown is a 24-block labyrinth!

I did not spend too much money in Chinatown... even though I must admit I was tempted when I saw these on the curb... At $15, they were a steal!

It was almost lunch time when we left so we drove to the Mission neighborhood and found award-winning Tartine Bakery and Café (corner of Guerrero and 18th). There was a line outside, so we waited patiently like all the locals. I closed my eyes when I noticed the unmistakable smell of butter and flaky pastry drifting through the door. Hmmmm...

The place was packed and loud but we managed to find a table where we enjoyed our panini-style ham and gruyère sandwiches (made with generous slices of Tartine's fresh country bread). Le Husband could not resist and ordered dessert too: Pain au chocolat and éclair. We decided lunch was tasty and worth the detour. It was also pricey: organic, top quality, local ingredients do not come cheap it seems!

Junior decided we all needed to get some exercise afterwards. He spotted a big hill in the distance and declared: "Let's go up. I see people up there." (Junior is 11 and he has very good eyes!). The hill was Twin Peaks. There were two hills as it turns out. We got closer and found a trail that took us all the way to the top. I am positive we burned off at least half of the chocolate eclair to get there. The view did not disappoint! 

Quelle belle vue! (thank you, zoom!)

Wind-blown tourists
After Twin Peaks, we felt the need to come back to earth, and be closer to the locals. We picked another lively neighborhood, Haight-Ashbury, for a mid-afternoon visit. I had only been there once, a long time ago, so I was quite excited to return to the soul of the psychedelic, free-loving 1960s, the center of the counterculture movement. 

Trendy, nostalgic, funky Haight-Ashbury

The "center of the universe"...
Tattoo parlors, vintage clothing stores, coffee shops... This is a lively little neighborhood. 
I enjoyed meeting one of the local "Gods", even if only on a t-shirt...

Bonjour Jerry!
I also found out that... ahem... self-medicating is still popular in Haight-Ashbury! For a few minutes at least, it felt as if we were back in Amsterdam! Thankfully, Junior was not interested in such paraphernalia, focusing instead on buttons and bracelets. He did not notice either the funny looking men sitting on the sidewalks who whispered "Buds" as people went by...

It was getting late and it was Le Husband's turn to pick our next (and last) destination for today. He was adamant we had to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, so we could go back to a favorite town of ours, Sausalito. To the bridge we went...

Sausalito has it all it seems; in two words, sunshine and scenery. Can you imagine stepping outside in the morning and looking at this? 

Found two friendly critters in Sausalito...

Sausalito was the perfect ending to a perfect day. We will be leaving the City by the Bay tomorrow morning, after we stop by the French Consulate. 
You may remember this is something I have not been particularly looking forward to. But, as they say, this is a whole different story... Bonne nuit, les amis. 

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle