On our trip, I promised Stephanie she could sleep til 8. Saturday morning, I couldn’t sleep past 6, so I got up and went for coffee. I chose The Barbary Coast, figuring one couldn’t go wrong with a pirate-themed coffee shop. I was actually very wrong; there was nothing pirate about it but the prices.
I went back to the hotel to pester her awake, and we jumped on a bus to Haight-Ashbury, for breakfast at The Pork Store. How could a vegetarian not like the idea of a restaurant called The Pork Store? We got there early enough to avoid the lines at the un-greasy spoon. The server girls were awesome. So was the food; we split a veggie scramble with salsa and biscuits and veggie-gravy. Also, it must be noted that I love eating with people like my sister, who is not vegetarian but doesn’t mind eating that way at all.
After breakfast, the shops had not yet opened, so we went to wander around Golden Gate Park. We figured we’d go see the Japanese Tea Garden and the buffalo herd. But our map, it wasn’t quite accurate. It said that the scale changed past Divisadero, but didn’t say how much it changed. After walking what felt like 20 miles, we found a map that told us we were not even close to those sights, which were located near the other end of the park. Like, by the ocean. So we turned around and went back, and by the time we reached Haight Street and wove our way through the street people sleeping in the park, the shops had opened.
I found a Buddhist jewelry store and got myself a spinning prayer ring for my thumb. It had my favorite mantra on it, although I admit that reading Sanskrit is a personal failing. We stopped at one of my favorite stores in the world, no, the universe: Kidrobot. I fell in love with gloomy bears, although the last thing I need is a new collection. The girl behind the counter was so enthusiastic and loveable it was hard to leave. She told us to check out the reggae festival in the park (which we had wandered past on our trek), and the Love Parade.
Only SF could have an event called the Love Parade.
We went to more shops. The guy at Yak Pak insisted we go to the Love Parade. We said OK! in that we’re-totally-lying-just-to-make-you-happy kinda way. And bought our stuff and left.
With really good intentions about not walking so damn much and taking buses instead, we walked up and down the hills of Haight Street towards the Store for Working Pirates. We stopped at Flax Art, which is also on my top-ten list of best! stores! ever! We were both trying very hard to not spend a million dollars on our trip, being all newly budget-conscious and responsible (at least, that was my excuse). It was a huge challenge. I think we both did pretty well.
Though 826 Valencia was only 8 blocks away, they were eight of the longest blocks possible. We stopped for lunch at a taqueria with the magic word on the front: I yelled, ‘HEY! HEALTHY!’ and that was enough for me. But holy crap! It was good. Healthy Mexican food is a near-impossibility in the friendly midwest.
Refreshed, we made it to the pirate store. They were selling way more pirate-themed merchandise than before, which was both gratifying and goofy. I was hoping Dave Eggers’ new book was out, but no. So I lusted over McSweeney’s books, and then we left.
We got on a bus and rode up to Japantown. Because apparently, Saturday was all about my favorite places to shop. I’m not thrilled with Chinatown in San Francisco, but Japantown is the best. I could spend weeks in the bookstore alone, spending all my hard-earned cash, as well as some future savings. I bought a ‘tofu: the better white meat’ tshirt, which means my vegetarian tshirt collection has reached ridiculous proportions (I have three). I also added to my ridiculously-cute stationery collection at the paper store. And got the required netsuke and such. All good.
We took the bus back to the hotelish part of town. Powell and Market is near all the expensive boring shopping, like Nordstrom and Armani and crap. For some reason, Powell Street was insane that time of day, crawling with shoppers and strikers and people carrying signs that meant something to someone, I’m sure. The preacher at the cable car turnaround was on a roll, and would continue until late into the night.
We went upstairs and Stephanie laid down for a nap. I was going to scribble in my notebook (it’s like analog blogging) and knit, but I ended up dozing off and drooling on the bed for 20 minutes. Then I got up and speed-walked to two different Starbucks, as the first one had a line out the door. Since there were 10 of them within a three-block radius, it was pretty easy.
I have to note that I love my tourist-walking in big cities. I think it’s the only way to really get to know a place: walk out the door of your hotel by 7am, walk all day long, and walk back in sometime that night, completely worn out. Do that for a full week, and you might as well have lived there for months. This trip, it wasn’t as possible due to the ankle and the fact I wasn’t traveling alone. Which ended up being really good, too.
I called and pestered Jay for directions, and we set off on the MUNI train to see SBC Park, per Stephanie’s request. She’s not so much a sports enthusiast as a sports freak. The park was very cool, though, and we’d have seen a game there if they were playing. We did, however, get to see the remnants of the Love Parade. All I can say is that San Franciscans like to get either fuzzy or naked. Sometimes both.
We found our way to the California Street cable car and stood, freezing our supposedly cold-prepared asses off waiting. The cable cars like to taunt you by sitting on the opposite side of the street forever, and then creeping very very slowly in your direction. It finally arrived, and we rode over to the other side of Chinatown, to the Dar Bar Indian Restaurant, which I loved so much the first time around. Dinner was great, as expected. And as usual, we should’ve taken the bus, but wandered our way back through the Tenderloin to our hotel instead.